Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, which make up twenty percent of your body weight. Proteins have an important role to play in almost all body functions and biological processes.
Much of the structural elements that make up our muscles and other tissues is made up of proteins, making them indispensable for life. Amino acids also play a crucial role in provision of nutrition to the body, and alter the functions of organs, glands, tendons, and arteries assisting in healing of wounds, tissue repair and excretion of waste products.
What are Amino Acids
There are three classes of amino acids based on their properties:
- Essential Amino Acids, which are not synthesised by the body in adequate quantities and have to be supplied externally, through food or supplements. There are 9 essential amino acids namely, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.
- Non-Essential Amino Acids, which are synthesised adequately by the body and do not need external supply and include alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, and glutamic acid.
- Conditional Amino Acids, which routinely are self-sufficient but falls short during times of illness or acute stress and include arginine, cysteine, glutamine, tyrosine, glycine, ornithine, proline, and serine.
There is a recent rise in interest in supplementing proteins to maintain or recover good health or for body-building. The reason for this rise being the loss of precious nutrients due to the use of fertilizers, hormone-fed cattle, and bad habits like smoking or drinking which prevent absorption of essential nutrients in adequate quantities. Hence, supplying amino acids in addition to a balanced diet seems most appropriate in bringing about a proper balance in your body systems as it recoups the amino acid pool.
The Need for Supplementing Amino Acids
The amino acid pool is the complete amount of free available amino acids in the body, which is about 120 to 130 grams in an average male.
This amino acid pool is renewed or refreshed about 3 times every single day, as protein is broken down in your gut into individual amino acids and then after absorption re-organized into new protein for use by the body. This ensues that for optimum protein utilization you have to supplement proteins, more so amino acids, to tide over the losses due to various factors prevalent in modern-day lifestyles.
Supplementing amino acids directly avoids the complex digestive processes and provides a readily available source of nutrition to your body, particularly the protein variety that is crucial to the body. Also, supplementing amino acids provides the much needed avenue for rapid recuperation after illness or to prepare for any kind of event requiring rapid gain in muscle mass and strength, as in professional body-building and athletes.
Which Amino Acids work best for Growth?
Growth is achieved either by an increase in the number of cells in the body, called hyperplasia or an increase in the size of cells, called hypertrophy. Both these components of growth require proper nutrition, particularly a ready supply of amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins.
Amino acids that work best for promoting optimal growth of organs and tissue of the body include:
- Leucine, a branched-chain amino acid is a potent supporter of the Human Growth Hormone (HGH) promoting growth of tissues, healing of wounds, regulating energy resources, and prevents muscle breakdown. It is a natural anabolic agent.
- Isoleucine works similar to leucine in stimulating HGH release and promoting muscle recovery while regulating blood sugar levels.
- Valine helps in muscle growth and repair and works in association with leucine and isoleucine.
- L-glutamine is a great amino acid to use during the bulking phase of training.
- L-arginine is by far the most important among the growth-inducing amino acids as it has been effectively researched to incite new growth, particularly in newborns who fail to manufacture enough of this amino acid within the body. It stimulates growth hormone production by the pituitary gland.
Which Amino Acids work best for Muscles?
Resistance training and other training methods produce targeted muscle growth or bodybuilding. Athletes who require physical strength and stamina resort to the use of protein supplements including amino acids to contain the stress and strain of rigorous training. Amino acids are very effective in promoting growth and repair of of tissues, especially muscles as they help in protein build-up within the body and they prevent muscle atrophy due to undernutrition and overtraining.
Following amino acids are particularly effective when it comes to healthy muscle growth and maintenance:
- Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) such as L-leucine helps improve the body’s ability to synthesise protein and promote muscle growth just within two weeks of supplementation with 4 grams thrice daily.
- Taurine reduces oxidative stress, particularly after intense exercise and promotes muscle growth and better performance.
- L-arginine improves blood flow and immunity during training.
- L-carnitine is the most important ammo in an athlete’s kit and helps utilise fat molecules for energy within the mitochondria.
Which Amino Acids work best for Anti-Aging?
Who wishes to become crinkly and old? Anti-aging has become a popular fad among celebrities and common people alike in recent times. Beautiful skin and shiny hair are prerequisites in today’s beauty pageants and people try to keep them as young and supple for as long as they can be maintained. Proteins and in particular, amino acids have been used with great success as anti-aging supplements. Delaying skin aging process requires ready supply of essential nutrients, particularly amino acids and proteins which provide structure and strength to the skin thus preventing wrinkling and formation of creases.
Some of the amino acids that work best for anti-aging include:
- Creatine is derived from carnitine, which contains arginine and methionine and is particularly important for energy metabolism which supports regeneration and repair of connective tissues, cells and metabolism of skin. Amino acids arginine and carnitine form creatine which assists natural skin functions as cells are stimulated to produce more collagen and elastin giving your skin a healthy look. Creatine basically stimulates intrinsic collagen production.
- Glutamine maintains the acid-base balance and firms the skin. It forms the crux of acid regulation in the body driving off toxic waste products through the kidneys. This slows the ageing process compelling scientists to refer to it as the “fountain of youth from within”.
- Carnitine drives fat to fuel your body’s requirements and is called the “fat burner”. This improves your health and wellbeing reducing the ageing process.
Which Amino Acids work best for Sexual Libido?
Many men and women suffer from blunting of sexual libido, causing undue stress and lack of confidence. Amino acids, particularly arginine and ornithine play a major role in promoting erection of penis and better performance between the sheets.
Amino acids that tend to increase sexual libido include:
- Arginine is a precursor of nitric oxide, which is a potent vasodilator and increases arterial elasticity. Besides improving erection, it provides for better distribution of oxygen and nutrients to various organs improving sexual potency, endurance and performance without any side effects.
- Ornithine gets reduced to arginine in the body and this gives the delayed response when combined with it, thus providing long-lasting improvement in sexual performance.