Amino acids are the building blocks of the body and are considered essential to the body’s function, especially when it comes to physiological processes. This includes immune health, hormone production, and cell-to-cell communication, which are all tied up in the presence of these amino acids. They’re even a key organic energy source for the body.
According to one study, “Amino acids, vitamins, and minerals are capable of altering gene expression, inducing apoptosis, and regulating chemical processes. It makes them highly attractive for creating better health, [for a] low cost.”
Recent studies are even considering the impact of amino acids and micronutrient levels could play on the severity of COVID-19 cases.
Better health, low cost? Seems like a no-brainer. So how does the body actually acquire amino acids?
Amino Acids Come From Protein
There are 20 different types of amino acids, nine of which are considered “essential.” These include histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Unlike the other 11 amino acids, these can’t be made by your body; they must be obtained through your diet.
These essential amino acids can be found in a variety of proteins and are typically most concentrated in meat, fish, dairy, and eggs. As a result, some vegetarians and vegans may have a harder time meeting their amino acid requirements. Amino acid deficiencies can also be a result of poor diet, stress, infection, or toxins in the body.
It’s important that we have these essential acids in our system because they play a role in so many different parts of our body. They improve metabolism function; regulate appetite, sleep, and mood; produce growth hormones; and so much more. For a deeper dive, Healthline breaks down the role each essential amino acid plays in the body.
Can Anyone Have Amino Acid Deficiency?
Many of the aforementioned things can cause amino acid deficiency, but Professor of Psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine James Greenblatt, M.D., explains four of the most common causes: Lack of protein, poor digestion of protein, antacid use, and even aging are often culprits.
“As we age, stomach acid levels decrease. Stomach acid drops by almost 40% from the teens to the thirties and almost half again by the seventies. Consequently, our ability to digest protein diminishes with age. Of course, we can’t help aging, but there are things we can do to help sustain our bodies’ protein synthesis. Getting enough sleep, avoiding stress, exercising regularly, and eating a diet rich in protein can all help,” Greenblatt shared.
If you feel like you’re functioning below your best, Greenblatt warns that can be a sign of amino acid deficiency.
“Each of the neurotransmitters that support brain health is made from protein building blocks called amino acids. These are basic nutritional elements produced within our bodies or ingested through the food we eat. If you lack these important substances, you may feel depressed, tense, irritable, and hungry all the time.”
Myles Spar, MD, says other symptoms of amino acid deficiency could be memory loss, muscle loss, craving unhealthy foods, and even slow recovery from illness.
Think this sounds like you? You might want to consider taking amino acid supplements.
Supplementing with Amino Acids
If you’re not getting enough amino acid intake, amino acid supplements are a safe alternative to improving body function. Many studies have been done on the effects of supplementing amino acids with great success.
This study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition concluded amino supplements could help athletic performance, stating “Amino acids will feed into and impact on the regulation of key metabolic pathways in immune cells and the cellular oxidative stress response. At the anti-inflammatory molecular level, new findings have been reported such as enhancement of HSP levels, NO synthesis, and GSH/GSSG regulation, all essential for optimal immune function and recovery from intense periods of training.”
Another study published in the European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology discovered amino acid supplementation and walking exercise actually improved muscle volume and strength in patients living with liver cirrhosis.
And this study published in Clinical Nutrition discovered that amino acid supplementation improved lean body mass, strength, and physical function in the elderly.
Try Hardy’s Balanced Free-Form Aminos
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Balanced Free-form Aminos provides essential building blocks for enzymes, neurotransmitters, and hormones and is specially formulated to meet human needs by delivering a broad array of nature-select amino acids in optimal balance and form.
Learn more about our Balanced Free-Form Aminos here.