As the smallest building blocks of protein, amino acids have a number of indispensable tasks and functions in the human body. We must supply the essential representatives of this substance group daily with our diet. Our organism cannot produce them all itself.
Most health-conscious people are now aware that the need for protein can vary from person to person and depending on their life situation. Therefore, not only athletes appreciate the additional supply of protein building blocks.
Perhaps you have asked yourself in this context: “Can I do anything wrong when taking amino acids? Is there an overdose?” We have put together the most important information about the intake of amino acids for you.
Amino acids – types and requirements at a glance
When the term amino acid comes up, most people think of the protein building blocks. They serve our body primarily as a building material for all body tissues. They also contain the genetic code. There are a number of other amino acids that are not counted among the proteinogenic representatives.
Whether it is a proteinogenic (“protein-forming”) or non-proteinogenic component, all representatives in the field of amino acids have something in common:
They are subject to constant change and transformation processes because they are not only the basis of tissue in our body but also of
- various messenger substances,
- and other substances.
In addition, it is important to know that there are many different connections between individual building blocks. There are multiple interactions within the entire substance group.
In case of additional intake of building blocks, we either talk about
- the essential protein building blocks in their entirety, or
- a single specific amino acid from which we hope to have a positive effect on our health.
To enable you to evaluate your possible requirements and dosage appropriately, we primarily distinguish between essential and non-essential amino acids.
Essential and non-essential amino acids
The essential representatives occupy a special position among the proteinogenic amino acids:
- and Valine
are called essential because these protein building blocks cannot be produced by our organism itself. We have to provide them to our body regularly through food.
Between the essential and non-essential amino acids, there is an intermediate group: the semi-essential building blocks.
Substances such as arginine, for example, are essential in some phases of life and not in others.
The distinction between essential and non-essential building blocks says nothing about the significance of the individual building block. Every amino acid has an important function in the human organism.
The amino acid pattern
Some experts, such as the US scientist Dr. Luca-Moretti, for example, consider the essential amino acids to be particularly interesting because we can use them particularly well.
He assigns a specific amino acid pattern to each living being, the representatives of which can be absorbed almost 100% by the respective organism. So it also depends on how effectively the organism can use them.
This aspect plays an important role in understanding how much our body needs.
What is your protein requirement?
If you want to know whether you are overdosing protein building blocks, the question of the need for these important substances is of central importance.
We distinguish between two levels:
- How much protein do we need daily?
- What is our need for essential building blocks?
The recommendations for daily protein intake vary. They range from 0.8 mg/kilogram body weight to 1.4-1.5 mg/kilogram body weight.
Among other things, the factors
- sporting requirement,
- nutritional situation and
possibly affect the need for protein.
Some experts tend to use lower values rather than maximum requirement values for an increased protein requirement. For example, the German Society for Nutrition (DGE) assumes a requirement of 1 mg/kilogram bodyweight for people over 65 years of age.
Other experts such as the German Institute for Sports Nutrition Bad Nauheim assume an increased requirement of 1.6 mg/kilogram bodyweight for athletes.
There is no unequivocal statement in this area that has been substantiated by scientific studies. Sometimes an additional protein intake is even viewed critically.
In doing so, they refer to the assumption that our protein supply can be ensured at all times with a varied diet.
Required values for essential building blocks
The World Health Organization (WHO) gives these recommendations per kilogram of body weight for the requirement of essential building blocks:
- Tryptophan – 4 mg
- Threonine – 15 mg
- Phenylalanine – 25mg
- Leucine – 39 mg
- Methionine – 15 mg
- Lysine – 30 mg
- Isoleucine – 20 mg
- Valine – 26 mg
- Threonine – 15 mg
The recommendations are average values. It is therefore not possible to see how a possible increase in demand could affect different phases of life.
This question has not yet been clearly clarified by nutritional scientists and physicians.
Intake via a normal diet
For the optimal dosage of amino acids, we should pay attention to the extent to which we already absorb protein with our daily diet.
As already described, the essential protein building blocks can be absorbed and utilised particularly well by the human body. Nevertheless, it depends on the sources from which we obtain the protein building blocks.
Not all foods we eat every day contain all the essential protein building blocks.
Protein from plant sources may be less useful than from animal sources. Therefore, with specific diets – such as those of vegans and possibly vegetarians – we may not regularly consume all essential amino acids.
Here it often depends on the clever combination of certain foods, so that the diet must be put together very carefully.
Fluctuating demand makes general statements difficult
All building blocks are subject to different transformation processes in the organism and are interconnected in their functions. It is therefore difficult to give standardised recommendations for the supply of both total protein and individual building blocks.
Scientists and nutrition experts are therefore cautious with study approaches because we humans differ greatly from one another.
In most cases, a study only considers a specific group of people, e.g. athletes, and only the effects of individual components or smaller groups of components are examined.
Why demand and supply values vary is also due to the fact that our eating habits differ.
If you suspect an overdose, first look at whether you are currently taking all the essential building blocks additionally or isolating individual building blocks.
Finding the right dose
In most cases, scientific studies deal with the effects of certain protein building blocks on a specific group of people, such as athletes. Specific protein building blocks are usually the focus of interest. For athletes, these are often the branched-chain building blocks in the English abbreviation BCAA with leucine, isoleucine and valine.
Although the experts recognize potential positive effects on athletic performance, they have not yet committed themselves to a dosage recommendation.
Supply of individual components in isolation – which dose is correct?
Even if the amino acids are taken individually, there are currently no standardized recommendations.
Studies here often target a specific product and a health effect that is intended by the additional intake of the amino acid.
For example, the semi-essential building block arginine has an important place in the body’s nitrogen metabolism.
It can, therefore,3 act on various health-relevant levels by dilating blood vessels.
Effects in lowering blood pressure, erectile dysfunction and other areas are discussed here.
Some of these effects have already been scientifically researched in individual studies. This applies, for example, to support erectile function for certain product combinations.
However, general statements about dosage or overdose of arginine cannot be made on the basis of this study and similar ones.
Overdose – is there an absolute limit for the intake?
We can consider an overdose not only on the basis of need values but also in terms of potential side effects.
The following aspects must be taken into account here for amino acids:
Some amino acids interact with each other in a certain way.
If one of these components is supplied in a high dosage, this can have an effect on its function or influence other components.
Let’s look at the building blocks lysine and arginine.
Many people carry the virus herpes simplex. Among other things, it leads to the formation of the familiar cold sores. The virus rests in the nerve cells after its initial absorption into the body and can be reactivated by certain varying factors.
Lysine inhibits the activation of these herpes viruses. Arginine, in turn, promotes them.
The two building blocks should be in a certain balance throughout to prevent unwanted activation of herpes viruses.
From this, we can see that the isolated supply of an amino acid can also be a potential overdose.
Some amino acids interact with certain drugs.
For example, the amino acid tryptophan is a precursor of the messenger substance serotonin. Serotonin has many functions and tasks in our nervous system and also influences our mood.
For depression, drugs from the group of serotonin reuptake inhibitors are often prescribed. They should ensure that serotonin is broken down more slowly and remains available for longer. This is said to have a positive effect on depression.
If tryptophane is added here, an excess of serotonin may occur. This may be associated with side effects that can also be life-threatening.
Also in this example, we see that an overdose by a single amino acid is possible if it is not seen in the overall context.
It becomes clear that it depends on the individual person and his or her particular health conditions.
All protein building blocks are subject to conversion processes.
They are metabolized. Different organs are involved in the metabolism, especially the kidneys and the liver.
If protein and its building blocks are being overdosed, these organs may be overstrained with the metabolism. This is especially true if the function of the liver and kidneys is already restricted by certain diseases.
Some people, therefore, have to be more careful than others with an additional intake of protein and the amino acids. Therefore, it is best to consult your doctor for advice on what is appropriate for you.
It depends on the product and its quality
Keeping track of when you are dosing correctly and when you are overdosing is not easy.
Your requirement values and the intake of building blocks vary with your diet.
- The living conditions,
- the special conditions of the individual person and
- the choice of food
play a role.
There is, therefore, no standardised statement as to when a product is being overdosed.
Responsible manufacturers offer high-quality products with amino acids which
- concentrate on the supply of essential protein building blocks and
- are based above all on the WHO recommendations for average demand values.
The quantities of individual products vary depending on how the individual product is formulated in detail. We recommend that you pay attention to the sources from which the amino acids were obtained and which dosage form the manufacturer chooses.
Our amino4u products are manufactured in the highest quality according to the above-mentioned specifications.
Remember that when you take a single amino acid, the likelihood of overdose and side effects may increase.
Especially in the case of specific health restrictions, you should ask your doctor if you fear that you might overdose an amino acid product.