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Amino acids have many tasks and functions in the human organism. Some of them form the basis of the body’s own protein, while others are involved in the synthesis of various other substances. New findings on the functioning of these substances are constantly being added. Even some new amino acids are still be discovered.
Many people make their very personal experience with amino acids. This is especially true for athletes, but also for people who find themselves in certain situations that are harmful to their health.
Learn more about the current state of science and research.
The one or other experience report about amino acid is also included in our contribution, both marginally and indirectly.
Amino acids at a glance
Amino acids have a specific chemical structure with an amino group and are mainly considered to be building blocks of the body’s own proteins. That is why they are also called protein or protein building blocks.
The terms amino acid and protein are often equated, although this approach is somewhat shortened.
There are over 600 different amino acids known until today, of which just over 20 play a particularly important role in our body. 8 representatives from this group are called essential because the body cannot produce them itself and they must be supplied with food.
These are these amino acids:
In addition, there are also some protein building blocks that are semi-essential because they only need to be ingested via the diet in certain phases of human life and development.
All amino acids are characterised by the fact that they are subject to a multitude of reactions and transformation processes in our body. These processes are known as “recycling” because one amino acid is re-formed from another, or a new amino acid is created from two amino acids.
Protein building blocks are constantly in motion and subject to transformation.
Functions and tasks
Amino acids take on many different tasks in the human organism. Above all, they form the material basis for body tissue and other substances such as messenger substances and hormones.
Many of the amino acids’ areas of activity are not directly accessible, but only through an effect or lack of an effect, which is related to the supply of amino acids.
Learn more about the role of amino acids in nutrition, the total protein requirement and what a deficiency can mean for you.
1. Protein and protein building materials in nutrition
Protein is one of the three macronutrients. Our organism needs protein in addition to carbohydrates and fats in our diet for its material preservation. Protein has a special position here because, compared to fats and carbohydrates, it only indirectly provides energy, but it functions as a building material for all tissues in the human organism.
Often the smaller parts of protein, the protein building blocks, are also the basis for substances and substances that the body can produce itself. As a rule, each amino acid has several tasks to fulfil in the organism.
Essential protein building blocks are taken in with food. Therefore, foods are differentiated according to the extent to which they contain these important substances.
A measure of the quality of foods, viewed from the protein side, is the so-called biological quality. The hen’s egg is regarded as the reference object. In this context, it has a value of 100 for the biological valence. Other foods are compared with the hen’s egg.
It is noticeable that animal foods generally contain all essential protein components, even in a desired relative quantity distribution.
Vegetable foods come off worse in a comparison of the biological valence. They lack one or the other essential amino acid so that the entire spectrum of these essential protein building blocks can regularly only be represented by a specific combination of foods of plant origin.
As a vegan, you may therefore find it much more difficult to supply yourself with all the amino acids.
2. Is there an optimal nutritional form for protein supply?
The unequal distribution of protein building blocks in the various foods of animal and plant origin regularly leads to controversial discussions about the health value of certain diets.
Scientists also disagree about the origin of proteins:
- Many experts regard animal protein sources as potentially harmful to health.
- Others consider vegetable protein sources to be insufficient even in combination.
Intensive research is being carried out to assess the supply of essential amino acids:
Some scientists have developed a model for this, which they call the amino acid pattern or MAP (“Master Amino Acid Pattern”). In particular, the US-American scientist Professor Dr. Luca-Moretti considers this MAP to be a characteristic reference value. He is of the opinion that an optimal diet must in any case completely map the MAP.
More than 99% of essential amino acids can be converted into the body’s own protein, thus forming the human MAP. What matters here is each individual essential amino acid and the effect of each amino acid in combination with the other amino acids.
What do these many different opinions mean for your diet, your individual needs and your supply of amino acids in special life situations?
3. Aminos in older age
There are increasing signs that you may need more amino acids, especially in older age.
Repair and build-up processes associated with ageing processes make protein and protein building blocks even more valuable for you if you want to
- maintain beautiful skin for as long as possible.
- cope better with chronic diseases and overweight.
- maintain your well-being and mental balance for a long time.
Proteins and protein building blocks are not only building materials, but also have a high significance for the performance of the organism. Even if not all findings have been scientifically substantiated yet, the one or other experience report of athletes already points in this direction.
Especially in connection with the so-called BCAAs – the essential amino acids Valine, Leucine and Isoleucine – a subjectively convincing effect on muscle maintenance, muscle build-up and regeneration after intensive athletic strain is regularly reported. These experiences can also be transferred into your everyday life.
4. Amino acids and diets
Can proteins and protein building blocks help you lose weight?
Proteins, and therefore amino acids, are said to have a slimming effect because they consume energy after consumption and would not provide additional energy.
With this very simplified argumentation, it is often explained that proteins are particularly well suited to support weight management and to lose bodyweight.
This assertion has currently gained importance because carbohydrates are now viewed very critically.
So-called bad carbohydrates, which lead to a rapid increase in blood sugar, are now associated by many nutrition experts with the large weight gain of many people.
Keywords such as low-carb characterise diets that place more emphasis on an increased intake of proteins.
Strict reduction diets will show you how important a sufficient supply of protein to the organism really is.
If in connection with them, the supply of protein is not ensured, the body begins to break down the body’s own proteins. This leads in particular to a breakdown of muscles. Proteins and protein building blocks are therefore indispensable for your weight management.
5. Proteins, protein building blocks and your needs
Researchers have developed certain requirement figures for proteins, amino acids, but also some individual amino acids. According to the DGE (German Society for Nutrition), the total protein requirement for an adult should typically be 0.8 g protein per kilogram body weight.
Different life circumstances and changing situations can increase this requirement.
For athletes, for example, there are requirement values between 2 g and over 6 g/kilogram body weight.
Standardised values are difficult to develop for the supply of proteins, protein building blocks and single amino acids. Our requirements can develop very individually. It cannot be ruled out that one or the other drug could increase your need for amino acids as a side effect.
Should you as an athlete additionally take products with proteins, protein building blocks or a certain amino acid?
This question is answered differently. Intensive research is continuing here.
However, initial findings indicate that an additional supply of proteins and protein building blocks can be useful, for example to maintain, regenerate and build up the muscles under intensive stress.
Some athletes also report in a field report about good experiences with the additional intake of a specific amino acid such as Arginine or a building block group such as BCAA.
6. Amino and the balanced diet
A balanced diet could provide you with all the protein building blocks. However, we have already seen that it can be difficult to determine and implement the composition of a balanced diet.
As a vegan, an athlete, a senior or a sick person, knowing your individual needs for nutrients such as protein can be a challenge because they are subject to fluctuations.
In addition, you may not be able to put together an optimal diet every day.
7. Deficiency in protein and protein supply
How do you recognise deficiencies in the supply of protein and protein building blocks?
Because amino acids have so many different functions, these symptoms, among others, can indicate a deficiency in supply:
- loss of physical performance
- muscle loss
- problems with hair loss and premature wrinkling
- moods and other negative changes in mood
- weaknesses of the immune system
- disorders of thyroid function with lethargy or
Important for you: Deficiencies in the supply of proteins develop insidiously, so they are often not noticed at first. Therefore, be attentive if you notice changes in your body and especially in your well-being.
In connection with a deficiency of amino acids, many people also report that everything seems more difficult for them – daily tasks, physical work and special requirements.
Sensible dietary supplementation?
We cannot give you a recommendation as to whether a dietary supplement with amino acids in general or with a specific amino acid is necessary for you.
However, experience shows that many people benefit from an additional supply of proteins and protein building blocks. They feel an increased sense of well-being, increased performance and combine more power, lightness and joy of life with the protein building blocks during sporting activities or in stressful life situations.
Especially the essential protein building blocks as dietary supplements as in amino4u seem to provide positive experiences when taken together.
Protein building blocks work together so that the isolated supply of an amino acid can be estimated less effective. So far it could not be determined that an additional supply of amino acids would be associated with a side effect.
A possible benefit of additionally supplied amino acids is therefore clearly above the risk of a side effect.
If some things in your life could be easier with more protein, a test is worthwhile. This is especially true in old age when many building and maintenance processes in the body slow down. Here amino acids could be the “turbo” for more vitality and well-being.