Do you know essential amino acids? We introduce these special protein building blocks to you…
Are you interested in healthy nutrition? Then you are certainly aware of the importance of certain nutrients for your health and well-being. Our needs for macronutrients such as protein, carbohydrates and fats can vary throughout our lives. Our protein supply and thus the supply of the smallest protein components, the amino acids, is of particular importance.
Among other things, the protein building blocks serve as building material for our body tissues, as messenger substances in our nervous system and as the basis for other important substances. This could be a reason to have the status of the supply of the individual building blocks determined by a blood test in order to exclude defects.
Here we present you the aminogram – a special test procedure for amino determination in your blood.
Aminogram – What is it?
Aminograms are also called amino acid profiles. Values for protein building blocks are measured in the blood and blood serum.
In generell, the test procedure comprises the 20 proteinogenic building blocks. In the technical term proteinogen is the word protein. These building blocks are the basis of body protein. They also map the genetic information in the human body.
In total, there are estimated to be more than 400 amino acids that have a biological function. The proteinogenic building blocks are of particular importance for human health and important bodily functions.
Essential and non-essential building blocks
Our body forms some of the proteinogenic aminos on the basis of other substances and building blocks itself, 8 building blocks must be supplied regularly through food. The categorization of essential and non-essential aminos refers to this distinction in education.
The 8 essential protein building blocks are:
The remaining proteinogenic building blocks include:
A 21st building block?
Although we normally speak of 20 proteinogenic building blocks, there is a 21st proteinogenic amino acid.
This building block differs from the other amino acids because there is no separate DNA code for it. Selenocysteine still poses many puzzles to scientists. Nevertheless, it is assumed that we also need this 21st amino acid, which is produced in our body in a complex process.
A comprehensive aminogram could also measure this rare amino acid.
What is measured and how is it evaluated?
An amino acid status should ensure that there is no deficiency of one or the other building block. For this purpose, the blood values are determined, which indicate in which quantities the protein components are present in the blood.
A measurement is initially neutral. Only when the measured values are related to other values, statements about the supply situation can be made.
Normal values and ideal values?
Standard values for individual components play a role in the evaluation of a test. Most nutrition experts, such as the German Society for Nutrition (DGE) for adults, specify a total protein requirement of 0.8 g per kilogram of bodyweight per day.
Experts disagree on whether and how this need can increase in different life circumstances, for example in old age. The DGE recommends 1.0 g/kg bodyweight daily for seniors.
In addition, an increased protein requirement is also assumed for athletes, during stress and diets. Therefore, the recommendations vary between 0.8 g and 1.4 g-1.6g protein kilograms bodyweight per day.
The supply of total protein does not yet say much about whether there are imbalances in the supply of certain building blocks. Although some experts in the field of nutrition repeatedly point out that with our modern forms of nutrition we would take in sufficient amounts of protein, deficits can result in a single component.
Here, especially in the supply of essential amino acids, it can be interesting to know what kind of food we prefer to eat.
Some nutritionists, such as the US-American Professor Luca-Moretti, assign the essential building blocks to the amino acid pattern.
This pattern is intended to depict building blocks that are particularly easy for the human body to use and can thus be converted particularly effectively into the body’s own. We do not always absorb the entire amino acid pattern with our diet.
Since the essential building blocks are mainly completely represented in food of animal origin, vegetarians and vegans, in particular, may have deficits in individual building blocks. This is especially true if they do not consciously put their food together with a view to supplying the amino acids.
Values not specified in all ranges
The World Health Organization (WHO) has set requirement values for the daily supply of essential amino acids.
According to this, adults should consume at least these amounts of essential protein building blocks in grams per day and kilogram body weight:
- Phenylalanine 25
- Leucine 39
- Methionine 15
- Lysine 30
- Isoleucine 20
- Valine 26
- Threonine 15
- Tryptophan 4
- Histidine 10
- Cysteine 4
Various estimates are discussed for the non-essential protein building blocks. Exact supply values are not determined because our body produces them itself.
Hidden defects possible
There is hardly any other group of nutrients in the human organism that is subject to such transformation processes as the amino acids. However, this also means that there must always be many other substances, such as enzymes or nonproteinogenic building blocks, which are involved in the conversion processes.
Therefore, it is not easy to determine whether the supply of each individual significant amino acid is guaranteed.
Here, a test can provide a valuable status report, especially to show serious deficits in one single amino acid. We should generally take into account that in special life situations as well as with advancing age some processes are less effective than usual.
A good example is a calorie-reduced reduction diet. If a sufficient to maximized supply of protein is not ensured at the same time, there is a risk of muscle loss.
If muscles are lost during a diet, it cannot be successful in the medium or long term. We burn a major part of the energy in our muscles. The dreaded yo-yo effect in reduction diets is also due to a loss of musculature.
By breaking down muscles, we reduce our calorie requirements. If we stop the reduced calorie intake, our body will consume fewer calories after the diet than before. As a result, we will gain weight more quickly.
Aminogram: sense and limits of an amino status
In many life situations, it can be useful to determine the current status of the supply of the individual proteinogenic building blocks with a blood test. Here, deficits in one or the other amino acid can be prevented and, in the case of a proven deficit, the special building block can be added.
However, the significance of such a test also has its limits. An aminogram is a snapshot. A high level of expertise is required to interpret and evaluate the values currently available in an appropriate manner.
Specialist medical practitioners are able to do this. If you are offered a test, you should also select the provider according to how much experience they have in evaluating your amino status.
This also applies against the background that they regularly have to pay for the test themselves. Even without a blood test, you can ensure a regular supply of all essential building blocks, through a balanced diet or high-quality food supplements, for the basis in the supply of all amino acids.