Are you concerned about your supply of proteins and amino acids? Are you particularly interested in which foods you take in one or the other amino acid naturally when you eat? We have compiled the most important information on this topic for you.
You will also find out in which phases of life you may have a higher need for protein and protein components.
The importance of amino acids for the human organism
Amino acids are also known as protein or protein building blocks. They form chains of different lengths and thus proteins as well as peptides. A large number of physical functions require protein building blocks.
Among others, they
- are the basis for all body tissue.
- are the basis for various hormones, messenger substances and neurotransmitters.
- influence important physical areas such as the immune system and mental balance.
Protein is also one of the 3 macronutrients along with fats and carbohydrates. It is also characteristic of protein and protein building blocks that they are subject to constant transformation processes. This is why they play a leading role in a wide range of metabolic functions, including the liver.
The functions and effects of different protein building blocks in the human body have been studied in detail in various scientific studies. For example, it was also recognized for individual building blocks that
- they can support performance in sports,
- can be helpful in losing weight,
- can regulate the blood pressure,
- can promote the potency-ability.
But how can you take up sufficient amounts of the different protein building blocks, or how does your body produce the most important protein building blocks itself?
Sources for essential protein building blocks
The essential protein building blocks are of particular importance in the human organism. These are 8 representatives from the superordinate group of the so-called proteinogenic building blocks. Proteinogenic means tissue forming. We are dealing here with the protein building blocks that are indispensable as building materials of all body tissues.
These essential protein building blocks such as
cannot be produced by the human organism.
According to the American scientist Professor Luca-Moretti, essential protein building blocks form the human amino acid pattern. Luca-Moretti has developed the theory that all mammals – including humans – have their own amino acid pattern. This profile is formed from protein building blocks that are particularly well utilisable for the respective organism.
In humans, the essential protein building blocks are over 99% utilizable. They can be almost completely converted into the body’s own protein.
According to Prof. Luca-Moretti, all these building blocks should be available to the organism simultaneously and in specific quantity ratios. Only in this way can all functional areas be served and the protein metabolism works without any problems.
Other protein building blocks such as arginine or tyrosine are semi-essential. These building blocks are essential in special phases of life such as infancy or adolescence. In other phases of life, they are formed from other protein building blocks by the body itself.
Vegetarians and especially vegans can potentially develop a lack of essential protein building blocks not only with regard to the amino acid pattern. Vegetable foods regularly do not contain all essential amino acids in the quantities needed. They are usually completely contained only in animal foods.
Almost all types of fish and meat are rich in essential protein building blocks. As a rule, they mainly contain all essential building blocks at the same time.
Therefore strict vegetarians and vegans must inform themselves very well about the respective contents of essential protein building blocks in individual foods. They can then achieve a better, though not necessarily ideal, supply of protein building blocks through certain combinations of plant foods.
Basically, it is true that not only one nutrient source ensures the supply of protein building blocks. Combinations and variations of the different foods are necessary, which in their entirety cover the requirements.
Sources for other protein building blocks
Even though building blocks such as arginine or tyrosine can be formed predominantly by the human organism itself, they are still very important. Tyrosine, for example, is the basis for the synthesis of an indispensable thyroid hormone. arginine plays a key role in the nitrogen cycle of the human body. It also has an effect on vascular tension and thus on blood pressure, among other things.
A lack of both essential and other protein components can manifest itself in different ways. These include diffuse signs of fatigue and exhaustion, but also the breakdown of the body’s own protein. You cannot be sure that your body is actually capable of producing all non-essential protein building blocks itself. It needs other substances and other protein building blocks for this formation.
The supply of supporting substances for protein formation depends on certain foods. Important here are foods that are rich in certain micronutrients and enzymes.
Essential components in food for the formation of protein building blocks
Enzymes are substances that initiate certain reactions and processes in the human body. They are also partly supplied with food and partly formed from other endogenous substances.
Most vitamins must be taken in with food.
Enzymes and vitamins are partly indispensable so that other protein building blocks can be formed from protein building blocks. This applies in particular to various vitamins from the vitamin B family. The demands on a supply of high-quality food are therefore relatively high if you want to ensure a protein metabolism that functions at all times.
Meeting needs through food
The World Health Organization (WHO) has established daily requirement values for the essential protein building blocks. According to these values, per kilogram of bodyweight you should take in
- Threonine 15 mg
- Tryptophane 4 mg
- Valine 26 mg
- Leucine 39 mg
- Isoleucine 20 mg
- Lysine 30 mg
- Methionine 15 mg
- Phenylanaline 25 mg.
The requirement values can fluctuate in different life situations, some values like leucine can increase fivefold or double like lysine.
Circumstances that influence the requirement values are for example illnesses, stress or age. In order to get a feeling for these values, the content of two foods for essential protein building blocks is shown below.
Broccoli – per 100 grams, the following contents of protein building blocks could be ingested:
- Threonine 111 mg
- Tryptophane 32 mg
- Valine 151 mg
- Leucine 151 mg
- Isoleucine 123 mg
- Lysine 148 mg
- Methionine 41 mg
- Phenylanaline 114 mg
The values refer to freshly cooked broccoli, which is consumed immediately.
At first glance, these values seem considerable. But they still say a lot about whether your body will actually absorb protein building blocks of this magnitude.
On the one hand, the amino acids are integrated into the food, i.e. they have to be extracted by using energy. This is considered more difficult with vegetable foods than with animal foods. The prerequisite for this is that all metabolic processes in the body function properly.
This is not always the case, especially at an advanced age. So what quantities of protein building blocks are actually available to the body, in the end, is a very individual question. The preparation and storage of cooked food also play a role.
All in all, the supply of one or the other amino acid can become tighter with plant-based foods. This is shown by the example of the content of methionine. In the unfavourable case, a larger part of this amino acid is not freely available for the body during food intake. In this case, the organism has to assemble the protein building blocks from different nutrient sources.
Here, the following values for the protein building blocks can be achieved per 100 grams of meat:
- Threonine 969 mg
- Tryptophane 242 mg
- Valine 1256 mg
- Leucine 1783 mg
- Isoleucine 1145 mg
- Lysine 1922 mg
- Methionine 550 mg
- Phenylanaline 902 mg
Can a supplement be a useful addition to the diet?
In certain life situations, such as under stress, in illness or advanced age, the need for protein building blocks increases. Here, supplementation can support the supply. High-quality food supplements with protein building blocks have various advantages. They supply the body with freely available protein building blocks.
If this is done in liquid form, for example, the building blocks do not first have to be removed from other foods by the body itself. They can already be used by the organism in a time of about 20-30 minutes.
Especially when it comes to the supply of essential building blocks, food supplements can make a valuable contribution to the supply. It is true that most foods contain protein building blocks. However, there is no guarantee that an amino acid from a natural nutrient source can be fully processed by the organism.
Natural foods sometimes differ considerably in their value when it comes to protein building blocks. If you have an additional requirement for a single amino acid such as arginine, a food supplement, e.g. amino4u, is a good way to cover this additional requirement.