There are 40,000 proteins in your body. They are a main source of energy, promote repair of damaged tissue, and function as the building blocks of muscle. They also perform a variety of other important functions.
Proteins consist of amino acids linked by peptide bonds. Although amino acids are the main components and the nutritional part of these complex compounds, most of the 40,000 proteins in your body are made from only twenty amino acids. These standard amino acids are included in the genetic code of every living being. After the proteins are constructed by your body, however, some of these amino acids become attached to other functional groups (such as phosphates or lipids), at which point they are structurally changed into different amino acids. These, too, are important for nutritional health.
All amino acids are divided into three categories. Some are essential amino acids because your system cannot manufacture them on its own. Others are nonessential amino acids – although important for your health, they are made in sufficient quantities by your body and do not need to be ingested. The last group is conditionally essential amino acids. These can be made by your body under normal conditions. However, you may need to ingest them in certain situations: factors such as fever, illness, diet, or chemotherapy may cause a person to be unable to manufacture these amino acids, or a process such as detoxification may be using all the amino acids the body has made.
If you are deficient in one or two amino acids, you can buy amino acid supplements from any of the pharmaceutical grade companies from which they are offered. If you are deficient in several amino acids, your doctor can contact a compounding pharmacist, who can formulate amino acids into a prescription specific for you. The Professional Compounding Centers of America (PCCA) can help you find a compounding pharmacist near you.
When you are buying amino acids, be sure to buy only those of pharmaceutical grade. You should also attempt to buy free amino acids, which are amino acids that are in their purest form and do not need to be digested before being utilized. Instead, they are absorbed directly into the bloodstream and immediately put to use by your body.
You will see that most amino acids come in two forms: D- and L- (such as D-carnitine and L-carnitine). The D-amino acid is a mirror image of the L-amino acid. They are very similar, and both can be taken as supplements. However, the L-form is preferable because it is the exact image of the amino acid in its natural form as found in your body (while the D-form is backwards). For that reason, the L- form is considered more effective than the D- form for overall human health. (The amino acids glycine and taurine are each available in only one form, and are therefore not designated D- or L-).
Your body needs vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) to metabolize most amino acid supplements. Also, consult a physician before taking any amino acid supplements if you have diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, or liver disease.
Symptoms of an Amino Acid Deficiency
ADD/ADHD, Aggressive behavior, Alcoholism, Anxiety, Arthritis, Blood sugar disorders, Chronic fatigue, Craving carbohydrates and sugar, Depression, Fibromyalgia, Food or chemical allergies, Frequent colds, Frequent headaches, Hyperactivity, Immune dysfunction, Insomnia, Mental or emotional problems, Mood swings or disorders, Neurological disorders, Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), Panic attacks, Premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and Recurrent ear infections.
The standard amino acid alanine is one of the simplest structured amino acids. It is also one of the most widely used amino acids in your body. Alanine is nonessential, and requires vitamin B6 for metabolism.
Functions of Alanine in Your Body
• Converts into glucose when energy is needed or blood sugar levels decrease
• Helps break down glucose, which provides your body with energy
• Helps form neurotransmitters
• Involved in production of antibodies
• Is an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain
• Required for the metabolization of tryptophan
Food Sources of Alanine
Beans, Brewer’s yeast, Dairy products, Duck, Fish, Nuts, Sausage, Turkey and Wheat germ.
Check with your doctor before starting an amino acid regiment if you have kidney or liver disease.