(NaturalNews) Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and are found in any food that contains protein - including grains, nuts and legumes in addition to other sources like meat, poultry, dairy and fish. Think of amino acids as pieces of a complex protein puzzle. They can be disassembled and reassembled to build and repair all kinds of tissue in the body. This makes them vitally important to every one of your body's functions.
Some amino acids must come from outside sources, and these are called essential amino acids. Other amino acids can be made by the body - these are called the nonessential amino acids - as long as a person is healthy and takes in plenty of the essential amino acids. Whether they be essential or nonessential, however, all of the amino acids used by the human body are absolutely critical for healthy living.
Who Can Benefit From Amino Acid Supplements?
While it's important to try to get a balance of amino acids from your diet, this isn't possible for everyone. Certain situations can make it necessary to supplement with one or more amino acids.
There are many reasons someone might benefit from taking an amino acid supplement. Strenuous exercise, aging, drug use, certain medications, infections, vitamin C deficiency, and B vitamin deficiency can all cause an imbalance in amino acids in the body. Here are some examples of when amino acid supplements can help:
- Research has shown athletes, body builders and others with a physically demanding lifestyle can experience better performance and stamina when they take amino acid supplements.
- Amino acids can help speed recovery time in those who have experienced physical trauma or have undergone surgery.
- Supplementing with amino acids is crucial for those with conditions that prevent them from eating solid foods. In these cases, amino acid supplements can help make up for some of the protein lost in the diet.
- People with conditions like Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, dementia, HIV/Aids, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, adrenal fatigue and liver disease can all benefit from a general amino acid supplement. They may also find certain individual amino acid supplements to be very helpful as well.
- Vegetarians, and especially vegans, may find it difficult to obtain a variety of amino acids from their diet. While it's true that vegetables, grains, pulses, legumes and nuts do contain protein, a large variety of food must be consumed in order to provide adequate amounts of all the amino acids. There are vegetarian and vegan amino acid supplements available for those who need them.
Remember: it's not the amount of protein that is important as much as it is the variety. While adequate protein is certainly an important part of nutrition, eating it in excess will not solve amino acid deficiencies and can cause other imbalances in the body. Simply taking in more protein cannot solve the problem if you have an amino acid deficiency. It's important to vary your protein sources and supplement with amino acids if necessary.
Tips for Taking Amino Acid Supplements:
- Free-form white crystalline amino acid supplements are usually high quality, non-allergenic and readily absorbable. Liquid forms are also recommended, and are useful if you are looking for a simple way to get more amino acids. Look for amino acids in the L- form (such an L-glutamine or L-cystine), which are easier for the body to use.
- If you have a need for specific amino acids, take them alone on an empty stomach to ensure they are utilized to their full extent. General amino acid supplements should be included within 30 minutes of a meal.
Balch, Phyllis A. Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 4th Edition. (2006) Avery Trade.
About the author
Elizabeth Walling is a freelance writer specializing in health and family nutrition. She is a strong believer in natural living as a way to improve health and prevent modern disease. She enjoys thinking outside of the box and challenging common myths about health and wellness. You can visit her blog to learn more: www.livingthenourishedlife.com/2009/10/welco...