Amino acids are organic compounds that are essential for the proper functioning of the body. Sie sind die Bausteine von Proteinen und sind an vielen Mechanismen und Prozessen beteiligt, die notwendig sind, um die Homöostase des Systems aufrechtzuerhalten. They also have a big impact on muscle mass, so they are not alien to any lover of an active lifestyle.
Amino acids - what exactly is it?
Amino acids are derivatives of organic acids in which at least one of the hydrogen atoms is replaced by an amine group. These are the basic nutrients for cells that enable them to grow, multiply and function.
Amino acids in the human body differ in the structure and length of the side chain and interaction. However, the body needs about 20 amino acids to maintain the proper course of life processes.
Division of amino acids
We can divide amino acids into protein and non-protein.
Non-protein ones perform other functions than the building material. We can distinguish over 300 different non-protein amino acids. In turn, protein amino acids, as the name suggests, are part of proteins and are divided into exogenous and endogenous.
Essential exogenous amino acids (also known as EAA amino acids) are those that the body cannot synthesize on its own, which is why they must be supplied from the outside, along with food.
This group includes 8 different amino acids such as phenylalanine, lysine, methionine, threonine and tryptophan. Among the exogenous substances, we can also distinguish BCAA amino acids, which include leucine, isoleucine and valine.
In turn, endogenous amino acids are those that are naturally synthesized in the body, in amounts that cover the daily requirement. Endogenous amino acids include alanine, aspargine, glutamic acid, aspartic acid or serine.
We also distinguish a group of relatively exogenous amino acids, which include glutamine, arginine, glycine, cysteine and tyrosine, and proline. These are amino acids that the body can produce on its own, but there are situations when the body's demand exceeds the production capacity of the body. Then it is necessary to supply these ingredients with food or in the form of dietary supplements.
BCAA amino acids
These are branched-chain amino acids that have different biological properties from other amino acids and the place of their catabolism is mainly skeletal muscles.
These substances support the building of muscle mass, nourish and protect muscles from breakdown, and also support the process of fat burning.
Branched chain amino acids BCAAs include amino acids such as leucine, isoleucine and valine.
Leucine regulates blood sugar levels and increases muscle protein synthesis, as well as counteracts muscle breakdown. Isoleucine has an anti-catabolic effect and is responsible for energy production, while valine improves the processes of obtaining energy in the muscles and also protects them from breakdown.
Branched chain amino acids are particularly important in the diet of physically active people, because they prevent the consumption of protein during intense physical exertion, are responsible for reducing the feeling of fatigue after training, and also support the use of proteins for building purposes, thanks to which muscle mass growth occurs.
Functions of amino acids
Although the first association with amino acids are proteins, so the building function immediately comes to mind, amino acids also play other important roles in the body.
They enable the synthesis of certain neurotransmitters, digestive enzymes and hormones. They affect the proper functioning of organs and systems i.e. liver or central nervous system. They are also of great importance for proper growth.
The role of essential amino acids
EAA amino acids, i.e. essential exogenous amino acids, primarily build proteins in the body, but they are also responsible for other functions.
- Valine supports muscle regeneration and contributes to the reduction of excess body fat,
- Leucine stabilizes the level of glucose in the blood, also increases the synthesis of muscle proteins,
- Isoleucine inhibits catabolism, supports regeneration and participates in muscle metabolism,
- Lysine supports the immune system, has antiviral functions, participates in the growth of cartilage and tendons,
- Methionine regulates the production of growth hormone, inhibits the development of inflammation of the joint area and supports the natural processes of connective tissue regeneration,
- Threonine has a positive effect on immunity and supports fat metabolism, it is also a building block of antibodies,
- Phenylalanine stimulates the production of adrenaline, and is also involved in the synthesis of dopamine and norepinephrine. It is also responsible for the proper functioning of the nervous system,
- Tryptophan is a precursor of serotonin, it is involved in the synthesis of proteins and reduces the feeling of pain.
The role of endogenous amino acids
Endogenous amino acids, i.e. those that the body can synthesize on its own, are also necessary for the proper functioning of the entire system. They perform many important functions in the human body.
- Alanine is responsible for the transport of glucose to the brain and the conduction of red blood cells, it is also involved in the synthesis of antibodies, protecting the immune system,
- Aspartic acid improves concentration and mental performance. It also stimulates the secretion of growth hormone, glucagon and insulin,
- Glutamic acid improves memory, supports digestive processes, and also acts as a neurotransmitter,
- Asparagine supports the processes of learning and remembering, has a positive effect on concentration, acts as a neurotransmitter,
- Serine is involved in the production of nucleotides, has a beneficial effect on the body's immunity, protects against the loss of muscle tissue and increases its growth.
The role of relatively exogenous amino acids
Relatively exogenous amino acids are responsible for the work of both the circulatory and skeletal systems. They also play an important role in the synthesis of collagen and support the work of the immune system.
- Arginine accelerates wound healing processes, regulates blood pressure, improves heart function,
- Cysteine is involved in the production of collagen and the construction of glutathione,
- Glutamine is responsible for the acid-base balance and supports the work of the intestines,
- Tyrosine is involved in the production of collagen and the synthesis of melanin,
- Glycine supports the digestive and immune systems,
- Proline strengthens bones, joints and tendons, and is also involved in the synthesis of collagen.
The importance of amino acids in the athlete's diet
Amino acids in an athlete's diet are extremely important. Due to the high demand for these ingredients among physically active people, getting amino acids from food may not be enough. Dietary supplements come to the rescue, which are an excellent source of essential substances.
Athletes especially appreciate branched chain amino acids. And it is hardly surprising, BCAAs increase the efficiency of training, while supporting muscle growth. What's more, amino acids from this group improve athletic performance, stimulate muscle regeneration after intense physical exertion, and also reduce the feeling of fatigue.
They are also a source of energy for muscles, inhibit catabolism, allow for faster growth of lean muscle mass and reduction of body fat.
Creatine is also very popular among athletes, which is a combination of three amino acids, namely arginine, methionine and glycine. Creatine affects the ability to regenerate muscle fibers and the wound healing process. It supports the body in the post-workout period, as well as in building muscle mass. Most importantly, it increases lean body mass.
Amino acid sources
For the proper course of most processes in the body, proteins are necessary. And since proteins, then also amino acids. Therefore, it is crucial to provide the body with essential amounts of amino acids, especially exogenous ones, which the body cannot produce on its own and their only source is food.
Foods that should not be missing in our daily diet are meat, milk and dairy products, as well as eggs. It is these products of animal origin that are a source of wholesome protein - they contain all exogenous amino acids needed for the proper functioning of the body.
In turn, incomplete proteins, i.e. those that do not contain all EAA amino acids, are found in most plant products. These include legume seeds, grains, groats and nuts.
This is especially important from the point of view of supporters of vegetarian diets. To provide the body with all the necessary amino acids without using products of animal origin, it is necessary to carefully combine plant products, so as to balance the balance of essential amino acids.
Deficiencies and excesses of amino acids in the human body
Significant protein deficiencies are rare, mainly as a result of extreme malnutrition or starvation. However, there are deficiencies of some exogenous amino acids. Insufficient supply of branched chain amino acids BCAAs can contribute to increased fatigue, headache and fatigue. Deficiency of other ingredients may be manifested by apathy, insomnia, problems with concentration and memory.
In the case of an excess of amino acids in the diet, there is usually an increased breakdown and use of the substance as a source of energy. In some situations, exceeding the recommended portion of these ingredients results in acidosis or an increased risk of kidney stones formation.
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