Amino acids are the basic building blocks of the body. They are also sources of energy, like fats and carbohydrates. However, amino acids are structurally characterised by the fact that they contain nitrogen (N), whereas fats and carbohydrates do not. Therefore, only amino acids are capable of forming tissues, organs, muscles, skin and hair.
The importance of amino acids as the precursors of enzymes and neurotransmitters is often underestimated. As such, amino acids regulate almost all of the metabolic processes in the human body, and they are essential for a healthy body.
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Amino acids are extremely versatile: most hormones consist of amino acids, and they transport nutrients and oxygen through the body. Antibodies also consist mostly of amino acids, therefore a lack of amino acids can quickly reveal itself in a poorly functioning immune system.
One fifth of our body consists of proteins and their building blocks amino acids. Muscles, bones and skin in particular include large amounts of protein. Amino acids are therefore essential for growth and the constant repair of these tissues. Typical symptoms of undersupply are therefore poor growth of finger and toenails, skin, hair as well as poor healing of cuts and tears.
Although more than 200 different amino acids exist, the most well known are the so-called 22 proteinogenic amino acids. They are the building blocks of complex proteins and therefore crucial for the growth and maintenance of key tissue such as muscle, skin and hair. This website is about those 22 amino acids we will show you the most important applications in the fields of medicine and sports explaining clearly how you can use them to balance your general health and well-being.
Foods high in amino acids
Amino acids occur in very different concentrations within different foods. Generally meat, dairy products and seafood offer the best sources of amino acids because they are protein rich. However, plant derived food can also provide good a source of protein and amino acids.
An increasing number of people choose to eat plant-based proteins over animal proteins for ethical and health reasons. Many of the plants and seeds are cheap to source and several (like Quinoa and Amaranth) boast a complete amino acid profile.
The term “complete” refers to foods that have all nine essential amino acids present in the correct proportion for our bodies to build protein with.
Here is our list of plant derived (per 100g)
|Soybeans (dry)||33.0 g|
|Wheat germ||26.6 g|
|Lentils (dry)||23.5 g|
|Wholemeal spelled flour||13.3 g|
|Wheat flour||10 g|
|Lentils (cooked)||7.4 g|
|White bread||7.3 g|
|Whole wheat bread||7.0 g|
|Bean sprouts||5.3 g|
|Pasta (cooked, drained)||4.0 g|
Medical applications of amino acids
Today, amino acids are central to the field of orthomolecular medicine, which describes the practice of preventing and treating disease by providing the body with optimal amounts of nutrients such as vitamins, dietary minerals, proteins, antioxidants, amino acids and fatty acids. Crucially, these nutrients are all natural to the human body.
The benefits of supplementing optimal amounts of such nutrients for improved health and protein synthesis have been empirically proven and published in research papers and scientific journals.
Importantly, the field of orthomolecular medicine is not meant to substitute, but rather complement classical medicine. The supplementation of important nutrients in large doses is often complimentary to classical medical therapy and can reduce side effects, increase primary effects of medication or simply help to reduce risks associated with treatments.
Here are a few examples of how amino acids are used in medical applications:
L-arginine improves blood flow throughout your entire body
The amino acid L-arginine includes the largest amount of Nitrogen of all amino acids and is therefore considered the most precious of them all. L-arginine is the key building block in the Nitrogen-Monoxide (NO) molecule, which helps to control relaxation of arteries and therefore the rate of blood that flows through them.
In 1998 the Nobel Prize in Medicine was won by a team of scientists led by Dr. Louis J. Ignarro, who demonstrated the importance of nitric-oxide (NO) and the vast amount of benefits to the human body caused by improved circulation. Ignarro, Furchgott und Murrad were warded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1998 for their research on L-arginine and the importance of Nitrogen-Monoxide. Dr Ignarro published his findings in the best-selling book NO More Heart Disease.
The vast benefits caused by improved circulation are in summary:
- L-arginine can significantly improve male virility due to its central role in the regulation of blood flow. This requires 3,000 – 5,000mg per day of pharmaceutical grade L-arginine according to several studies. However, pharmacies rarely stock cost-effective products with the recommended dosage.
- Reduced risk of Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) and heart attack. CHD is normally caused by narrowing or complete blockage of the coronary arteries called atherosclerosis. Increased NO levels significantly reduce the risk of atherosclerosis.
- Arginine stimulates production of human growth hormone (HGH), which is known as the anti-ageing hormone.
- Arginine stimulates the growth of hair by increasing blood flow in the scalp. This ensures a constant supply of valuable nutrients.
- More blood flow means better supply of nutrients and therefore increased performance during and faster recovery after exercise. The long term effect is a change in “body composition” as muscle tissue increases fat tissue decreases. The result is a large number of health benefits such as better confidence caused by an overall favourable and attractive body shape, better joint support, more elastic arteries and so on.
- Improved circulation is beneficial in the treatment of Tinnitus. Treatments have been released, which aid the natural healing following a sudden loss of hearing. Suitable products can mostly be found in online pharmacies.
- Osteoarthritis: L-arginine can also be used for a general, supportive treatment of weak blood vessels and atherosclerosis.
All seven applications of L-arginine have in common that there are no known side-effects provided the supplement is produced to pharmaceutical grade.
L-glutathione is a super antioxidant, which protects your body from ageing and increases virility
L-glutathione (GSH) is a linear tripeptide. This means it is built out of the three amino acids L-glutamic acid, L-cysteine and L-glycine. It is a particularly strong antioxidant and protects cells from damage caused by free radicals.
L-glutathione is critical for the organism and plays a central role in many metabolic processes.
Glutathione is able to prevent oxidation of lipids (important fats such as Omega-3 fatty acids), proteins and most importantly nucleid acids, which are central to the process of cell division and therefore growth.
Glutathione is therefore central to the human body’s ability to grow and maintain healthy tissue, in other words, its ability to stay young.
Due to its strong antioxidant properties L-glutathione supports the quality of sperm and hence male virility.
A large number of research studies investigating the importance of Glutathione for the immune system and for cancer patients have been conducted with promising results.
For in-depth information and links to scientific studies on each amino acid and health benefit please refer to the individual pages.