top of page

What do Amino Acids do?

Updated: Jan 28, 2022


Firstly, what are amino acids? It doesn’t make sense to explain what they do without explaining what they are beforehand.


“Amino acids are the basic structural building blocks of proteins. Just as the letters of the alphabet can be combined in different ways to form an endless variety of words, a limited number of amino acids can be linked together in varying sequences to form a vast array of proteins.”[1]


Depending on the sequence of the amino acids, different proteins are created to perform different functions. There are three different types of amino acids:

● Essential amino acids

○ Only come from food

● Nonessential amino acids

○ Can be made by the body

● Conditional amino acids

○ Usually not essential, except in times of illness or stress[2]


Amino acids are used by your body to make so many different proteins. “Amino acids are required for life. Your body uses amino acids to build protein in your muscles, skin, hair, organs, and tissues and as a source of energy.”[3] Amino acids are important for:

● Building muscle

● Growing

● Breaking down food

● Repairing tissues

● Balancing nitrogen in your body

● Regulating your appetite

● Regulating your blood pressure

● Building brain chemicals

● Regulating your immune system[4]


In order to make sure you are getting enough essential amino acids in your body to help build protein, you can eat different types of protein! Some foods that contain complete proteins (all amino acids) are:

● Red meat

● Chicken

● Fish

● Seafood

● Eggs

● Milk

● Cheese

● Yogurt

● Quinoa

● Chia seeds

● Tofu


More plant foods that contain some (but not all) amino acids include:

● Grains

● Nuts

● Seeds

● Beans

● Legumes

● Fruits

● Vegetables[5]


These lists leave a lot of room for different dietary preferences or needs, so it should be easy to follow if you want to make sure you are getting enough amino acids to be able to help build the proteins your body needs to function.


 

References: [1] Amino acid. (2008, April 3). New World Encyclopedia, https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/p/index.php?title=Amino_acid&oldid=684821. [2] U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2021, March 11). Amino acids: Medlineplus medical encyclopedia. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002222.htm. [3] Ibid. [4] U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2021, March 11). Amino acids: Medlineplus medical encyclopedia. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002222.htm. [5] Ibid.


 

Contributors:

Author: Lauryn Agron

Editor: Kaitlyn Longstaff

Public Health Scientist: Carmen Havyarimana

@werise4wellness

14 views0 comments
bottom of page