Bookmark Website  | Free Registration  | The Team
The Lounge  | Champions  | The Wire |  Schedule |  Audio  |  Arcade  |  The Top Ten  |  Historical  |  Email  |  Video

Understanding Amino Acids and their Importance in Diet


The importance of protein in a healthy diet is well known to nutritional scientists, and widely understood by the general population. Indeed, every bodily system is directly or indirectly supported by protein. For example, protein supports the structural development of cells, helps ensure the integrity of tissue, aids digestion, carries hormones, and strengthens the immune system[i].

More recently, however, the motivation for people to choose protein-rich foods has been fueled by carbohydrate-free and carbohydrate-reduced diets, such as the Atkins? Diet, South Beach Diet? and Isometric Diet?. Via each of these diet programs, millions of people are vigilantly scanning food labels, and asking pertinent health questions when eating out. Added to this growing number of protein-aware people are, of course, the millions of bodybuilders, powerlifters and athletes who have demonstrated for centuries the irreplaceable value of protein in building and maintaining muscle.

As impressive and inspiring as it is to see that more people than ever before are "protein-conscious", there is still more useful protein information to learn. It is well past time to add an understanding of amino acids to this protein knowledge base.

Many people - understandably -- do not recognize that amino acids are not acids as they are conventionally understood. Rather, they are the molecular units that comprise protein. They are, quite simply, the very building blocks of protein.

Amino acids are organic compounds that contain two groups of molecules: amino (-NH2) and carboxyl (-COOH). There are a total of 19 amino acids in the human diet, of which 11 are non-essential, and the remaining 8 are essential. It is this critically important fact - that there are 2 kinds of amino acids -- that should be well understood and acted upon by eaters everywhere.

If the term "amino acid" does not readily suggest the link to protein, the terms "non-essential" amino acids and "essential" amino acids can be sources of even greater confusion. The nutritional world is fond of the word "essential", and uses it often to describe something that is important, or critical, or irreplaceable. For example, a nutritionist may rationally inform her patient that eating 50 grams of protein per day is essential; and by this she means "very important".

This same application of the term does now, however, flow to the "essential" and "non essential" amino acid vocabulary.

Non-essential amino acids are those that the body is able to synthesize itself. This does not mean, of course, that the body can create these non-essential amino acids out of nothing. Rather, it means that the body's own internal laboratory can create these 11 non-essential amino acids from raw materials. It is for this reason that these 11 amino acids are called non-essential; it has nothing to do with the term "important" or "unimportant". These 11 non-essential amino acids include, in alphabetical order:[ii]

- Alanine
- Arginine
- Asparagine
- Aspartic Acid
- Cysteine
- Glutamic Acid
- Glutamine
- Glycine
- Histidine
- Proline
- Tyrosine

The remaining 8 amino acids are called essential; and this refers to the fact that they cannot be synthesized. The body can only receive them exogenously (eg. through food). These essential amino acids include, in alphabetical order:[iii]

- Isoleucine
- Leucine
- Lysine
- Methionine
- Phenylalanine
- Serine
- Threonine
- Tryptophan
- Valine

Understanding the importance of amino acids is critical, because a failure to eat foods that contain these essential amino acids can lead to deficiency and adverse health effects. These effects can include - but are not limited to -- fatigue, allergies, loss of memory, and even heart disease[iv]. When one considers the pain and suffering caused by any of these four ill health effects, and the myriad of subsequent ailments that they can provoke, it becomes readily apparent that a knowledge of amino acids, and especially "essential" amino acids, must be a part of an intelligent eater's knowledge base.

While there has been some movement on the part of nutritional supplement companies to provide eaters with convenient and palatable sources of protein, many of them have put their marketing needs first and ignored amino acids altogether. As a consequence of this omission, some eaters are actually suffering from an "overdose" of incomplete protein. This is because what they are eating may not provide them with the total, essential protein that they need. The only complete proteins on the planet are derived from dairy, meat, fish, poultry and soy, and these foods are not present in our most common foods. There are, however, protein supplements that also offer proteins with the full spectrum of amino acids.

The solution here is uncomplicated and accessible. Eaters must simply choose to eat foods and nutritional supplements that offer a "complete" source of protein. This means that all 19 essential amino acids must be present including, of course, the "essential 8" amino acids that the body cannot synthesize.

There are some companies - though still clearly in the minority - that create nutritional supplements that carefully ensure that all of the amino acids are present. It is notable that these companies do not necessarily have to do this, since neither the Food and Drug Administration nor many consumers are demanding this from their food labeling; at least, not yet. This is all the more reason to laud those companies that are putting people and nutrition first, and marketing a distant second.

ABOUT PROTICA

Founded in 2001, Protica, Inc. is a nutritional research firm with offices in Lafayette Hill and Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. Protica manufactures capsulized foods, including Profect, a compact, hypoallergenic, ready-to-drink protein beverage containing zero carbohydrates and zero fat. Information on Protica is available at http://www.protica.com

You can also learn about Profect at http://www.profect.com

REFERENCES

[i] Source: "Amino Acids. Diet-and-health-net. http://www.diet-and-health.net/Nutrients/AminoAcids.html

[ii] Source: "Amino Acids". About.com. http://exercise.about.com/library/Glossary/bldef-amino_acids.htm

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Source: "What are Amino Acids?". Vanderbilt University. http://vanderbiltowc.wellsource.com/dh/content.asp?ID=759

Copyright 2004 - Protica Research - http://www.protica.com


MORE RESOURCES:

Good nutrition during the first 1000 days of life is critically important
Washington Post
There has been a lot of focus in recent years on kids' nutrition — the obesity epidemic, getting kids to move, changing the way they eat at school. That's all good and helpful (we think and hope). But what if we started earlier? What if healthy eating ...



Diet for your DNA: Novel nutrition plan sparks debate around data protection
Medical Xpress
Poor nutrition contributes to the incidence of many diseases. It has been estimated that approximately 80% of cases of cardiac disease, stroke, Type II diabetes and 40% of cancers could be avoided through improved lifestyle, including those related to ...

and more »


USA TODAY

Brian Urlacher talks exercise, nutrition, and getting out what you put in
USA TODAY
Nutrition is a huge deal. If you eat bad food you're body's gonna give you bad results. You really do get out what you put in. I was always a big snacker and it was always really hard to find stuff that was actually healthy to eat. Oberto's beef jerky ...



Misreporting diet information could impact nutrition recommendations for Hispanics
Medical Xpress
The paper, "Misreporting of dietary intake affects estimated nutrient intakes in low-income Spanish-speaking women," was recently published in the online version of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Researchers interviewed a group ...



BU Today

Rx Nutrition
BU Today
While she's well-versed in her personal nutritional needs, Sandhu (MED'18) could use some more general advice. What the medical student really wants dietetic intern Rogan (SAR'14) to tell her is what type of nutritional advice she should give to her ...



NY1

Nutritionist Gets Kids Teaching Kids about Nutrition
NY1
Researchers analyzed the weight of about 16,000 children and teens, but the National Health and Nutrition Exam Survey was not all good news. For older children who are obese—their waist size remained pretty much the same. Nancy Lessner says her ...

and more »


New All-Natural Protein Bars from Extend Nutrition Touted as the “Best Tasting ...
The Edwardsville Intelligencer
Extend Nutrition is the only company with a sugar free and gluten free protein bar that is clinically proven to help control blood sugar for six to nine hours. Along with the bars, Extend offers a variety of healthy choices including crunchy snacks and ...

and more »


Ghana News Agency

Participants in a group photograph
Ghana News Agency
The seminar's objective was to educate journalists on the essence of ICN2 and major issues in agriculture, food and nutrition security in Sub-Saharan Africa. Prof Esilfie-Conduah pointed out that poor remuneration of journalists underlies the lack of ...
Journalists educated on ICN2spyghana.com

all 2 news articles »


POPSUGAR (blog)

This Health Guru Nixed Clinical Jobs and Pursued Her Dream Job Instead!
POPSUGAR (blog)
A naturally "good eater," the Nashville-based RD and blogger behind Nutrition Stripped found her nutritional niche in college, heeding the call to help others form healthy lifestyle habits, too. But when several rounds of clinically based jobs ended up ...



Ithaca Journal

Cornell gets $856K for nutrition, obesity research
Ithaca Journal
Cornell University has been named as a Center of Excellence for Research and Nutrition Education. With the designation, Cornell receives $856,250 in federal funding to implement programs that bolster nutrition research and combat obesity. The funding ...
USDA Awards Funding for Regional Centers of Excellence in Nutrition ...USDA.gov (press release)

all 3 news articles »

Google News


Advertisement



Section Site Map - Submit News - Feedback - Comments - Advertise with Us

Copyright © 2006 Luminati Inc. All rights reserved.