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:

Fox News

What is the most nutritious vegetable you can buy?
Fox News
The CDC recently ranked 47 of America's most common fruits and vegetables, and 41 out of 47 tested were determined to be “powerhouse” sources of nutrition. Each of the fruits and vegetables were analyzed on a scale that measures the amount of fiber, ...



Boston Globe

Six myths about nutrition and health
Boston Globe
Fact: Vegetables are typically frozen at peak ripeness and may be more nutritious than fresh vegetables bought from the produce department out of season, said Joan Salge Blake, a registered dietitian and a clinical associate professor of nutrition at ...

and more »


'Great need for good nutrition' in malnourished Myanmar: ANZ Nutrition
DairyReporter.com
Speaking with DairyReporter.com, Neil McIntyre, the Yangon-based director of ANZ Nutrition, said Myanmar - formerly Burma - has emerged from 50-years of military rule with a "great need for good nutrition." "An estimated 6m children suffer from ...



Merced Sun-Star

Atwater schools give parents nutrition instruction
Merced Sun-Star
'Parent Nutrition Night' was our first attempt to reach out to our parents on the importance of raising awareness about sugar content in beverages and its impact on health-related issues,” Ludwig said. “In addition to the display of sugary drinks, we ...



Observer-Reporter

Kids learning value of exercise, nutrition
Observer-Reporter
Waynesburg Central Elementary School students walk 22 laps around the gym Tuesday and Thursday mornings as part of the Kids of STEEL program. The goal for some of the participants is to be able to run or walk a mile as part of the Pittsburgh Marathon ...



STATS

Can Selfies Save Nutrition Science?
STATS
You may have never heard of the Energy Balance Working Group, but this collection of 45 experts on nutrition, exercise, biochemistry, and other related disciplines have collectively thrown a “House-like” wrench into the research literature on ...



Shaw's grocery awards senior nutrition grant to CVCOA
vtdigger.org
To ensure that Central Vermont seniors living at risk of hunger receive the nutrition vital to their overall health and wellness, CVCOA partners with 14 senior meal sites to provide more than 190,000 meals to 1,700 elders each year. Home-delivered ...



CBC.ca

Nutrition North: Feds Mull Changes To Oft-Criticized Food Subsidy
Huffington Post Canada
"We are also working with the Nutrition North Canada advisory board to engage with northerners, retailers and suppliers on ideas to keep the program on a sustainable path including increased operating efficiencies and other program improvement ...
Government looking at changes to Nutrition North food subsidyCBC.ca
Feds planning changes to Nutrition North program after it was blasted by ...Winnipeg Free Press

all 28 news articles »


Care2.com

5 Biggest Nutrition Mistakes Beginners Make
Care2.com
You need to be eating nutritious, antioxidant-rich foods and choosing the right types of foods for health. Educate yourself on the difference between carbohydrates, dietary fats, and proteins and aim to consume a well-balanced combination of the three.

and more »


Harvard Health Publications

Microwave cooking and nutrition »
Harvard Health Publications
As far as vegetables go, cooking them in water robs them of some of their nutritional value because the nutrients leach out into the cooking water. For example, boiled broccoli loses glucosinolate, the sulfur-containing compound that may give the ...


Google News


Advertisement



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

Copyright 2006 Luminati Inc. All rights reserved.