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:

USDA.gov (press release) (blog)

USDA Team Nutrition Grants Promote Healthier Meals for Our Nation's ...
USDA.gov (press release) (blog)
Schools are successfully serving more nutritious meals to America's students, and healthier meals mean healthier kids. USDA is constantly working to do everything we can to support school nutrition professionals as they work to provide kids the ...
USDA Promotes Terrifying Body Exhibit to Fight Childhood ObesityWashington Free Beacon
What's for Lunch? Government mandates price increases for school mealsSturgis Journal

all 2 news articles »


Indian Country Today Media Network

Shakopee Mdewakanton and National Partners Launch $5 Million Native ...
Indian Country Today Media Network
According to a press release, The Seeds of Native Health campaign will improve awareness of Native nutrition problems, promote the wider application of proven best practices, and encourage additional work related to food access, education and research.



cleveland.com

Nutrition program for seniors; hundreds of hams distributed for Easter ...
cleveland.com
New nutrition program for Lorain County seniors: For several hundred low-income seniors living in southern Lorain County who aren't eating well, that's changing as of this week. Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio, which serves Lorain, has ...



Marketplace.org

Soylent aims for maximum nutrition with minimum effort
Marketplace.org
It might seem surprising (or not, depending on your personal taste) that a life lived on instant ramen could lead to a breakthrough in nutrition. But that's exactly what led Robert Rhinehart to want a food product that provided all of the nutrients of ...



Watchdog.org

Fargo culinary students get taste of USDA nutrition guidelines
Watchdog.org
“The student-run restaurant at Fargo Davies, and another one that is opening shortly at Fargo South, both have to comply with the new, stricter USDA nutrition rules that affect calorie counts, sodium content, etc. because they sell food to students ...

and more »


Minneapolis Star Tribune

Tribe's contribution is a nutrition boost for American Indians
Minneapolis Star Tribune
This week, the southern metro Mdewakanton Sioux Community, which operates two lucrative Minnesota casinos, announced that it is endowing a new national campaign “to improve Native American nutrition.'' A $5 million contribution from the tribe will ...

and more »


Huffington Post

A Nutrition Prescription for a Healthier America
Huffington Post
Good nutrition is an important protective factor against obesity and the preventable diseases associated with this condition. Proper nutrition is also essential for children's growth and development. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by eating right and ...
Nutrition scientist, registered dietitian urges Secretaries to reconsider ...Pork Magazine
NAMI Argues For Scientific Evidence As Foundation Of Nutrition PolicyPerishableNews (press release) (registration)
Dietary guidelines: what are they and why do they matter?Michigan State University Extension
KMAland
all 18 news articles »


Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

State officials promote good nutrition
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Meanwhile acting state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker announced that the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) has just increased the amount that participants will receive for buying fruits and vegetables.
National Nutrition Month at Rochester's Public MarketWXXI News

all 6 news articles »


Healthy Eats (blog)

Nutrition News: Diageo to List Nutrition Info, Paleo Diet Debated, Changes at ...
Healthy Eats (blog)
Alcoholic-beverage behemoth Diageo PLC — the global giant behind Johnnie Walker Scotch whiskey, Smirnoff vodka, Guinness and countless other products — says that, starting in a few months, it will begin including information about nutrition ...



The Sentinel

Elder Care: It's vital to maintain adequate nutrition
The Sentinel
As we close out March and National Nutrition Month, here are a few thoughts related to aging and nutrition, especially regarding vitamins, natural remedies, medications and memory-boosting products. There is a vast quantity of information available ...

and more »

Google News


Advertisement



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

Copyright 2006 Luminati Inc. All rights reserved.