Amino Acids: What They Are, What Is Its Importance and Where You Can Find Them

Amino acids are the basic constituents of all proteins and play vital functions in the body. Come and discover what in our article.

About Amino Acids

The amino acids are the basic building blocks of proteins, which are involved in thousands of biochemical reactions that are essential to the human body, including growth, repair and maintenance of tissues.

In simple form, are the basic units that are joined through peptide bonds, make up the peptides and proteins (multiple chains of amino acids linked together).

There are 20 amino acids different that combine in multiple ways, giving rise to many different proteins with diverse functions in the body.

DIFFERENT FUNCTIONS OF PROTEINS:

  • Plastic, for the building of new tissues;
  • Structural, as for example, collagen, elastin and keratin;
  • Transport, such as hemoglobin;
  • Cell signaling, such as messengers, intracellular;
  • Antibodies;
  • Enzymes;
  • Hormones, such as insulin.

AS THEY ARE MADE OF AMINO ACIDS?

In chemical terms, amino acids are organic molecules formed by atoms of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, some also contain sulfur in its composition.

All feature a group carboxyl (COOH), an amine (NH2), a hydrogen molecule (H) and a radical group, which are linked via a carbon atom central.

The radical group varies depending on the amino acid, that is, each of the 20 amino acids has its own radical which differentiates it from the remaining 19.

CLASSIFICATION NUTRITIONAL

Within the aminácidos, we can distinguish the essential and non-essential.

ESSENTIAL

The essential are those that the body cannot produce endogenously, or is, must be obtained through diet and/or supplementation.

There are 9: Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan and Valine.

NOT ESSENTIAL

By contrast, the non-essential are those that the body cannot produce internally, and is not, therefore, dependent on the intake of the same through diet or supplementation.

They are: Alanine, Asparagine, aspartic Acid, or Aspartate, Glutamic Acid, or Glutamate, and Serine.

SEMI-ESSENTIAL

There are also semi-essential, which are nonessential amino acids that become essential in specific stages of life, since they are required in larger quantities, that the body no longer can produce.

Are part of this group: Glutamine, Proline, Arginine, Glycine, Tyrosine and Cysteine.

BENEFITS OF AMINO ACIDS IN SPORTS

MUSCLE REPAIR AND GROWTH

As already mentioned, the amino acids are required for protein synthesis, including muscle proteins.

As such, play a crucial role in the growth and repair of muscle tissue.

INCREASE SPORTS PERFORMANCE

There are amino acids that promote increased levels of energy, in particular the creatine (composed by the junction between the glycine, arginine and methionine), promoting an improvement in yield, and a higher workout capacity.

In addition, there is also glutamine, that helps to remove the toxic byproducts of muscle metabolism and the tryptophan that promotes rest healthy and deep, diminishing also in the sense of maximizing sports performance and muscle recovery.

DECREASE OF THE MUSCLE DAMAGE AND FATIGUE INDUCED BY EXERCISE

In respect of this function, we note the BCAAs, also known as branched chain amino acids. They are leucine, isoleucine, and valine.

BCAAs are essential, and have the advantage of the fact that they are metabolized directly by the muscle, unlike the other essential amino acids that are catabolised mainly in the liver.

BCAAs have benefits:

  • Decrease the perception of effort (decrease the transport of tryptophan to the brain and, consequently, the synthesis of serotonin, a substance associated with the installation of fatigue.
  • Promoting muscle synthesis, especially by leucine.
  • Attenuate catabolism / muscle breakdown induced by intense training.

OTHER FUNCTIONS IN THE BODY

In addition to the benefits at the level muscular and sporty, the amino acids have several other biological roles important.

Are involved in the synthesis of enzymes, hormones, and neurotransmitters, in the transport of nutrients and oxygen on the production of immunoglobulins and antibodies in the regulation of the acidity levels of the body and can still be used as a source of energy, in the event of an exhaustion of reserves of glycogen.

WHAT FOODS PROVIDE AMINO ACIDS?

Amino acids are found in foods that provide protein, namely:

  • Meat;
  • Fish;
  • Eggs;
  • Legumes (such as beans and grain);
  • Milk and derived products;
  • Dried fruits and oleaginous;
  • Algae;
  • Whole grains (content reduced);

The animal proteins are considered of high biological value, because they contain all the essential amino acids.

The vegetable proteins have an amino acid limiting, not being, therefore, considered to be of high biological value (with the exception of soy).

As such, vegetarians need to resort to complementarity of proteins, that is, need to mix different protein food that complement each other, so get all the essential amino acids.

An example of this complementarity is the combination of rice and beans.

SUPPLEMENTATION

Certain amino acids, including the BCAAs, are widely used / consumed in the form of food supplements, mainly in the context of sports, in order to increase muscle mass and improve the performance.

However, as is the case for the majority of supplements, more research is needed to confirm the positive effects of supplementation on BCAA’s in reducing the perception of effort and in furtherance of the recovery after the workout.

IN SHORT…

Amino acids play a vital role in our health, exerting beneficial effects on several levels.

If on the one hand, the production of nonessential amino acids is ensured by the body, the obtaining of the various essential amino acids depends on a healthy and varied diet and, in some cases, supplementation.

 

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