What are amino acids and why are they important? When should you take amino acid supplements?
Amino acids are building blocks for proteins. All protein foods are made of amino acids. When we consume protein, we break it down into the aminos. We have to eat eight essential amino acids – we can’t make it in the body without these aminos.
Amino acids build protein structures, hormones, neurotransmitters, immune factors, bones, and joints. Our bodies are built from protein, minerals and fats. Taking free-form aminos means they’re pre-broken so are usually absorbed faster and can provide quick protein requirements for muscle rebuilding, for instance.
Some aminos can activate enzyme systems, like leucine activates protein synthesis. Other aminos build up tissues, like BCAAs (branched-chain aminos: leucine, isoleucine and valine). These can be good for elderly people who are weak or have problems with digestion. They may also be useful by athletes on a low energy intake.
Some amino acids like tyrosine can help with fatigue and environmental stress. If your diet includes enough protein you don’t need additional aminos unless you have a special need for less fatigue or greater build up of protein structures in a time-pressured situation.