Before taking amino acid supplements for therapeutic benefits, one must check with a health professional to see which proteins are necessary for proper functioning of your body. The following article talks about the benefits and side effects of these supplements.
There are basically two types of amino acids – essential and non-essential. The former are called ‘essential’ because they are not produced within the body, and have to be obtained from food sources. The latter are produced by our body, and hence named as ‘non-essential’. Both types of amino acids have their specific functions, and are the building blocks of protein. They are utilized by every cell in the body for a variety of crucial functions. In case of deficiency of amino acids or for therapeutic benefits, amino acid supplements are recommended.
Supplements That Provide Amino Acids
There are twenty amino acids which can be combined in various combinations to make the protein required by the body. Essential amino acids include histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine which are also known as branched-chain amino acids (BCAA). Supplements that contain essential amino acids may include any one of the above amino acids, or a combination of two or more of them. Animal products like meat, eggs, cheese, and milk are also excellent natural sources of amino acids.
Amino acids help repair muscles, organs, nails, hair, skin, ligaments, and glands. They are utilized by every cell in the body for a variety of crucial functions. Proteins, the body’s building blocks, are composed of various amino acids, and play an important role in the body’s metabolism. Proteins are required to make enzymes, membranes, mucus, hormones, etc. The following table describes various amino acids, and the benefits offered by them.
|Amino Acids||Useful For|
|DLPA, Glutamine, Tyrosine||Alcohol withdrawal|
|Acetyl-L-carnitine, Tyrosine||Alzheimer’s disease|
|Arginine, Carnitine||Angina, Infertility (male)|
|Soy||Cancer risk reduction, Hormone replacement therapy, Menopause|
|Carnitine||Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, High triglycerides, Intermittent claudication|
|Cysteine, N-acetyl cysteine||Chemotherapy support, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Emphysema, Bronchitis|
|Alanine, Glutamic acid, Glycine||Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia|
|Taurine||Epilepsy, High blood pressure|
|Arginine, Carnitine, Taurine||Congestive Heart Failure|
|DLPA, L-phenylalanine, tyrosine||Depression|
|Carnitine, Soy||High Cholesterol|
|Cysteine, Glutamine, N-acetyl cysteine||HIV support|
|Glutamine||Peptic ulcer, Ulcerative colitis|
|Methionine, Taurine||Liver support|
|L-phenylalanine||Parkinson’s disease, Vitiligo|
|BCAAs, Creatine||Postsurgery recovery|
|DLPA, Histidine||Rheumatoid Arthritis|
|Ornithine, Ornithine alpha-ketoglutarate||Wound healing|
|BCAA, Carnitine, Creatine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Ornithine, Ornithine alpha-ketoglutarate, Valine, Whey protein||Athletic support|
» For Adults
Amino acids make the cells healthy and strong, and thus help in energy formation and weight loss. They give you a greater ability to lose body fat. Arginine amino acid present in L-Arginine has the potential to burn fat. The supplements are especially popular among athletes and body builders, since they enjoy increased muscle mass and improved performance. For instance, a supplement, containing a mixture of the BCAA, arginine, and glutamine, can help quicker recovery from muscle fatigue that follows eccentric exercise training. The oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood is increased, and chances of muscle damage are decreased by regular consumption of these supplements. An improvement in training efficiency, along with positive effects on muscle integrity and hematopoiesis can be observed, when amino acid supplements are taken by athletes.
» For Children
Children with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) can be benefited by amino acid supplementation. These children exhibit neurotransmitter deficiencies in the brain, which play an important role in their behavior, memories, and learning abilities. Amino acids can make up for neurotransmitters, and are capable of encouraging proper functioning of neurotransmitters, correcting certain chemical imbalances in the brain. Deficiency of these nutrients in children can result into concentration problems, lack of focus, and insomnia. Sudden ‘unpredictable changes’ in behavior can be curbed with amino acids consumption. L-Arginine can trigger the production of human growth hormone (HGH) in pituitary gland which can improve the chances of growing tall.
» Most amino acid supplements are harmless but some supplements can cause restlessness, anxiety and rapid heartbeat at higher doses.
» For example, overdose of Tyrosine can cause restlessness and anxiety.
» It should be noted that intake of too many amino acids increases the load on the kidneys.
» Similarly, unbalanced mixtures of the acids or excessive intake of a single amino acid can be equally harmful.
» These supplements, when used as a part of a ‘high protein low fat’ diet can lead to abnormal heart rhythms.
» Those who are interested in taking these supplements should remember that vitamin B6 and vitamin C are needed for amino acid metabolism as these vitamins promote the absorption of amino acids. You are supposed to consume these vitamins with your supplements.
» You should prefer L-forms of these acids as they are more acceptable to the body. Check that the supplement contains right proportions of amino acids.
It is recommended to take single amino acid supplement on an empty stomach, as it promotes proper absorption. One should remember that amino acids work best when all of essential and non-essential ones are provided to the body. Scarcity of these nutrients can affect the digestive health, cardiovascular health, and neurological balance of an individual. The deficiency can result in arthritis, and affect cognitive functions. However, you should consult your doctor before consuming any nutritional supplements. You are expected to follow the instructions religiously, and stick to the recommended dosage to avoid possible side effects.
Disclaimer: This NutriNeat article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.