Amino Acids

The skilled organic chemist will quickly recognize that this section is reduced to a simplified overview designed to offer a primary appreciation of why complete protein consumption is VITAL for human life and healthy longevity...

When protein is broken down by digestion, the result is what has been identified as 22 groups of proteogenic amino acids...

The 22 amino acids are termed proteogenic amino acids, because some 50,000 proteins, and over 15,000 known enzymes, in the human body are produced from various combinations of some or all of these 22 amino acids!!! ... All amino acids in the protein are linked by peptide bonds... The three-dimensional structure and function of a protein are dependent on the sequence of amino acid side chains in the polypeptide. Amino acid side chains can be divided into several different classes based on their physico-chemical properties and by their content/structure of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, and sulphur.

At least eight of the 22 proteogenic amino acids can NOT be manufactured by the human body (thus are termed as "essential")... The rest of the amino acids with proper nutrition and cellular functioning can be manufactured by the human body (thus termed "non-essential" for supplementation purposes)... The term "non-essential" is a misleading word... because ALL proteogenic AMINO ACIDS ARE ESSENTIAL to have life, health and longevity!!! ... Since it's a proven FACT that few human beings consume a daily intake of adequate complete proteins or enzymes... wisdom indicates the importance of paying close attention to the topic of amino acids and enzymes... By understanding the known functions of each amino acid and enzymes, might lead to discovery of which could be the missing component; the addition of which might eliminate undesirable conditions, and enhance desirable conditions.

It's not necessary to become a biochemist to accomplish this goal... A person can approach the subject of receiving adequate amino acids, by consuming adequate amounts of COMPLETE PROTEIN and multi-purposed DIGESTIVE ENZYMES ... Complete Protein Foods are so termed because they contain all 8 of the essential amino acids that can NOT be produced by the human body...These are: Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Valine ....Young children ALSO require additional methionine. Complete proteins are found in animal meat, eggs, and soy beans.

Amino Acids are the building blocks of the body. In addition to building cells and repairing tissue, they form antibodies to combat invading bacteria & viruses, are part of the enzyme and hormonal system, build nucleoproteins (RNA & DNA); carry oxygen through the body and are required for muscle activity. The 22 proteogenic amino acids are:

1. Alanine
2. Arginine
3. Asparagine
4. Aspartic acid
5. Cysteine
6. Cystine
7. Glutamine
8. Glutamic acid
9. Glycine
10. Histidine
11. Hydroxyproline
12. Isoleucine - Essential
13. Leucine - Essential
14. Lysine - Essential
15. Methionine - Essential
16. Phenylalanine - Essential
17. Proline
18. Serine
19. Threonine - Essential
20. Tryptophan - Essential
21. Tyrosine
22. Valine - Essential

As already stated... The human body builds over 50,000 known proteins and over 15,000 known enzymes from these amino acids... Enzymes are required for life... All enzymes, including digestive enzymes, are made from amino acids; often with vitamins acting as coenzymes, and sometimes with mineral activators. When protein is consumed, the body first breaks the protein down into individual amino acids before the cells can use them in specific metabolic pathways, or for building enzymes or body proteins.... BUT to breakdown protein requires FIRST having enough of the right kind of enzymes... The symbiotic relationship of all life energies begins to come into clear appreciation by understooding this "Which came first... the chicken or the egg?" dilemma of enzymes and amino acids...

In Dr. Atkins' Vita-Nutrient Solution, Dr. Robert C. Atkins, M.D. reports... "Without different combinations of amino acids, hair would be indistinguishable from the heart, among other unseemly possibilities. Just as letters of the alphabet form every word in the dictionary, these chemicals congregate in an endless array of ways to form protein molecules that influence and define the body's every cell."

The body needs amino acids in order to get amino acids from the food consumed, thus lack of free amino acids can be followed by an inability to produce the digestive enzymes necessary to break down protein into it's component amino acids. This fact can lead to a cycle of poor nutrition, even when plenty of food is consumed... Since amino acids play a key role in normalizing moods, attention, concentration, aggression, sex drive, and sleep; these are some factors to monitor in checking for whether or not the body is receiving adequate free amino acid.

There are many types of amino acid supplements on the market thus the buyer must be very careful. Some "free form" amino acid products are reduced from a protein source (often milk) and might only have small amounts of free form aminos added to them. This represents a misleading but inexpensive source, as the person often thinks a blend of individual free form amino acids is being bought. Frequently, people have allergies to the source protein used.

Many nutritionalist prefer a complete blend of free form amino acids, as a necessary starting point; adding other nutrients or individual amino acids as needed. When taking amino acid supplements an adequate supply of vitamins and minerals must ALSO be available, especially Vitamin C. It's suggested that a well-informed physician or nutritionist be consulted before beginning amino acid supplementation.

Supplement labels and literature, commonly present amino acids with "L-" or "D-" preceding them.... These that in nature there are two basic types of chemicals in nature: a "L" form and a "D" form. The "form" is seen when light is sent through the amino that has been placed in a solution.... Light will refract either to the left or right. The "L" form denotes a left-sided molecule. The "D" denotes a right-sided molecule. Most organic molecules are left-sided."

Overview of Amino Acids

1... ALANINE (Non-Essential Amino Acid) - Is an important source of energy for muscle tissue, the brain and central nervous system; strengthens the immune system by producing antibodies; helps in the metabolism of sugars and organic acids.

2... ARGININE (Non-Essential Amino Acid) - Studies have shown that is has improved immune responses to bacteria, viruses & tumor cells; promotes wound healing and regeneration of the liver; causes the release of growth hormones; considered crucial for optimal muscle growth and tissue repair; helps arthritis sufferers by stimulating the growth of new bone and tendon cells. It appears that ingestion of arginine increases human growth harmone (HGH), which in turn accelerates the formation of new bone and tendon. When healthy males were given a single dose of arginine, reported Dr. A. Isidori in Current Medical Research and Opinion, a definite increase in HGH was noted in all subjects, often occurring as rapidly as within 30 minutes of the intake of the amino acid."

3... ASPARAGINE (Non-Essential Amino Acid) - On intracellular function Asparagine, Glutamine and Serine are vital for energy and smooth function of brain reactions, contribute to the formation of proteins, muscles, neurotransmitters, antibodies and receptors; important transporters of nitrogen; foundation of carbohydrate metabolism; improve recovery after surgery or trauma by hastening wound... Aspartic acid 252 and asparagine 185 are essential for activity of lipid N-acetylglucosaminylphosphate transferase.

4... ASPARTIC ACID (Non-Essential Amino Acid) - Aids in the expulsion of harmful ammonia from the body. When ammonia enters the circulatory system it acts as a highly toxic substance which can be harmful to the central nervous system. Recent studies have shown that Aspartic Acid may increase resistance to fatigue and increase endurance.

5... CYSTEINE (Non-Essential) "In addition to protection the cells from the harmful effects of radiation, [L-Cysteine] protects the live and brain from damage due to alcohol and cigarette smoke." (PFNH pg. 28)

6... CYSTINE (Non-Essential Amino Acid) Functions as an antioxidant and is a powerful aid to the body in protecting against radiation and pollution. It can help slow down the aging process, deactivate free radicals, neutralize toxins; aids in protein synthesis and presents cellular change. It is necessary for the formation of the skin, which aids in the recovery from burns and surgical operations. Hair and skin are made up 10-14% Cystine.

7... GLUTAMINE (Non-Essential Amino Acid) - The brain requires a constant supply of energy to think and be alert, Glutamine provides the fuel the brain cells need to think clearly and help combat fatigue... In a paper entitled "Fourteen Doctors Confirm L-Glutamine Improves I.Q.;" Dr. Righard Passwater explains that the brain actually need two types of "fuel". Until recently, doctors knew of only one type, glucose; but recent studies have proven that another compound exsists and nourishes the brain. That compound is L-glutamine."

8... GLUTAMIC ACID (Non-Essential Amino Acid) - Considered to be nature's "Brain food" by improving mental capacities; helps speed the healing of ulcers; support your digestive track; gives a "lift" from fatigue; helps control alcoholism, schizophrenia and the craving for sugar.

9... GLYCINE (Non-Essential Amino Acid) - Helps trigger the release of oxygen to the energy requiring cell-making process; Important in the manufacturing of hormones responsible for a strong immune system.

10... HISTIDINE (Non-Essential Amino Acid) - Is found abundantly in hemoglobin; has been used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, allergic diseases, ulcers & anemia. A deficiency can cause poor hearing.

11... HYDROXYPROLINE (Non-Essential Amino Acid) - Plays a major role in manufacture of collagen, connective tissue, skin, ligaments, tendons, bones, cartilage and is necessary in Vitamin D assimilation. Vitamin D is essential in proper calcium absorption. Hydoxyproline has been brought to public attention by "Calorad" advertising "weight loss while you sleep" from an increase in lean muscle tissues and a decrease in adipose tissue (fat). Their " simple and unique delivery system provides a fuel at the body's prime time for healing and repair, the first ninety minutes of sleep." ... BUT claims for taking supplemental forms of Hydoxyproline are not substantiated by studies such as those by Haydock DA. Hill GL. Journal of Parenteral & Enteral Nutrition. 10(6):550-4, 1986 Nov-Dec which studies the relationship between nutritional state and wound healing was examined in 66 adult surgical patients. Wound-healing response was assessed by measuring the collagen content (hydroxyproline) which revealed a normal protein intake will facilitate the proper growth and formation of collagen.... And that increased intake of hydroxyproline will NOT increase the rate of wound healing or collagen formation beyond a set limit. As long as protein intake is well above starvation levels, there's no reason to supplement diet with hydroxyproline.

12... ISOLEUCINE (Essential Amino Acid) stimulates the brain to produce alertness.

You might appreciate knowing that isoleucine is why mosquites bite, as revealed in the following article from the Lansing State Journal, June 11, 1997...

"Why Do Mosquitoes Bite People?

Actually, only the female mosquitoes bite people. They are searching for isoleucine. Isoleucine is one of the basic building blocks of life called an amino acid. Amino acids are what make up proteins, and female mosquitoes need these proteins to make eggs. If they find isoleucine then they may lay as many as 100 eggs. But if they do not find isoleucine then they may only lay at most ten eggs.

So how do the mosquitoes find isoleucine? Isoleucine is part of our blood. The female mosquito punctures our skin with a part of her mouth known as her feeding stylets. Then she searches for blood vessels within our skin. A female mosquito usually finds a blood vessel in less than a minute. Next she sucks our blood through one mouthpiece. She can swallow up to four times her weight in blood, and when she is full she looks like a tiny red light bulb. She can do this because while she is sucking our blood, she is also injecting us with her saliva. There are special chemicals in her saliva which keep our blood from clotting.

Actually, human blood is not the best source for isoleucine. Blood from buffaloes and rats contains more isoleucine, but since people outnumber rats and buffaloes in many places the mosquitoes bite us instead."

13... LEUCINE (Essential Amino Acid) - Leucine stimulates protein synthesis and itís importance in protein storage. Both Isoleucine and Leucine provide ingredients for the manufacturing of other essential biochemical components in the body, some of which are utilized for the production of energy, stimulants to the upper brain and helping you to be more alert. - - Supplement suggestions from Nature's Sunshine: l-Leucine* promotes the healing of bones, skin and muscles. It must be used in combination with I-Valine and I-Isoleucine.

14... LYSINE (Essential Amino Acid) - Lysine is found in the muscle tissue. Soybeans are high in lysine, but rare in other vegetables. Lysine insures the adequate absorption of calcium; helps form collagen ( which makes up bone cartilage & connective tissues); aids in the production of antibodies, hormones & enzymes. A deficiency may result in tiredness, inability to concentrate, irritability, bloodshot eyes, retarded growth, hair loss, anemia & reproductive problems.

Recent studies show Lysine to be effective against herpes by improving the balance of nutrients that reduce viral growth. It estimated that as much as 70 percent of the world's population is afflicted with herpes simplex virus that causes painful lesions, especially in the oral and genital areas. Thus claims of a non-toxic, inexpensive substance such as lysine is an effective preventive are welcome.

Researchers hypothesized that the amino acid arginine promotes herpes and lysine inhibits it. Herpes sufferers are often advised to: Avoid arginine rich foods such as chocolate,peanuts, cashews, barley, peas, soft drinks and beer. Consume lysine-rich foods such as dairy products, potatoes and brewers yeast; plus take lysine supplements (1 gram daily during active outbreak).

There are claims that lysine, combined with arginine, helps build muscle mass. This claim is based on a study to see if this combination could induce secretion of biologically active amounts of GH... In that the study demonstrated significant human-growth-hormone (GH) releasing effect with an oral daily dose of 1,200 milligrams of lysine combined with 1,200 milligrams of arginine, taken on an empty stomach, has resulted in its use by muscle builders.

15... METHIONINE (Essential Amino Acid) - Methionine performs the major roles of being a methyl donor, sulfur donor, and helps lower cholesterol. Methionine is a natural chelating agent for heavy metals; is a principle supplier of sulfur which prevents disorders of the hair, skin and nails; influences hair follicles and promotes hair growth; increases the liver's production of lecithin thus helps reduce cholesterol and liver fat; regulates the formation of ammonia and creates ammonia-free urine which reduces bladder irritation and promotes kidney health.

16... PHENYLALAINE (Essential Amino Acid) - Phenylanine which is highly concentrated in protein foods is understood to perform as a pain reliever. Phenylanine is used by the brain to produce Norepinephrine, a chemical that transmits signals between nerve cells and the brain; keeps maintain alertness; reduces hunger; acts as an antidepressant and helps improve memory. - DL-Phenylalanine (DLPA), is a natural amino acid found in many foods. It's a powerful, nonaddictive analgesic. Dr. Earl L. Mindell, author of the Vitamin Bible reports: "DLPA is as or more effective in reliving pain as morphine or other opiates. When you are injured or experiencing disease, your body naturally produces morphine or other 0piates. When you are injured or experiencing disease, your body naturally produces morphine-like chemicals called endorphins. At the same time however, certain enzymes are programmed to destroy the endorphins. DLPA works by inhibiting the enzymes, thus allowing the endorphins to continue their pain relief activities."

17... PROLINE (Non-Essential Amino Acid) - Essential for proper functioning of joints and tendons; helps maintain and strengthen heart muscles.

18... SERINE (Non-Essential Amino Acid) - A storage source of glucose by the liver and muscles; helps strengthen the immune system by providing antibodies; synthesizes fatty acid sheath around nerve fibers.

19... THREONINE (Essential Amino Acid) - Threonine is the least abundant amino acid, but essential in preventing fat build-up in the liver and assisting digestive and intestinal tracts function more smoothly; assists metabolism and assimilation. Threonine is an important constituent of collagen, Elastin, and enamel protein.

20... TRYPTOPHAN (Essential Amino Acid) - Tryptophan is a natural relaxant, helps alleviate insomnia by inducing normal sleep; reduces anxiety & depression; helps in the treatment of migraine headaches; helps the immune system controling certain intractable pain; helps reduce the risk of artery & heart spasms; works with Lysine in reducing cholesterol levels.

21... TYROSINE (Non-Essential Amino Acid) - Transmits nerve impulses to the brain; helps overcome depression; Improves memory; increases mental alertness; promotes the healthy functioning of the thyroid, adrenal and pituitary glands.... Tyrosine is synthesized in the body from phenylalanine. Like phenylalanine, tyrosine is intimately involved with the important brain neurotransmitters epinephine, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Animals subjected to stress in the laboratory have been found to have reduced levels of norepinephrine. Treating with tyrosine prior to stressing the animals prevents reduction of this neurotransmitter. Findings such as these led to human tyrosine experiments in which soldiers undergoing various forms of stress were given tyrosine to see what effect it might have on their performance. In one of these experiments, conditions were created that simulated a rapid ascent to 15,500 feet. This dramatically stresses the mind and body and significantly diminishes the oxygen supply to the brain. Some of those soldiers were given tyrosine supplements prior to this challenge and some were not. Those who got the tyrosine performed much better on a variety of tests than those who did not get the supplements. The tyrosine-dosed were more alert, efficient, less anxious and had fewer complanits about the physical discomforts during the trial. There is also growing clinical evidence that suggest tyrosine may be an effective anti-depressant and even useful in some major forms of depression. (Vitawise)

22... VALINE (Essential Amino Acid) - Valine promotes mental vigor, muscle coordination and calms emotions.


  1. website... Ask Tom O'Brien
  2. website... Chemical PATHWAY Structures
  3. website... amino acid side-chains pack against one another within 20 of the known protein structures
  4. website...
  5. Dr. Atkins' Vita-Nutrient Solution - Dr. Robert C. Atkins, M.D.
  6. The Healing Nutrients Within Facts, Finding and New Research on Amino Acids - Eric R. Braverman, M.D.
  7. The Latest Advances in Sports Nutrition - Tara Watkins - Vitamin Retailer, November 1995, p. 42-49.
  8. Perscription for Nutritional Healing - James F. Balch, -M.D. and Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C - 1990 - Garden City Park, New Jersey: Avery Publishing
  9. The Doctor's Vitamin and Mineral Encyclopedia - Simon Saul Hendler, M.D., Ph.D. (New York, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990).

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