Amino Acids


Amino acids are often referred to as the ‘building blocks’ of protein because they are the compounds used by the body to form proteins. Proteins are required by the human body for repair, maintenance and growth of tissue where they perform structural roles. They are also important for enzymes, hormones and neurotransmitters (brain chemicals).

Amino acids fall under two classifications; ‘essential’ and ‘non-essential’. Essential amino acids cannot be made by the body and must be supplied by foods including meat, fish, dairy, eggs, nuts, pulses/beans and grains. Non-essential amino acids can be made in the body from other amino acids.

  • 5-HTP – strictly speaking this is not an amino acid. It is an intermediate in the conversion of the amino acid tryptophan to serotonin (a so-called brain chemical)
  • Glutamine is a conditionally essential amino acid – this means it is non-essential but can become essential under certain conditions i.e. when the body’s capacity to synthesise it is exceeded. For example, burns, wounds and severe illness
  • L-lysine is an essential amino acid, so must be supplied in the diet; the body is unable to synthesise it
  • Taurine is a free amino acid, this means it is not incorporated into proteins. It is abundant in many tissues in the body including the heart, eyes, nerve cells and skeletal muscle
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