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HomeHEALTH & WELLNESSEssential Amino Acids: What They Are And What They Are For

Essential Amino Acids: What They Are And What They Are For

A few years ago, many of us thought that proteins worked miracles: increasing muscles, losing weight, etc. Then we started talking about amino acids, and today, the consumption of powdered amino acids, including essential ones, has spread. What do we mean when we talk about amino acids? How many? How do we recognize the “right” ones for our needs, and where do we find them? Let’s see what science says.

Proteins And Amino Acids

Amino acids are the organic molecules that proteins are made of; they are like the bricks that make up a house. When we consume foods such as meat, fish, eggs, cheeses and legumes, we take in proteins, which are then digested or broken down into amino acids essential for living organisms.

  • Amino acids have structural, immune, transport, hormonal, enzymatic, contractile and energetic functions; in short, we couldn’t live without them.
  • All amino acids are helpful in the body, but some are called essential because our body is not able to synthesize them independently, so they must be ingested through food.

Essential Amino Acids

There are nine essential amino acids:

Isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine, histidine, the essential amino acids for the adult human being are eight because histidine acts on growth and is indispensable, therefore necessary, exclusively during the growth phase growth of children.

A complete protein, by definition, contains all essential amino acids. Complete proteins usually derive from foods of animal origin and are classified as proteins of high biological value, including those contained in Grana Padano DOP. Essential amino acids are also present in the incomplete proteins of foods of plant origin, but usually in smaller quantities than in animal ones, except for soy, which is therefore defined as proteins of medium or low biological value.

The human organism needs all amino acids, essential and non-essential; the optimal ratio between them requires a balance dependent on physiological needs that differs from individual to individual. Therefore, they must both be understood as necessary to guarantee optimal health and functions as they produce neurotransmitters, hormones, muscle growth and other cellular processes.

In case of inadequate intake of essential amino acids due to an unbalanced diet or gastrointestinal alterations (such as vomiting or lack of appetite), clinical symptoms may appear, which may include depression, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, and weakness. Prolonged and inadequate amino acid intake in children may be the cause of growth retardation.

Also Read: Nutrition To Increase Muscle Mass

Branched-Chain Amino Acids

Of the nine essential amino acids, three, namely, leucine, isoleucine, and valine, are classified as branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). The branched have essential functions for the organism; they are instrumental in sport, as they can provide immediate energy (as they are captured directly by the muscles without passing through the liver), repair muscle fibers damaged by physical activity, counteract the production of lactic acid, reduce mental fogginess from fatigue and feeling of hunger.

Numerous studies have reported that branched-chain amino acids, when associated with a low-calorie diet, can promote the reduction of fat mass and help strengthen muscles when related to adequate physical activity. In fact, proteins with high biological value are of great help in low-calorie diets to lose weight healthily, i.e. lose fat mass and maintain lean/muscle mass. Here, you can calculate your BMI and the amount of fat mass in your body.

Function Of Essential Amino Acids

Often, the promotion of essential amino acid supplements promises an increase in muscle mass, which in reality is achieved with an average protein intake derived from nutrition and lots of exercise. For people in good health, a correct and balanced diet, particularly omnivorous, guarantees the supply of all essential amino acids sufficient to ensure protein synthesis.

Only in particular cases and with a medical prescription may amino acid supplements be necessary. Here, you can download a diet for the calories you need to consume, which guarantees you the correct intake of nutrients, including the nine essential amino acids and benefits from their functions.


Indispensable during the growth and repair of tissues, the production of blood cells and the creation of the neurotransmitter histamine. Histidine may also help protect tissues from damage caused by radiation or heavy metals.


It is necessary to create hemoglobin (the protein responsible for transporting oxygen in the blood) and to regulate sugar (glycemia) levels in the blood.


It is necessary for the growth and repair of muscles, skin, and bones and to help prevent muscle deterioration (sarcopenia) as we age. Furthermore, it promotes the maintenance of lean mass and the increase in the feeling of satiety, two essential elements for those who follow a low-calorie diet to lose weight. Grana Padano DOP is particularly rich in them; here, you can download a meat-free diet that guarantees the daily requirement of all micro and macronutrients.


assists the body with making collagen, which is available in bones and connective tissues like skin and ligaments. Produces carnitine, which changes over unsaturated fats into energy, an interaction that likewise brings down cholesterol.


Fundamental for ordinary digestion and development, it helps the liver cycle fats. Methionine can likewise assist with diminishing cholesterol levels, forestalling kidney stones, decreasing harm brought about by weighty metals in the blood, neutralizing the poisonous impacts of acetaminophen, help with forestalling going bald, and fortifying nails.


There are three forms: L-, D- and DL-phenylalanine. It is used for a disorder that causes the development of white patches on the skin ( vitiligo) and to relieve the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ( ADHD ), chronic pain, and aging skin. Excessive consumption of phenylalanine can cause serious health problems. Supplements or food products containing phenylalanine should be taken with great caution and only under medical supervision.


It is involved in numerous metabolic functions: in the metabolism of creatine cobalamin (vit. B12 ) and in the production of some neurotransmitters ( adrenaline and choline). Food sources of threonine are mainly of animal origin. Therefore, it is one of the amino acids most easily missing in the vegan diet and causes vitamin deficiency. B12 is a vitamin present in excellent quantities in Grana Padano DOP.


It is the essential amino acid precursor of serotonin, the good mood hormone (well-being-happiness). They are rich in chocolate, peanuts, milk, and hard cheeses such as Grana Padano DOP, spirulina algae, and sesame seeds, but also almonds, peanuts, pine nuts, and beans.


carries out essential functions in the reconstruction of muscle tissue, and for this reason, foods that are rich in it are particularly suitable for athletes. Valine is found in foods of animal origin (meat and fish) and is concentrated in hard cheeses. For example, 100g of Grana Padano DOP cheese contains approximately 2.45g of valine, a quantity which is similar to that of 100g of fish (about 3g).

There are numerous amino acid supplements on the market, used (and even abused) in the fields of fitness and sport. In the countries of the European Union, there are no regulations regulating the consumption of essential amino acids for the intake of vitamins and minerals. The Ministry of Health recommends not using amino acid supplements during pregnancy and in children, or any case for prolonged periods, without consulting your doctor.

Also Read: How To Increase The Effects Of NAC?


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