You know that you need oxygen and water to live, but do you know the same holds true for amino acids? They’re integral to life and play a role in just about every function our bodies need to survive. Digestion, muscle building, energy and hormone production, healthy skin and even a sense of happiness—you can’t have any of these things, and much more, without amino acids.
But what are amino acids exactly? They are organic compounds made from four components: nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Almost all amino acids also have a side chain composed of different biochemical elements. These side chains make the amino acids unique and link them together to perform different functions.
Amino acids are often referred to as the building blocks of protein. After protein enters your body, it breaks down into amino acids that get to work fulfilling their prescribed roles in the body. The 20 amino acids are grouped into three categories, depending on how the body accesses them. Those categories are essential, nonessential and conditional. Some amino acids are produced in the body, while others are only found in food. A lack of amino acids may call for supplementation or IV therapy, so your body has what it needs not just to survive but to thrive.
These amino acids can only be consumed from food—the body doesn’t make them on its own. Amino acids are available in a wide variety of both plant- and animal-based foods, so it’s easy to get what you need if you follow a nutritious, balanced eating plan. There are nine essential amino acids:
Like essential amino acids, nonessential amino acids can be found in certain foods. Unlike the essential group, however, nonessential amino acids can also be produced in the body. Despite what this category’s name implies, you do need nonessential amino acids to carry out functions throughout your body and maintain good health. The amino acids in this group include:
This final category includes nonessential amino acids that the body only needs at certain times. Typically, the body will produce conditional amino acids during illnesses or in stressful situations. The conditional amino acids are the following:
Name a chemical process in the human body, and amino acids probably play a role in it. Repairing and growing tissues? Check. Facilitating communication in the brain through neurotransmitter production? Check. Promoting lustrous hair and strong nails? Check.
As you can tell, amino acids are good for many things. But each amino acid specializes in certain tasks. Here are some of the roles each one plays in maintaining your overall health:
Histidine is needed for histamine production. This substance is essential for proper functioning immune, digestive and reproductive systems. Histidine also plays a role in blood cell development, healthy sleep/wake cycles, tissue and nerve cell maintenance and growth.
Want to feel strong and vigorous? Get plenty of isoleucine. It contributes to muscle growth and function, energy generation, immunity support and the production of hemoglobin, ensuring your tissues are nourished by the blood in your oxygen.
This amino acid has a diverse portfolio of uses. You need it to help moderate blood sugar levels, synthesize proteins, repair muscles, heal wounds and produce growth hormones.
Build strong bones and skin with lysine. This amino acid functions to make it easier for your body to absorb calcium, and it also produces collagen and elastin, two major proteins necessary for skin health. Lysine also maintains energy levels and the immune system. Plus, it helps keep levels of the stress hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine at a healthy balance.
This amino acid often plays a role in weight loss because it assists with detoxification and metabolism regulation. Methionine can also help with tissue growth and mineral absorption, particularly selenium and zinc.
Your brain uses neurotransmitters in its cellular communication network. This amino acid encourages neurotransmitter production (such as tyrosine and dopamine). Phenylalanine also helps the body synthesize nonessential amino acids.
Like lysine, threonine encourages collagen and elastin production. It also factors into fat metabolism and immunity building.
Tryptophan helps regulate the circadian rhythms that help you sleep at night. Tryptophan also helps you feel good because it contributes to the production of the mood-boosting hormone serotonin.
Feel empowered with valine. You’ll experience enhanced energy, muscle function and overall growth when you get an adequate supply of this amino acid.
This amino acid is needed for healthy liver function.
This amino acid benefits your heart health. Arginine releases nitric acid in your body, which dilates vessels so blood can flow more freely.
Asparagine supports your vascular health. You need it to make another nonessential amino acid, glutamine, which builds healthy blood vessels. Asparagine also helps the body create muscle tissues and enzymes.
Your cells rely on aspartic acid to carry out their normal functions. This amino acid also regulates the nervous system and hormone production.
Cysteine is another amino acid you need for healthy skin, hair and nails because it helps produce collagen. It also benefits the skin because it has antioxidant power, which reduces oxidative stress on cells caused by free radical damage.
This is synthesized into glutamate, which facilitates communication between nerve cells in the brain.
In addition to building blood vessels, glutamine also supports immune and intestinal health.
Glycine is the gift that keeps on giving. It helps create the antioxidant glutathione, which fights free radical damage and disease. It also supports strong muscles with the production of creatine and promotes vibrant skin with its capability to make collagen, among other functions.
This amino acid plays a role in cellular function, collagen production, metabolism regulation and more.
Serine contributes to healthy sleep patterns and a well-functioning brain and central nervous system. Research indicates serine has the potential to help manage cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
This amino acid plays a major part in the production of adrenaline and thyroid hormones, the “feel good” chemical dopamine and the melanin pigments that give your skin, eyes and hair their color.
There are many important purposes of amino acids, so it’s crucial to get enough of them. The good news is that it’s typically easy to get adequate amounts of the essential amino acids if you regularly eat a healthy diet. However, deficiencies, while uncommon, can occur as a result of poor eating habits or medical conditions that interrupt amino acid absorption in the body. Signs of a deficiency include thinning hair, skin sores, edemas and loss of muscle mass.
There are three main ways to get amino acids: in food, supplements or IV therapy.
Pros: Essential amino acids are found in a wide variety of foods: meat, dairy, quinoa, salmon, leafy green vegetables, legumes and potatoes, to name a few.
Cons: It can be hard to change unhealthy eating habits, and busy people may find it difficult to plan, shop for and prepare nutritious meals.
Pros: Supplements are a convenient way for people to get the amino acids they can’t consume in their diet. There are several different kinds of supplements to choose from, such as protein powders or pills, and they can be relatively affordable.
Cons: Oral supplements lose some of their potency because they have to pass through the digestive system. Medications or health issues also may prevent effective absorption. And you’ll have to do some homework to make sure you purchase a supplement of high quality.
Pros: Compared to oral supplements, IV therapy delivers amino acids right to the bloodstream. That means they’re rapidly absorbed into the body for potent, immediate effect. Mobile service provides treatment at your home or office for extra comfort.
Cons: It takes longer (about 30 to 45 minutes) to get IV treatment than to consume an oral supplement. IV treatment is also the most expensive option, and there is a slight chance of infection where the IV is inserted into your skin.
Now that you know why amino acids are important, contact us to see how you can benefit from IV treatment. We provide mobile IV therapy throughout Colorado with an array of budget-friendly packages. Our experienced medical professionals can help you customize IV therapy to meet your individual health goals.