Amino Acids

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All about amino acids

Which amino acids are there?

Proteinogenic amino acids

There are about 20 different so-called proteinogenic amino acids that can be taken in with food. In nature, amino acids exist in a D and an L form, in proteinogenic amino acids only the L form is present. Amino acids in D-form are the non-proteinogenic cell building blocks, they are amino acids that do not occur in proteins.

Essential amino acids

a) Essential amino acids

  • L-Leucine
  • L-Isoleucine
  • L-Valine
  • L-Methionine
  • L-Tryptophan
  • L-Threonine
  • L-Lysine
  • L-Phenylalanine

Amino acids are divided into essential, semi-essential and non-essential amino acids. Eight amino acids are considered essential for adults; these are essential amino acids. They cannot be produced by the body and are therefore absorbed through food. The following essential amino acids exist:

L-Leucine

Together with L-isoleucine and L-valine, L-leucine forms the group of branched-chain amino acids (see section b). As a component of certain proteins, leucine appears to be involved in the formation of tissue structures.

L-Isoleucine

Isoleucine is a component of proteins that play a role in the metabolism in muscle tissue.

L-Valine

Diese Aminosäure ist in nahezu jedem Protein im menschlichen Körper enthalten. Proteine tragen zur Energiebereitstellung des Körpers bei und sind an der Regulierung des Blutzuckerspiegels beteiligt.

L-Methionine

This amino acid is contained in almost every protein in the human body. Proteins contribute to the energy supply of the body and are involved in the regulation of the blood sugar level.

L-Tryptophan

Tryptophan is on the one hand a component of the musculature, on the other hand it is contained in different enzymes. The amino acid forms the precursor of vitamin B3, it is called provitamin in this context and is involved in important metabolic processes. L-tryptophan is converted in the body with the involvement of various enzymes into serotonin, which is a tissue hormone and neurotransmitter and can influence the regulation of blood pressure in the cardiovascular system. In addition, serotonin fulfils various functions as a messenger substance in the brain and is the starting material for melatonin, another important hormone that is said to regulate the sleep-wake cycle.

L-Threonine

A permanent lack of the amino acid threonine can lead to fatigue and listlessness. Threonine is a central component of proteins - for example in the collagen of connective tissue - and supports the body in building bones and can contribute to the formation of antibodies. A sufficient supply of magnesium, vitamin B3 and vitamin B6 can increase the effectiveness of threonine.

L-Lysine

The amino acid L-lysine is an important building block in various proteins, including enzymes, proteins in blood plasma for transporting substances, hormones and antibodies, and structural proteins in bones and skin. A sufficient intake of lysine can have a positive effect on the formation of collagen, which is formed together with the amino acids glycine and proline. Collagen is an essential component of bones, teeth, skin and tendons.

L-Phenylalanine

Physical and mental stress leads to an increased release of substances whose starting material is phenylalanine. In the human body, the amino acid tyrosine is synthesized in the liver from phenylalanine, which is needed, among other things, to produce various hormones, such as adrenaline.

b) Branched-chain amino acids

  • L-Leucine
  • L-Isoleucine
  • L-Valine

L-leucine, L-isoleucine and L-valine are called branched-chain amino acids. They are also known by the acronym BCAA (Branched Chain Amino Acids). When energy is scarce, the body is able to synthesize the BCAA into glutamine and beta-alanine, and these in turn into glucose. A sufficient supply of the three amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine gives the body the opportunity to promote the build-up of protein. In addition, the rapid absorption of all amino acids in the muscles and liver is promoted. However, this has not been scientifically proven.

Semi-essential amino acids

  • Arginine
  • Tyrosine
  • Cysteine
  • Histidine

The semi-essential amino acids are conditionally vital (essential) amino acids. They can be formed from other amino acids in the body. Cysteine can be partially formed from the essential amino acid methionine, tyrosine can be formed from the essential amino acid phenylalanine.

In certain phases of life, for example in infancy, in the growth phase, during pregnancy, injuries or even during competitive sports, these amino acids cannot be produced, or only insufficiently. Under these conditions, semi-essential amino acids, like essential amino acids, can be taken in via the diet.

Non-essential amino acids

With an intact metabolism, the human body can produce about 12 amino acids itself. These are therefore described as non-essential:

  • L-Arginine
  • L-Cysteine
  • L-Histidine
  • L-Tyrosine
  • L-Alanine
  • L-Asparagine
  • Aspartic acid
  • Glutamic acid
  • L-Glutamine
  • Glycine
  • Proline
  • Serin

L-Alanine

The human body is able to form alanine from other amino acids or from pyruvate, the end product of glucose breakdown. If sufficient glucose reserves are no longer available, alanine is converted into sugar, thereby providing the body with energy.

L-Asparagine

L-asparagine is a proteinogenic amino acid. In the body, asparagine functions as a source of chemical messengers, and asparagine is also involved in the transport of nitrogen, which is required for various biochemical reactions.

L-Arginine

The human body can produce arginine itself, but especially in small children and during pregnancy or the growth phase, the supply of this amino acid is not sufficient. Compared to other proteinogenic amino acids, arginine contains the highest amount of nitrogen with four nitrogen groups. Arginine is involved in the formation of nitrogen molecules.

L-Cysteine

This amino acid is primarily found in hair and nails. As a component of structural proteins, cysteine is also found in connective tissue and bones.

L-Histidine

Especially for children, an additional intake of this amino acid with the diet is necessary. Histidine it is involved in various metabolic processes and in the formation of iron-containing storage proteins.

L-Tyrosine

Tyrosine is a component of almost all proteins as well as the basic substance of various hormones. It is also a precursor of neurotransmitters, which act as chemical messengers for the transmission of electrical impulses between nerve cells.

Aspartic acid

Aspartic acid is one of the most frequently occurring messenger substances in the brain. It is a component of the immune system and is said to be involved in the formation of RNA/DNA or to be one of the starting substances.

Glutamic acid

Glutamic acid is found in proteins and is present in muscle tissue. It is a messenger substance; these substances are involved in the transport of nitrogen in the organism, among other things.

L-Glutamine

This amino acid is often found in the human organism unbound. Especially in muscle cells free glutamine is present. Glutamine is involved in protein synthesis and is required above all by tissues with a high cell division rate.

Glycine

Glycine can be produced in various ways, including from the amino acid serine. Glycine is the most abundant amino acid in collagen.

Proline

Proline is an important component of the connective tissue and an important building block of collagen.

Serine

Serine, as phosphatidyl serine, belongs to the starting material of many cell membranes, especially in the brain it is present in increased concentration. A deficiency of this amino acid becomes noticeable through concentration disorders and inattention.

Non-proteinogenic amino acids

In addition to the 20 proteinogenic amino acids, a large number of other amino acids are found in nature. These are called non-proteinogenic amino acids, they are usually not components of proteins. More than 250 non-proteinogenic amino acids are known to date. Some fulfil important biological tasks, but in many cases their exact function is not yet known. Some known non-proteinogenic amino acids are listed below:

GABA

Gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA) is one of the most important messenger substances (neurotransmitters) of the central nervous system.

Beta Alanine

By combining beta-alanine with the amino acid histidine, the formation of carnosine is possible. In this respect a sufficient supply of beta-alanine contributes to a higher level of carnosine, which in turn can counteract the lowering of the pH-value and thus the acidification of the muscles.

Theanine

This amino acid is found in the leaves of green and black tea. Theanine is a building block for protein, the amino acid is produced from glutamic acid and ethylamine. In addition to a calming effect, theanine is said to promote the ability to concentrate. However, these attributed effects have not been scientifically clearly recognized.

L-Carnitine

This is a so-called vitaminoid, an active substance similar to vitamins. L-carnitine is formed by the supply of the two essential amino acids methionine and lysine as a common protein compound. There are two different forms of L-carnitine - L-carnitine, which performs important functions in the body, and D-carnitine, a substance with a similar structure to L-carnitine, which is harmful to health.

L-Taurine

Taurine is not an amino acid in the narrower sense, but a metabolic product of the two amino acids methionine and cysteine. The highest concentration of taurine is found in the retina of the eyes, in the blood platelets and in the central nervous system.

Purposes in sport

Use and purpose of EAA's in sport

Since the glucose storage capacity of the muscle cells is gradually depleted during intensive physical exercise, they must be replenished gradually. More glucose for the muscle cells means less glucose for the fat cells. Athletes have an increased need for essential amino acids (EAAs), especially after intensive training phases, as these are involved in the formation of proteins and thus in anabolic (muscle building) processes. In order for these building processes to be possible, the essential amino acids must be available in sufficient quantities. If this is not the case, the organism takes the required amount of EAAs from its own body substance, i.e. from the muscles.

It is possible to take EAAs in isolation or together with a protein shake, although in this case it is generally recommended to do so shortly before, during or after a sporting activity. Dosage forms such as powder (with or without flavour) and capsules are suitable for this purpose.

The EAAs available from PEAK in TST form contain the eight essential amino acids, supplemented by the amino acids histidine and cystine recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). Vitamins are also added that can help reduce fatigue and tiredness.


Benefits and use of BCAA's in sport

Endurance and strength athletes in particular have an increased need for branched-chain amino acids. After a protein-rich meal, the BCAAs are the first amino acids to enter the blood plasma and are supplied to the muscles, allowing the body to fall back on them directly.

Branched-chain amino acids include L-leucine, L-isoleucine and L-valine, they are involved in the formation of new proteins. These three amino acids are found in protein-containing foods and can be used as a supplement in bodybuilding, strength and endurance sports. As food supplements they are available in powder, liquid or capsule form.

A sufficient supply of BCAAs is necessary even during low physical exertion, as the branched-chain amino acids can play a role in the maintenance and regeneration of muscle tissue.

The human organism needs energy substrates, these are available in the blood and in muscle cells. These substrates include glucose and amino acids. The latter are important building materials for proteins, which the body needs to build and maintain muscles. Isoleucine is a component of proteins; these are used for the formation of new glucose when the glucose stores of the muscles are empty or depleted by physical exercise.