Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. There are around 100 available amino acids and humans needs only 20 of them. Amino acids are not only required for protein synthesis but they have a major role to play in cell shape generation as well as transportation of minerals and storage of nutrients. Amino acids are required in the repair of damaged tissues as well and they do help to maintain metabolism of the human body.
The article aims at covering some of the aspects of non-essential amino acids and their benefits to the human body in detail. There are numerous health benefits associated with each of the amino acid. The article lists the major ones.
Types of Amino Acids
Amino acids are of two types – Essential Amino Acids and Non-Essential Amino acids. As humans we need a total of 20 amino acids.
Essential Amino Acids: They are 9 in number namely Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Valine, Histidine.
The Essential Amino Acids are termed “essential” because the body cannot prepare them. We need to consume them through our food. They are 9 in number but usually humans require only 8 out of them. Histidine is usually required by the children.
Non-essential Amino Acids: They are also 11 in number namely Arginine, Alanine, Asparagine, Aspartate, Cysteine, Glutamate, Glutamine, Glycine, Proline, Serine, Tyrosine.
The non-essential amino acids are termed as such because the body has the ability to prepare them itself.
Non-Essential Amino Acids
There are 11 in number as previously stated. Out of these 11, 8 are “conditional”. The term “conditional” refers to the state of human body in which it is unable to produce them due to reasons like illness, tension or stress. The list of conditional amino acids is arginine, glutamine, tyrosine, cysteine, glycine, proline, serine & ornithine.
Non-Essential Amino Acids in Detail
Arginine is also known as L-Arginine. Arginine can’t be synthesized from other amino acids. Arginine changes to Nitric Oxide in the human body and serves as a powerful vasodilator.
The health benefits of arginine include
- Healing of wounds
- Detoxification of the kidneys
- Immune and hormone maintenance
- Artery dilation
There are rare cases of L-Arginine deficiency as the body is capable of producing it and it is found in red meat, wheat germs, grains, nuts and seeds.
Alanine is produced by other amino acids like pyruvate and leucine, valine and isoleucine. It is popularly known as L-Alanine. A more dense form exits by the name of Beta Alanine. Beta Alanine has applications in the sports industry as it is a performance improver.
The health benefits of alanine include
- Amino Acid Metabolism: Alanine along with Glutamine helps maintaining Amino Acid Metabolism in the body
- Glucose Production: It is absorbed by the liver and then it is converted into pyruvate which helps in maintaining glucose levels in the blood
- Hypoglycemia prevention: As Alanine helps in glucose production, it aids in prevention of insulin shocks and low sugar levels in the blood
Asparagine is known as the first amino acid to be isolated from its source. It was synthesized from asparagus by Pierre Jean Robiquet and Louis-Nicolas Vauquelin. Asparagine is known for its major role in synthesis of glycoproteins. In the human body, it is synthesized by the liver.
The health benefits of asparagine include
- Transport Nitrogen: Asparagine is known for its efficiency of transporting nitrogen inside the body as well as its cell building capability
- Neuron Development: It is one of the most important amino acid required for neuron development
- Stamina Boost: Research has shown that asparagine when supplemented has shown improvement in stamina of athletes
Deficiency of asparagine can lead to neural disorders, depression, irritation and the extreme case might lead to psychosis.
Aspartate is commonly known as Aspartic Acid and it is a negatively charged polar amino acid. It is synthesized by the liver in the human body. Aspartate exists in combination of chemical substances as well.
The health benefits of Aspartate include
- As an agent in dietary supplements: Aspartate is combined with iron, copper, magnesium, zinc to manufacture dietary supplements. The combination of aspartate increases the solubility of the above mentioned minerals.
- Acts as a neurotransmitter: It might not be the strongest neurotransmitter present, but it is beneficial in stimulating NMDA receptors.
Cysteine is widely used by the human body for various important functions. In supplements, it is usually in the form of N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC).The body converts it into cysteine and then into glutathione which is a powerful antioxidant.
The health benefits of Cysteine include
- Acetaminophen poisoning: N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) is usually given by doctors when there is an overdose of
- Chronic bronchitis & COPD: NAC is highly useful in treatment chronic bronchitis as it has reduced risks by 40%.
- Angina pain treatment: NAC with nitroglycerin open ups the blood vessel for better blood inflow. This helps in lowering the chest pain felt by angina patients.
- Improvements in Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS): ARDS is a life threatening disease. It develops post injury to the lungs. Dosage of NAC has shown improvements in ARDS cases and may prevent the growth of the disease also.
Glutamate is a very important amino acid and it is widely used as an ingredient commonly known as MSG (monosodium glutamate). It has to be noticed that food regulations don’t allow higher levels of MSG in food as it results in a sudden fall in blood pressure.
Glutamate is used as a very powerful neurotransmitter. The body produces it for the sole reason and it has to be present in the required quantity at the required place at the required time. Excess concentration of Glutamate is highly toxic as there are examples of it associated with MSG usage.
The health benefits of Glutamate include
- Acts as a transmitter inside the brain: Glutamate is the major mediator of signal transduction in humans as well as mammals in the CNS. Its other roles include memory vitalization, cognition and learning .
- Acts as a neurotransmitter: Glutamate is present in the brain at good concentrations. Apart from protein synthesis, it plays a crucial role in brain metabolism.
- Schizophrenia treatment: Glutamic acid is widely used in the treatment of Schizophrenia patients. It has a proven track record in reversing the deficiency of the syndrome.
Glutamine is widely used as recovery agent in sports. This is one of the widely amino acids known. Glutamine is commonly known as L-Glutamine. Its present in good quantities inside the body and the skeleton constitutes to 61 % of glutamine present in the human body. Glutamine contains Nitrogen and that’s why it’s known to be a nitrogen carrier.
The health benefits of Glutamine include
- Recovery agent: Glutamine is consumed after a workout by athletes as it aids in faster muscle recovery. Being a Nitrogen carrier , it helps in synthesis of protein by the cells.
- Burns and wound healing: Glutamine is given to patients suffering from burns as it reduces the chances of infection. Helps in healing wounds quickly.
- Post-surgery: Administrating Glutamine intravenously helps in killing infection bacteria post a surgery and also helps restoring immune system.
Glycine is the smallest amino acid according to its structure. Glycine is manufactured by the body and a typical meal might contain around 2 grams of Glycine.
The health benefits of Glycine include
- Schizophrenia treatment: Glycine might prove beneficial when combined with glutamate and other drugs in the treatment of schizophrenia.
- Prevention of strokes: Glycine can be very helpful in the prevention of ischemic stroke. Ischemic stroke is the most common type of brain stroke and it is caused by the blockage of a blood vessel in the brain. Keeping Glycine under the tongue during the stroke , helps limit the damage.
- Cream for ulcers: Glycine is particularly used in creams that are applied on the leg ulcers.
Proline is known as L-proline. It is synthesized in the body by the breakdown of L-glutamate. Consumption of foods reach in L-glutamate helps ensuring proper levels of Proline.
The health benefits of Proline include
- Formation of collagen: Collagen acts as a shock absorber and reduces friction. Collagen is very smooth and flexible tissue that helps in holding the bones together. Collagen contains around 15% of proline.
- Arteriosclerosis prevention: Arteriosclerosis is a stage in which the arteries become hard which leads to various heart diseases. Proline enables the walls of the arteries to release the fat buildup in the bloodstream thereby decreasing the chances of hear blockage.
As Proline increases collagen production, there are improvements in skin as well as there is a better repair of the tissues.
Serine is also known as L-serine. It is synthesized by the body from glycine and threonine, which themselves are amino acids. Serine offers a number of physical and mental health benefits.
The health benefits of Serine include
- Tryptophan production: Serine is used by the body to produce tryptophan. Tryptophan in turn is used to synthesize serotonin (the mood hormone). When the body doesn’t have enough levels of serotonin and tryptophan, there are symptoms like anxiety, confusion, insomnia and depression.
- Overall body health: Serine is vital in fat metabolism, it is also involved in the proper functioning of RNA and DNA as well as muscle formation and immune maintenance.
The other health benefits of Serine include treatment of CFS(Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and Fibromyalgia(FM).
Tyrosine is also known as L-Tyrosine. Tyrosine is no different from other amino acids if protein synthesis is kept in view but it is one of the most important amino acid for the process. Tyrosine is involved in many bodily functions and that is what it makes it very important. Consumption of food rich in iron helps in production of tyrosine in the body.
However, it has to be noted that excess levels of tyrosine might interfere with the production of thyroid hormone.
The health benefits of Tyrosine include
- Prevention of brain damage: Phenylalanine is the precursor to tyrosine in the body. There is a condition called Phenylketonuria where the body is unable to produce Phenylalanine which, if in low quantities, can result in brain damage. A common treatment is to supplement the patient with Tyrosine as it aids in Phenylalanine production.
- Stress Relief: Tyrosine supplementation replenishes neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine (noradrenaline), and epinephrine (adrenaline). The body releases these hormones with the help of Tyrosine to handle the situation well.
The other health benefits include the ability to reduce blood pressure and it does make the mood better. L-Tyrosine has also been used in pre workout supplements as it aids in proper focus and energy.