Amino Acids Definition

What are amino acids in simple terms? Amino acids definition is not complicated at their core. So, amino acids are proteins that were split into particles. When a protein breaks down, for example, during digestion, it forms these nutrients. There are 20+1 amino acids in total needed to healthy and correct functioning of the human body. By the way, some of them are essential to us.

Amino Acids Definition FAQ

How many amino acids are there in the human body?

There are 20+1 amino acids in total needed to healthy and correct functioning of the human body. You can see 20 amino acids list below in this article. These 20 appear in our genetic code (in DNA structure). 1 amino acid, selenocysteine, is the 21-st proteinogenic amino acid that was discovered not so long ago.

What do amino acids do?

Every amino acid plays its own role in the human body. All amino acids are needed for a lot of vital processes, including the building of cells and proteins, synthesis of hormones and keeping your immunity up. See all the amino acid functions below.

What are the essential amino acids?

Essential amino acids cannot be produced by the human body. So all of them should come from our everyday food. There are 9 essential amino acids in our body.

Amino Acids Functions

In the human body, amino acids perform many functions:

  • Responsible for the creation of new cells, as well as the regeneration of muscle fibers.
  • Provide the body with additional energy.
  • Contribute to normal metabolism, maintaining a healthy hormonal background.
  • Improve memory, increase concentration, and also affect the state of the nervous system.
  • Support the immune system.
  • Suppress appetite and also help get rid of excess weight.
  • Play an important role in the formation of muscle relief.
  • Improve the condition of hair, nails and skin.

Amino Acids List

All amino acids can be divided into three types:

  • 6 Non-essential which can be produced in the human body. These are alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, serine and newly discovered selenocysteine. The last one is considered the 21st amino acid.
  • 6 Conditionally essential produced only in favorable conditions or only in adults. Arginine, cysteine, tyrosine, glycine, glutamine, proline are conditionally essential amino acids.
  • 9 Essential. They are not produced independently and enter the body only with diet products. These are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.

Nonessential and Conditionally Essential Amino Acids

Here is the full amino acids list. Nonessential and conditionally essential amino acids mainly are synthesized in the liver. These include:

  • Alanine is a part of biologically active compounds. It also participates in the glucose-alanine cycle.
  • Asparagine participates in the formation of pyrimidine bases and urea. This amino acid plays an important role in the metabolism of nitrogenous substances.
  • Aspartic acid plays an important role in the metabolism of nitrogen-containing substances. In addition, it participates in the formation of urea, pyrimidine bases.
  • Glutamic acid is involved in oxidative processes, in the metabolism of proteins, and in the utilization of glucose.
  • Serine is used as a starting material for the formation of creatine. It is involved in the transformation of glycogen.
  • Arginine is a nitrogen donor, has antioxidant properties, reduces the level of bad cholesterol, enhances the secretion of growth hormone, improves the transport of creatine, and also accelerates recovery.
  • Cysteine promotes detoxification of the body, increases sports endurance.
  • Glycine increases brain activity. It also protects against psycho-emotional stress.
  • Glutamine is essential for effective muscle growth. It supports the immune system.
  • Proline provides the body with energy.
  • Tyrosine contributes to the production of dopamine. It also improves attention and provides energy.

Essential Amino Acids

Essential amino acids are not synthesized in human body, so they should be intake with food. These include:

  • Histidine promotes the growth and restoration of tissues. Also it is contained in hemoglobin.
  • Leucine protects muscle tissue. It is used in the treatment of arthritis. It also increases the anabolic response of muscles.
  • Valine has a stimulating effect. It is necessary for metabolism in the muscles and for quick recovery after intense training.
  • Isoleucine helps cells absorb glucose, enhances muscle growth. It also participates in the synthesis of hemoglobin.
  • Lysine has antiviral properties, stimulates the immune system. It is used to prevent osteoporosis.
  • Methionine has a metabolic, hepatoprotective effect. In addition, it is involved in the exchange of sulfur-containing amino acids.
  • Phenylalanine is used in the treatment of various diseases: vitiligo, depression, ADHD.
  • Tryptophan participates in the production of serotonin, in the synthesis of melatonin, and also positively affects the immune system.
  • Threonine maintains protein balance in the body.

To sum up, amino acids definition is simple. It is more useful to know their roles in our body. Finally, the last important thing is amino acids structure. You can see it on the picture below.

general structure of amino acids: amine group + radical + carboxylic group

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