Table of amino acids: functions, types and characteristics

Protein (and amino acids) is one of the most popular macronutrients today., In large part because foods rich in these molecules are part of many diets intended to lose weight (high calorie diets).

But leaving aside its benefits on weight loss and improving body aesthetics, proteins are one of the foundations of any vital process, because they are absolutely necessary for our body and their functions are diverse: they allow cells to defend themselves against external agents, to control and regulate. works in our body, repairs damage …

    Important amino acids for humans

    The units that proteins are built with are amino acids (AA), And although there are hundreds of amino acids that play important roles in nature, there are only 20 that are part of proteins (proteins or canonical amino acids).

    However, there are also other so-called non-protein AAs which play a determining role for humans and have a specific function, for example GABA.

    • You can find out more about this neurotransmitter in our article: “GABA (neurotransmitter): what is it and what role it plays in the brain”

    What are nonessential amino acids

    Canonical amino acids are the raw material of proteinsBut these can be classified in two ways: essential and non-essential. The main difference between these types of amino acids is that some of them are synthesized by the human body and some are not, so it is necessary to pass them through the diet.

    The former are non-essential amino acids, while the latter are essential amino acids. Nonessential amino acids are just as important as essential amino acids. because they help build strong muscles and maintain a healthy and productive brain.

    Amino Acid Table

    In the following lines you can find the 20 amino acids (essential and non-essential) that are part of proteins, and we have explained their functions and characteristics.

    Types of essential amino acids

    The protein amino acids that the body does not synthesize and therefore must be ingested through the diet are as follows.

    1. Phenylalanine

    These amino acids are associated with the feeling of well-being, as they are regulators of endorphins. Among its most important functions are reducing excessive appetite and reducing pain.

    Phenylalanine is also involved in the synthesis of catecholamines adrenaline, dopamine and norepinephrine, so it promotes alertness, improves memory and learning, and increases vitality. Supplements containing this amino acid can be used to improve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, vitiligo, chronic pain, or for the comprehensive treatment of depression.

    2. Isoleucine

    Deficiency of this amino acid seems to be involved in certain mental and physical disorders: Depression, behavioral disorders, decrease in muscle mass, etc. This AA is essential for the formation of hemoglobin and muscle tissue, and stabilizes and regulates blood sugar and energy levels. Plus, it helps heal wounds, skin and bones.

    3. Leucine

    It is one of the 3 branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) along with isoleucine and valine, Which are involved in protein synthesis. It is a powerful insulin stimulant, it is necessary for the healing of wounds and bones. It modulates the release of encephalins, which are natural pain relievers.

    4. Lysine

    It inhibits the development of viruses in the body and, therefore, is used in the treatment of herpes, As well as viruses associated with chronic fatigue syndrome. Lysine participates in the synthesis of L-carnitine alongside vitamin C.

    It also helps form collagen, the connective tissue found in bones, ligaments, tendons, and joints. It promotes calcium and therefore is essential for children as it is essential for bone formation. It is also involved in the production of hormones and lowers serum triglyceride levels.

    5. Threonine

    Threonine is necessary for the formation of collagen and helps in the production of antibodies. It is also necessary for the normal functioning of the gastrointestinal tract and can be converted into glycine. a central nervous system neurotransmitter.

    6. Tryptophan

    One of the amino acids best known to psychologists, because it is involved in the synthesis of serotonin and melanin. Therefore, it actively participates in improving mood and helps improve the quality of sleep.

    • You can find out more about this amino acid in our article: “Tryptophan: characteristics and functions of this amino acid”

    7. Valina

    This amino acid competes with tyrosine and tryptophan to cross the blood-brain barrier.. The higher the level of valine, the lower the levels of the other two AAs in the brain. Valine is actively absorbed and used directly by the muscle for an energy source, so it is not processed by the liver before entering the bloodstream.

    A deficiency in valine results in the absorption of other amino acids (and proteins) in smaller amounts by the gastrointestinal tract.

    8. Arginine

    Arginine is essential for normal immune system activity and wound healing. It also participates in the release of growth hormone and increases the release of insulin and glucagon. It is a precursor of GABA, decreases the size of tumors and is necessary for spermatogenesis.

    9. Histidine

    Useful in the treatment of anemia due to its relationship to hemoglobin. It is a precursor to histamine and therefore has been used to treat allergies. It helps maintain the correct pH of the blood and has also been used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

    10. Methionine

    It actively participates in the breakdown of fats and reduces blood cholesterol. Helps prevent hair, skin and nail disorders. It is an antioxidant and participates in the synthesis of RNA and DNA.

    Non-essential amino acids

    The essential amino acids, that is, those synthesized by the human body, are as follows.

    11. Aspartic acid

    Aspartic acid increases endurance and physical performance and is good for chronic fatigue. It is one of the two main excitatory amino acids, the other being glutamic acid). It helps protect the liver, participates in DNA and RNA metabolism and improves the immune system.

    12. Glutamic acid

    Another of the excitatory amino acids, along with the previous one, so they share many functions. It improves physical performance and reduces fatigue. It is essential for the synthesis of DNA and RNA and helps protect the body and improves the immune system.

    13. Alanine

    Alanine is important for muscle growth and is a great source of energy for muscles. It is involved in the metabolism of sugar, stimulates the immune system through the production of antibodies, and is essential for connective tissue.

    14. Asparagus

    Asparagine is the binding of aspartic acid to ATP (adenosine triphosphate). It is involved in the process of short-term memory, helps remove ammonia from the body, decreases fatigue and participates in DNA synthesis.

    15. Cysteine

    Cysteine ​​is an antioxidant and protects against radiation, Pollution, ultraviolet light and other phenomena that cause the production of free radicals. It acts as a natural “detox” and is essential for the growth, maintenance and repair of skin and hair. It is a precursor of the amino acid taurine and chondroitin sulfate. The latter is the main component of cartilage.

    16. Wisteria

    It is part of the structure of hemoglobin and is one of the two main inhibitory neurotransmitters in the nervous system. (The other is GABA). It is also part of the cytochromes, which are enzymes involved in the production of energy. It participates in the production of glucagon, which helps in the metabolism of glycogen.

    17. Glutamine

    Glutamine is a precursor of two of the most important CNS neurotransmitters: Glutamate and GABA. It helps you maintain normal and constant blood sugar levels and helps build muscle strength and endurance. Indispensable for gastrointestinal function.

    18. Prolina

    An essential component of cartilage, and therefore essential for healthy joints, tendons and ligaments. It helps keep the heart strong. The main precursor of proline is glutamate. One of its most important functions is to maintain healthy skin and joints.

    19. Serina

    Participates in the improvement of the immune system by helping the production of antibodies and immunoglobulins and participates in the development of the myelin sheath. Serine is necessary for the growth and maintenance of muscles.

      20. Tyrosine

      Tyrosine is a precursor amino acid for the hormone thyroxine, Which is involved in metabolic processes. It is also a precursor to growth hormone and the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine (adrenaline) and serotonin, which improves mood, sleep, clarity of thought, concentration and memory.

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