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Essential Amino Acids

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About Essential Amino Acids

Essential amino acids are foundational building blocks for human health and wellbeing. Thesey are required for a vast number of processes, such as the repair of muscle tissue, supporting liver detoxification and even neurotransmitter synthesis in the brain. With such a wide range of metabolic processes relying on essential amino acids, a deficit can adversely impact health as well as exercise performance and recovery.

 

Low essential amino acid levels can occur due to a decreased intake of quality protein, poor gut health or an increased protein requirement. Increases in protein needs, which includes the essential amino acids, can occur for a number of reasons, such as fighting an infection (cold or flu), healing after an injury or increases in exercise level. Essential amino acids are needed for white blood cell (immune cell) formation in the bone marrow, the synthesis of immunoglobulins and to heal damaged tissue.

 

Essential amino acid (EAAs) supplements stimulate muscle protein synthesis (MPS) more robustly than food or other supplements, backed by research supporting this fact. MPS is an anabolic process that leads to the building and repair of muscle tissue. When the rate of MPS is the same as the rate of breakdown, muscle size stays the same. A healthy balance between muscle breakdown and building is referred to as protein turnover, crucial for general muscle health.  

 

EAAs have been shown to stimulate MPS to a much greater degree than whey protein and dietary proteins such as whole eggs or fish. This means they can improve muscle recovery as a result of exercise, and assist with recouping muscle tissue losses. 

 

Essential amino acids supplements have the advantage of being in free-form. This means there is no digestion required before absorption can take place. Once absorbed into the blood, EAAs are transported to the tissues of the body, such as muscle. Individuals with digestive difficulties may find essential amino acids supplements more helpful than standard protein powders for this reason—they do not need to be digested by acids and enzymes. Essential amino acids can be used before, during or after exercise, without leading to nausea as food or protein shakes can sometimes do when engaged in rigorous exercise. 

 

Some Roles of Essential Amino Acids:

* Tryptophan- used for serotonin production, which is then used for melatonin synthesis at night, therefore helping with mood, sleep and digestion. 

* Phenylalanine- required for tyrosine, dopamine, noradrenaline and adrenaline production. These assist with mood, energy level, blood pressure and help to reduce addictive tendencies. 

* Lysine- needed for carnitine synthesis, which aids in mitochondrial health and the conversion of long-chain fatty acids to energy. It is also needed to support the immune system, helping to control the replication of some viruses and soft tissue strength via hydroxylysine. 

 

EAAs may be taken between meals to maximise muscle protein synthesis, or immediately before or during exercise to offset the catabolic effects of strenuous training. Three of the essential amino acids are called the branched chain amino acids, and are found in quality protein food and powders, as well as plant proteins, such as those found in plant protein powders of pea, rice, sacha inchi and chia seed. Proteins that contain all of the essential amino acids in appreciable amounts are generally referred to as complete proteins. These foods will also contain a substantial amount of nonessential amino acids.

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