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What Are Amino Acids and What Do They Do?

What Are Amino Acids and What Do They Do?

Amino acids are the building blocks of life. They create the proteins that make muscle tissue and speed up the metabolism of fats. Athletes and bodybuilders use powdered amino acid supplements to help “bulk up” and improve their performance in competitions. Deficiency in one or more amino acids may cause poor metabolism, low energy, insomnia, poor digestion and other health problems. Getting enough of the essential amino acids helps control weight and removes waste from the blood. But what are amino acids and what do they do?

The nine essential amino acids come from food, since your body can’t synthesize them. These essential acids are isoleucine, leucine, lysine, histidine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. (You’ve probably heard of tryptophan as the substance in turkey that makes you sleepy).

Here’s some information about branched-chain amino acids, which provide crucial keys to body and brain function.

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA)

Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs for short) provide energy during exercise, canceling out their ability to build muscles. Valine, leucine and isoleucine are the only BCAAs. Many athletes take supplements containing BCAAs during weight training. Branched chain amino acids help stop muscle tissue from breaking down during vigorous exercise. It’s also believed that BCAAs release human growth hormone.


Valine works with leucine and isoleucine to accomplish several crucial tasks. It helps provide energy for the body and promote normal growth. It regulates blood sugar to prevent diabetes, keeps mental function sharp and stimulates the central nervous system. Valine gives muscles extra glucose for more energy during intense exercise. It may help reverse alcohol-related brain damage, and treat alcoholism related damage to the liver or gall bladder. Valine is available in dairy, meat, peanuts, soy and mushrooms. A valine supplement is recommended for people who exercise a lot or have a low-protein intake.

What are amino acids and how can they help you lose weight? Answer: Leucine

Leucine and the other BCAAs, valine and isoleucine, provide energy for the body and repairs muscles. This amino acid offers several important health processes on its own. Leucine helps burn deep fat layers in your body- the fat that’s the hardest to get rid of, and unresponsive to exercise or diet. If you have a few stubborn pounds, you can’t lose, more of the amino acid leucine in your diet (or through supplementation) may help you finally reach your goal. What are amino acids? They’re a help to dieters, athletes and people recovering from surgery or injuries, as leucine (and some other amino acids) promote healing of skin, bones and muscles.

Fish, eggs, soy, turkey, pork, whole wheat, brown rice and beef are a few of the protein-rich foods containing leucine. Athletes and  people who don’t get enough protein in their diets (strict vegans, for example) should take a leucine supplement.


Isoleucine increases endurance for athletes and other parties interested in better performance. It heals muscle tissues and promotes clotting at the wound site. Like the other BCAAs, its main purpose is helping the body recover from strenuous activity and repairing muscles. Isoleucine regulates blood sugar, preventing the headaches, dizziness, fatigue and depression that may lead to hypoglycemia.

Foods containing isoleucine contain a lot of protein. Nuts, meat, eggs, seeds, peas, turkey,chicken and lentils offer a high percentage of isoleucine. Athletes and other people who exercise frequently and individuals who receive little protein from their diets, should take a supplement with isoleucine.

For best results, individuals should take a BCAA supplement containing isoleucine, leucine and valine- all three branched chain amino acids. Wheatgrass supplements contain all BCAA amino acids, and powdered supplements (most often used by bodybuilders to make protein shakes) are good supplementation sources.

Other Essential Amino Acids

What are amino acids and are they needed for optimal health? Many amino acids share many of the same life-building qualities, such as building better muscles and strengthening the immune system while others have specific body building properties.

What are Amino Acids and How do They Give You Strong Bones and Teeth? Answer: Threonine

Threonine balances protein in the body. It helps stabilize blood sugar and strengthens bones and tooth enamel. This amino acid promotes healthy skin by rebuilding damaged tissues. Threonine also ensures normal liver function and reduces stress.

Threonine helps create the non-essential amino acids glycine and serine, which are necessary for collagen and muscle tissue production. This amino acid ensures connective tissues and muscles in the body (including the heart) remain strong.

This essential amino acids is found in turkey, tuna, meat, carrots, cranberries, watercress, eggs, sesame seeds, lentils, beans and sour cream. Lack of threonine in the diet may result in irritability, poor liver function and diseases of the central nervous system like Multiple sclerosis. 


Histidine helps create red and white blood cells and repairs body tissues. During an allergic reaction, it produces histamine. Histidine cleans and detoxifies the body, and it helps trigger sexual arousal.


Lysine produces antibodies and has strong antiviral properties. It prevents cold sores and herpes and bolsters the immune system. Vitamin C, flavonoids and lysine in supplement form has been shown to prevent herpes outbreaks, according to some studies.

Like several other amino acids, lysine helps form muscle protein and collagen. It also aids in healing injuries and recuperation from surgery Lysine isn’t manufactured in the body, so you must get 100% of it from food and supplements. Food sources of lysine include fish, red meat, eggs, potatoes, turkey, chicken, pumpkin seeds and soy.1


Phenylalanine is changed into tyrosine, another essential amino acid that creates brain chemicals, proteins and thyroid hormones, among other needed elements. This amino acid can be used to treat Parkinson’s disease by improving rigidity, depression and inability to walk, according to an animal study. Since phenylalanine boosts production of dopamine and other brain chemicals, it may help combat depression.

What are Amino Acids and How Do They Power Your Muscles? Answer:  Methionine

Methionine contains sulfur, which helps produce the non-essential amino acid glutathione. Methionine helps the liver process lipids. Along with choline and inositol, methionine ensures that fats don’t build up in the liver. It also helps to make creatine, a nutrient that produces energy to make muscles move. Methionine, like lysine and other amino acids, helps form collagen for stronger skin, nails and connective tissue.

Food sources of methionine include onions, garlic, fish, sunflower seeds, beans, lentils and yogurt. It’s also available in supplement form from health food stores.

What are Amino Acids and How do they Balance Your Mood? Answer: Tryptophan

Tryptophan, best known to most people as the substance in turkey that makes you calm and sleepy, serves as a mood regulator. It helps in the manufacture of serotonin, preventing or reducing the effects of depression, insomnia, anxiety and aggression. One study showed that argumentative adults who took 1000 mg of tryptophan, three times a day  became less angry and domineering. You can find tryptophan in spinach, lobster, halibut, egg whites, salmon, soy and turkey.  

What Are Amino Acids? Non-essential But Necessary Amino Acids

What are nonessential amino acids and what do they do?

Nonessential amino acids provide important biological functions necessary for health.

Your body can synthesize non-essential amino acids. You don’t need to get them from food (although you can); your body creates them on its own. Non-essential amino acids include alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine and tyrosine. Many textbooks and medical institutions include taurine as an amino acid, but others do not.

What are some non-essential amino acids and what do they do? Here’s a partial list:


Muscle tissues break down when you exercise, releasing toxins. Alanine removes toxins, allowing the liver to metabolize them and rid them from the body. It may help to reduce cholesterol. 


Necessary to transform amino acids, asparagine detoxifies the body and acts as a regulator of metabolism. It helps keep your nervous system balanced. 

Aspartic Acid

Aspartic acid raises metabolic levels, like asparagines. It aids in synthesis for other amino acids, and is used to treat depression and exhaustion. Aspartic acid is available in high protein foods, including meat, fish and eggs. High amounts of aspartic acid are found in the human brain. People who suffer from depression usually have lower amounts of aspartic acid in their brains, and doctors sometimes recommend it to improve mood.  


A detoxifier, cysteine is a free radical fighting antioxidant that protects the stomach lining.  It’s necessary to maintain strong, healthy nails and hair and youthful-looking skin.


Cystine, formed from two cysteine molecules, is a strong antioxidant that helps create connective tissue. It’s responsible for making glutathione, along with glycine and glutamine.


Another amino acid aiding in glutathione production, it’s the most plentiful amino acid in your bloodstream. Some studies have shown glutamine may act as an appetite suppressant. This amino acid is necessary for healthy brain function and digestion. Glutamine also strengthens the immune system, preventing colds, the flu and more serious medical conditions.


Glycine gives the body the glucose it needs for energy. It helps cells grow and function properly, and keeps the digestive system healthy. Glycine is a major component of collagen, which keeps skin elastic and youthful-looking. About one-third of the collagen in skin is made of glycine. What are amino acids? The answer “The building blocks of life” is certainly true when it comes to glycine. Without glycine, your skin wouldn’t be able to withstand damage from UV rays, fight free radicals or heal from wounds. 3


Glutathione detoxifies the liver and reduces the chance that you’ll develop serious diseases including asthma, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease or cancer. Patients with these illnesses have all demonstrated a glutathione deficiency, according to Huffington Post Healthy Living.2  (Your body will produce more glutathione if you eat broccoli, kale, onions, garlic or cauliflower or exercise regularly).


This amino acid is necessary for skin regeneration, reducing wrinkles and sagging. It promotes healthy, flexible joints and collagen production. 

What are Amino Acids and How Do They Fight Depression? Answer:  Serine

This amino acid is derived from glycine. It’s found in all cell membranes and is crucial for brain function, regulating mood and mental stability. Serine impacts physical health by forming muscles and boosting immunity.

Serine is essential in producing another amino acid, tryptophan, which is crucial for the formation of the happiness-regulating hormone serotonin. People lacking in serotonin and tryptophan are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and insomnia.

What are Amino Acids and Why are They in My Energy Drink? Taurine

You may notice the ingredient Taurine or L Taurine in many energy drinks or energy supplements. Taurine is one of the few natural sulfonic acids, travels freely through the bloodstream, like glutamine. It helps the digestive system and detoxifies the body.

You may notice the ingredient Taurine or L Taurine in many energy drinks or energy supplements Although your body can produce taurine, you can get additional amounts from seafood and meats. Increasing your intake of taurine improve the functioning of your central nervous system and cardiovascular system. It also helps your skeletal muscles and retina stay healthy. 4

Wheatgrass Love Wheatgrass Supplements Contain 20 Amino Acids, Vitamins Minerals and More

What are amino acids? They’re just a handful of the nutrients in Zeal O2, REVV and Happy Girl! 

WheatgrassLove offers three nutrient-powered wheatgrass supplements. The wheatgrass in Zeal O2 Weight Loss Supplement, Happy Girl Natural Mood Enhancer and REVV Natural Energy Supplement contains amino acids, vitamins (including B-complex, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Vitamin A), calcium, selenium, zinc, potassium and other minerals. The full spectrum of high-value nutrients in Wheatgrass Love products gives you stronger muscles, protects your immune system and gives your better skin, hair and nails – in part due to the amino acids in wheatgrass! And those are just a few of the benefits of taking wheatgrass supplements from WheatgrassLove.

Happy Girl offers a balanced formula of wheatgrass, B-complex vitamins and a potent herbal blend to boost your mood. If you suffer from mild or moderate depression-or just an occasional case of the blues, Happy Girl can help you. It’s an all-natural, safe alternative to prescription antidepressants for some people. (Always check with your doctor before using Happy Girl or any dietary supplement.) Read more about Happy Girl here:

REVV Natural Energy Supplement contains a blend of wheatgrass, L-taurine and periwinkle herb in tasty chocolate mint wafers. When you need extra pep, and coffee or energy drinks won’t cut it, try REVV. Read more about REVV Natural Energy Wafers here:

Zeal O2 Natural Weight Loss Supplement provides amino acids like leucine to control your appetite and help you lose weight without a struggle. Zeal O2 also contains a proprietary blend of ginseng, bitter orange (Citrus Aurantium), gingko biloba, green tea extract and other herbs for more nutrition and quick, safe weight loss. Read more about Zeal O2 here: 

What are amino acids? They offer powerful nutritional support in Zeal O2, REVV and Happy Girl! Build stronger muscles (even if you’re not a bodybuilder) and feel better with wheatgrass supplements from Wheatgrass Love!(Consult your doctor before using any dietary supplement)