What are essential amino acids?
Essential amino acids are amino acids that cannot be synthesized in the human body and must come with protein food. Recall that science distinguishes 22 of the most important amino acids, 8 of which are indispensable - valine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, threonine, tryptophan and phenylalanine. Arginine is also indispensable for children.
The absence or lack of essential amino acids in the diet leads to metabolic disorders (in particular, due to the creation of a negative nitrogen balance in the body and impaired protein biosynthesis). As a result, immunity deteriorates, various functions of tissue repair and growth stop, the risk of nervous disorders, depression and other mental disorders increases.
In turn, BCAA amino acids available as sports nutrition are a combination of leucine, isoleucine and valine. The daily requirement for these three amino acids is 5-6 g, or half of the total requirement for all essential amino acids. Eating enough essential amino acids is especially important for athletes, vegetarians and pregnant women.
The functions of essential amino acids
- Valine - necessary for metabolic processes in the muscles, is actively involved in the recovery processes after training. It can be used by muscles as an additional source of energy.
- Isoleucine - necessary for the synthesis of hemoglobin, contributes to normal blood coagulation, protecting the body from infections. Increases endurance, promotes recovery and rapid muscle growth.
- Leucine - regulates blood sugar, accelerates wound healing and can be a source of energy for muscles. Promotes restoration of bones, skin, muscle tissue. Lowers cholesterol and boosts growth hormone production.
- Lysine - necessary for bone formation, promotes the absorption of calcium. This essential amino acid is involved in the synthesis of antibodies, hormones, enzymes, collagen formation and tissue repair.
- Methionine - promotes normal digestion, maintaining liver health, participates in the processing of fats, protects against toxins and radiation.
- Threonine - helps maintain normal protein metabolism in the body, while helping the liver. It is necessary for the proper functioning of the immune system.
- Tryptophan - It is used by the body to synthesize the hormones serotonin and melatonin, which are the most important neurotransmitters. It is necessary for insomnia, depression and to stabilize mood.
- Phenylalanine is a neurotransmitter for nerve cells in the brain. Effectively helps with depression, arthritis, migraine, and obesity. It is poorly absorbed with a lack of vitamin C.
Benefits of BCAA amino acids in sports
Leucine is considered one of the most important essential amino acids for athletes. It enhances the production of growth hormone, helps heal microdamages in the muscles, promotes energy production and prevents the breakdown of muscle tissue. Leucine is actively involved in muscle growth by activating the mTOR anabolic complex, which is responsible for regulating protein synthesis.
Isoleucine promotes muscle recovery, stimulates the production of growth hormone and regulates blood sugar. This amino acid is involved in the formation of hemoglobin and contributes to normal blood coagulation. It is also considered a necessary component of the intestinal microflora, has a bactericidal effect against certain pathogenic bacteria.
Valine has a stimulating effect in gaining muscle mass, since this essential amino acid acts as an energy source, thus controlling the use of glucose by the body. Valine prevents the reduction of serotonin levels, being a natural antidepressant. It helps to reduce appetite, therefore it is necessary during training for fat burning .
Essential Amino Acids in Products
The largest amount of essential amino acids is found in protein foods - all kinds of meat (ranging from beef and pork to chicken and rabbit), eggs, fish, and offal. Dairy products are also rich in amino acids - milk, cottage cheese, cheese, sour cream. Among plant products containing essential amino acids, it should be noted legumes - beans, soybeans, lentils, as well as nuts and mushrooms.
It is important to understand that with regular meat consumption, the human body easily covers the metabolic needs of both the essential amino acids in general and the BCAA amino acids in particular (i.e., leucine, isoleucine and valine). We can talk about a dangerous shortage of these substances only with a strict vegan diet or with a mono diet for weight loss (pineapple, cucumber, and so on).
Amino Acids in Cereals
Buckwheat and similar pseudo-cereal crops (in particular, quinoa and amaranth) are the leaders in the content of essential amino acids in cereals. Unlike wheat, rice and oatmeal, buckwheat contains a full range of amino acids important for metabolism. The use of 100 g of buckwheat covers about 10% of the body's needs for essential amino acids.
Essential amino acids in cereals, grams per 100 g of dry product:
The consequences of a lack of amino acids in the diet
Insufficient protein content in food and chronic deficiency of essential amino acids lead to a negative nitrogen balance and the development of one of the forms of vitamin deficiency (pellagra) associated with a lack of tryptophan necessary for the formation of tryptophan. Symptoms of lack are muscle weakness, loss of appetite, swelling of the tissues, as well as brittle nails, dry skin, hair loss.
Symptoms of amino acid deficiency:
- decreased immunity
- muscle loss
- retardation of the central nervous system
- hormone inhibition
- fatty liver
- growth retardation in children
Essential amino acids are amino acids important for metabolism that cannot be synthesized in the human body and must be supplied with protein foods. BCAA amino acids are available as a sports nutrition - a combination of leucine, isoleucine and valine. Natural sources of amino acids are meat and other protein foods.