Detailed Function of Amino Acids

Amino acids are chemical units that makeup proteins. They are composed of 16 percent nitrogen, which creates the distinguishing difference between two other basic nutrients; sugars and fatty acids. Because proteins provide the structure for all living organisms and amino acids are an essential component of protein, a person can readily understand the importance of amino acids to life in general and especially to a healthy organism.

This section discusses some of the hard data and major metabolic factors about each amino acid.
Click on the amino acid link in the following charts.

ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS (must enter the body through diet ):

  • histidine
  • isoleucine
  • leucine
  • lysine
  • methionine
  • phenylalanine
  • threonine
  • tryptophan
  • valine

NONESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS, (manufactured in the body from other amino acids obtained from dietary sources):

  • alanine
  • glutamine
  • arginine
  • glycine
  • asparagines/aspartic acid
  • ornithine
  • citrulline
  • proline
  • cysteine/cystine
  • serine
  • gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)
  • taurine
  • glutamic acid
  • tyrosine

Conditionally Essential
These amino acids are normally non-essential, but become essential during times of physiological stress. If your system is stressed, out of balance, or diseased, these amino acids often become essential and you must get them from food or supplements.

  • Arginine
  • Glycine
  • Cystine
  • Tyrosine
  • Proline
  • Glutamine
  • Taurine

Other Amino Acids
Many other amino acids occur in man in very small amounts; as yet little is known about these. Furthermore, peptides (made up of two or more amino acids) are also thought to be essential dietary constituents that the body cannot make, but these peptides are not well understood. In the future, the list of essential and nonessential amino acids may well be expanded.