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Amino Acids

Amino acids and proteins are the building blocks of life as well as a source of energy by the body. When proteins are digested or broken down, amino acids are left. The human body uses amino acids to make proteins to help the body:

  • Break down food
  • Grow
  • Repair body tissue

Amino acids are classified into three groups:

Essential amino acids cannot be made by the body. As a result, they must come from food.
The nine essential amino acids are: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.

"Non-essential" means that our bodies produce an amino acid, even if we don't get it from the food we eat. They include: alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, and glutamic acid.

Conditional amino acids are usually not essential, except in times of illness and stress. They include: arginine, cysteine, glutamine, tyrosine, glycine, ornithine, proline, and serine.

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Tryptophan

Tryptophan is needed for normal growth in infants and for nitrogen balance in adults.

The body uses tryptophan to help make niacin and serotonin. Serotonin is thought to produce healthy sleep and a stable mood.

In order for tryptophan in the diet to be changed into niacin, the body needs to have enough: Iron, Riboflavin and Vitamin B6.

Tryptophan can be found in: Cheese, Chicken, Eggs, Fish, Milk, Nuts, Peanut butter, Peanuts, Pumpkin seeds, Sesame seeds, Soy, Tofu and Turkey.

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002332.htm