Proteins are indispensable for our lives and crucial for all body functions. As our body cannot store proteins, we have to feed our bodies every day to ensure an optimal task fulfilment.
The amino acids are building blocks of proteins. After water, proteins, and thus the amino acids building blocks, are the second most contained substance in the human body. Stress, nutritional imbalance and chronic diseases can lead to a lack of amino acids. Initially, those can cause a weak immune system and fatigue, which then eventually can lead to significant physical dysfunctions. Therefore, the optimal protein supply is crucial to human health. In fact, many parts of our body – hair, muscles, fingernails, etc. – are largely encompassing protein. Differences between, for example, our muscles and our fingernails show that the type of protein can differ.
The reason for these differences is the individual amino acids who combine with other amino acids to so-called amino chains. Depending on the order of the individual amino acids, different proteins are produced. The combination itself determines the mode of operation and the main focus of a protein. Our genes, the DNA strains, contain the building instructions for the proteins which are produced by making use of the body’s amino acids. These amino acid chains have to achieve a three-dimensional structure to perform their tasks – e.g. the metabolic regulation or certain tasks in the protection against infections. To do so, proteins possess a unique folding technique that allows each protein to develop a specific folding structure that contributes to its unique function.
There are 20 different amino acids and most of them can be produced by our body itself. One differentiates between essential amino acids, which the body cannot produce itself and absorb through food, and non-essential amino acids, which are formed in the metabolism.
The essential amino acids encompass: valine, leucine, isoleucine, threonine, methionine, phenylalanine, tryptophan and lysine. In addition, histidine and arginine are essential in infants.
The non-essential amino acids include among others alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid (=aspartate), glutamine, glutamic acid, glycine, proline, serine and tyrosine.
The basis of every essential amino acid needed by the body is food. Especially, food containing protein as for example, meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes and soybeans.
Amino acids are the building blocks of our muscles, tendons and ligaments as well as skin and hair. Moreover, they are also playing an essential role in our immune system and are the basic substances for enzymes and hormones. As a blood protein, amino acids fulfil various transport functions. They are part of the membrane, protect nerves and are carriers of genetic information. As part of the weight training, amino acids are known to support the gain of muscle mass. Although amino acids are the smallest building blocks of proteins, they are essential for the proper function of our body. Once an amino acid is missing, the function of all proteins is impaired. Therefore, a permanent lack of amino acids can have negative consequences for the body and health. The most common consequences are increased susceptibility to infections, loss of performance, joint problems or deficits in muscle gain.
Foods that are deficient in essential amino acids generally supply the organism with inadequate amino acids. The organism needs a balanced mixture of amino acids. As soon as one amino acid is decreased, the other amino acids cannot be used to produce proteins but will be broken down into fats and sugars.
In times of high stress at work or in the family life, it can be helpful to provide the body with a balanced mix of amino acids. The body will need those to stay strong and healthy. Supplemented amino acids will support the body in its conditions to function and fulfil its tasks. Then, as stated before, proteins are indispensable for our lives.