What are Amino Acids and why should you care?

Amino acids are pretty amazing. As well as forming the DNA of all life on earth, they regulate mood and weight and perform a range of other functions. Somewhat incredibly, they also make up 75% of your dry body weight.

You’re probably already familiar with the term, but what exactly are amino acids, and what do they do for our bodies? In this article we’ll talk about the definition of amino acids, the benefits of the essential amino acids, whether you can obtain them through a plant-based diet, as well as their importance in our formula.

The basics: amino acids, essential amino acids, and their benefits 

Amino acids are organic compounds composed of nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, are often referred to as the building blocks of proteins, and they play very important roles in your body. Although our body needs 20 different types of amino acids to function (there are more than 50 that occur in nature), there are 9 amino acids that are classified as essential. They can’t be produced by our body, so we have to obtain them through food intake.  

To simplify it, here’s the role the essential amino acids play in your body, which explains why they’re key in helping our body with several processes :

  • Phenylalanine: it plays a key role in the biosynthesis of other amino acids, and in the structure of several proteins and enzymes.
  • Valine helps stimulate muscle growth and regeneration, and plays an important role in energy production.
  • Methionine is a key amino acid in the absorption of several vital minerals for our health, and is necessary for tissue growth.
  • Leucine is very important for protein synthesis and muscle repair, as it stimulates wound healing and produces growth hormones.
  • Tryptophan is a vital amino acid to maintain nitrogen balance, and is a precursor to a neurotransmitter that regulates the appetite, sleep and mood, called serotonin.
  • Threonine plays a big role in metabolism and immune function, it’s a principal part of collagen and elastin. 
  • Isoleucine is very concentrated in muscle tissue, and important for immune function and energy regulation.
  • Histidine amino acid is used to produce a neurotransmitter called histamine that is used to immune response and sexual function, among others. It’s critical for maintaining the myelin sheath, which protects your nerve cells.
  • Lysine which is important in the production of collagen and elastin, it plays an essential role in protein synthesis and enzyme production you can find more information and details about these and more amino acids here).

Plant-based diets: do they have my essential amino acids intake covered?

As we’ve covered in other articles, one of the great myths about veganism is that you can’t get all the protein sources for a vegan diet. This is totally incorrect. A vegan diet is perfectly suited to help you obtain the 9 essential amino acids you need. A vegan diet has all the elements necessary to conduct a healthy food intake, while making sure your body absorbs all the amino acids it needs without having to resort to animal products. 

Your diet must be based on what’s known as complete proteins and amino acids, which can be found in a range of vegan foods. As long as you’re consuming those during the day, combined with healthy vegetables, nuts and fruits, and unprocessed whole foods, you’ll get all the nutrients you need. 

There’s a highly anticipated upcoming documentary called ‘Game Changers’ that showcases high-level athletes through their training process, and how switching to a plant-based diet helped them in improving their performance, as well as their general health. 

Concentrated goodness: essential amino acids as supplements

It’s true that all these essential amino acids can be found in food, but they can also be taken in the concentrated form of supplements.  Various health benefits can be found here:

  • The improvement of mood and sleep with tryptophan (as it’s needed for the production of serotonin, which is a regulator of mood and sleep behaviours)
  • The boosting of performance while exercising (as some amino acids are used to improve athletic performance and stimulate muscle recovery after exercise)
  • The prevention of muscle loss (which is a consequence of lack of bed rest)

Vitally Vegan’s protein powders are rich in amino acids, like leucine, isoleucine and valine, which help promote muscle growth. Our company strives to help our customers be as healthy as possible, and have a variety of protein powder combinations for any and every need you might have. Whether you need help in recovering your muscles after working out, or reduce your stress and improve your sleep, Vitally Vegan has the perfect amino acids combination for you. 

Vitally Vegan do what we can in the production and distribution of our range of vegan protein powders. If you have any questions about our mission and passion for the environment, please do get in touch.

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