Health Glossary - For Everyone

Amino Acids
  print page print this page   Email email this page





What are amino acids

Amino acids are the building blocks of all protein foods.

Once protein in foods have been digested in the stomach and intestines, they are broken down to their basic structure - the amino acids that make them up. These amino acids are then repackaged by the body and are used as a vital substance in all the cells of the body.

Amino acids are basically chains of: a central carbon plus hydrogen, an amino group and an acid group attached to it.

Amino acids are normally either essential or non-essential amino acids. There are 9 essential amino acids and 14 non-essential amino acids.

As the name suggests, essential amino acids are necessary to sustain life and must be taken in each day. Non-essential amino acids are not vital as they can be either made from other amino acids or by the body from other substances.

Some non-essential amino acids can become essential if the body is ill, run down or cannot get enough of them in the diet. Taurine, generally a non-essential amino acids, becomes essential for babies as their bodies cannot yet produce their own.


^ top

Important amino acid facts

^ top



Why amino acids are important

Amino acids are necessary for the following main functions:

There are other various roles for amino acids in the body.


^ top


Last reviewed: 14 January 2007 || Last updated: 21 August 2007


Related Articles

^ top



More information

To learn more, go to the the following web sites:


NOTE: Mega doses of any type of vitamin, mineral, amino acid or herbal supplement cannot cure illnesses and in fact can be very dangerous and produce toxic side effects and interfere with medicine you are taking. Always ensure you consult your doctor before taking any type of complementary supplements.
Disclaimer: This guide is not intended to be used for diagnostic or prescriptive purposes. For any treatment or diagnosis of illness, please see your doctor.


^ top