What Are Amino Acids?

April 05, 2022 2 min read


  • Amino acids are organic compounds that make up protein
  • There are three types of amino acids: essential, nonessential, and conditional.
  • As the building blocks of protein, amino acids are involved in a wide variety of bodily functions, including muscle growth.

Amino acids are organic compounds that come together to create proteins. 

Both plant and animal proteins are made up of about 20 amino acids, and all food proteins (other than gelatin) contain some of each.

When you eat protein, your body breaks the protein down into amino acids

There are three main types of amino acids: essential, nonessential, and conditional. 

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

Nonessential amino acids are those that the body can produce on its own. Nonessential amino acids include alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine, and tyrosine.

Conditional amino acids are produced only under specific circumstances, such as in times of stress or illness. Conditional amino acids include: arginine, cysteine, glutamine, tyrosine, glycine, ornithine, proline, and serine.

Solgar Amino Acid Collection

What do Amino Acids do?

Because amino acids play such a foundational role, they are involved in many chemical processes that help maintain your body’s normal functions. 

Amino acids are involved in almost every system throughout the body, including:

  • Assisting in the creation and growth of muscles, connective tissue, and skin.
  • Helping maintain muscle tone and tissue strength.
  • Provide the crucial building blocks for protein.
  • Help support protein metabolism in muscle tissue.
  • Maintaining healthy hair, skin, and nails.
  • Necessary for health and wellness & much more.

Sources of Amino Acids

Although your body can produce some amino acids on its own, others — specifically, essential amino acids — must come from food or supplements.

The best sources of essential amino acids are animal proteins such as meat, dairy, eggs, and poultry. These foods are considered to be “complete proteins” because they contain all nine essential amino acids. 

Because most plant-based sources of proteins are missing at least one amino acid, they are considered “incomplete proteins.” 

For this reason, it is suggested that vegetarians and vegans combine plant-based foods, such as beans and rice, or eat a variety of plant-based foods that supply a good amount of protein including nuts, seeds, and legumes.

One exception is quinoa, which is a great, vegan-friendly source of all nine essential amino acids.

Solgar Amino Acids Vitamins & Supplements

Food supplements should not be used instead of a varied balanced diet & healthy lifestyle.

For references, click here

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