Why are Amino Acids so important?

Posted by Tom Macek on

What are amino acids?

Twenty percent of the human body is made up of protein. Protein plays a crucial role in almost all biological processes and amino acids are the building blocks of it.
A large proportion of our cells, muscles and tissue is made up of amino acids, meaning they carry out many important bodily functions, such as giving cells their structure. They also play a key role in the transport and the storage of nutrients. Amino acids have an influence on the function of organs, glands, tendons and arteries. They are furthermore essential for healing wounds and repairing tissue, especially in the muscles, bones, skin and hair as well as for the removal of all kinds of waste deposits produced in connection with the metabolism.

The importance of amino acids for human well-being is on the increase.

Meirion Jones, a well-known BBC journalist, reported that contrary to years ago, many doctors have now confirmed that a supply of amino acids (also by way of nutritional supplements) can have positive effects.
Jones and Erdmann explain the changes in medical opinion in the following way: “Unfortunately, in the real world countless factors are working to prevent our bodies from receiving a full and balanced supply of these all-important substances. Among these factors are the pollution caused by burning fossil-fuels, the hormones fed to cattle, the intensive use of fertilizers in agriculture, and even habits such as smoking and drinking, all of which can prevent our bodies from fully using what we eat. Worse still is the amount of nutrition that is lost from our food through processing before we actually get to eat it…By providing the body with optimal nutrition, amino acids help to replace what is lost and, in doing so, promote well-being and vitality.”1
A recent study from Germany carried out by the DAK has revealed that older people in particular are more prone to suffering from malnutrition. “If the body is lacking in the minimum energy and nutrients, the body cannot carry out its bodily and mental functions. Without the necessary vitamins, proteins (amino acids), trace elements and minerals, there is a risk of debilities and metabolic disorders which can have serious consequences.”2

The amino acid pool has to be right

Jones believes that almost every disease caused by civilization is a result of imbalances in our metabolism. The amino-acid pool is jointly responsible for achieving a balanced metabolism.
The amino acid pool describes the entire amount of available free amino acids in the human body. The size of the pool amounts to around 120 to 130 grams in an adult male. If we consume protein in the diet, the protein in the gastrointestinal tract is broken down into the individual amino acids and then put back together again as new protein. This complex biological process is called protein biosynthesis. The entire amino acid pool is transformed, or ‘exchanged’ three to four times a day. This means that the body has to be supplied with more amino acids, partly by protein biosynthesis, partly by the diet or through consumption of suitable dietary supplements.
The objective is that the amino acid pool is complete and maintained in the correct combination. If the one or more amino acids are not available in sufficient quantities, the production of protein is weakened and the metabolism may only function in a limited way.
Older people are not the only ones who this applies to, for young people can also be affected by the negative consequences of a limited supply of nutrients. These include weight problems, hair loss, skin problems, sleep disorders, mood swings and/or erectile disorders but also arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular imbalance (high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure) or even menopausal complaints.

Sources

1Erdmann, R. & Jones , M., (1987) The Amino Revolution, First Fireside Edition, p2.
2DAK-Studie: Immer mehr Senioren mit Mangelernährung in Klinik, Hamburger Abendblatt (Dezember 2011)

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