Amino Acid Supplements – Benefits and Side Effects

Amino acid supplements are something of a miracle supplement that can improve many aspects of our health in a number of ways. While lots of supplements claim to have far reaching effects and improve our mind and body, amino acids actually can and do so quite effectively.

The reason for this is that amino acids are the ‘building blocks’ that make up all of our tissues and materials. This includes our muscle, skin, flesh and bones, as well as the many chemicals that run through our body – such as the digestive enzymes and hormones. They are ‘carbon compounds’ and they are the building blocks that make up protein. They are crucial for human life to exist, and without them our body would gradually degrade and fall apart.

Of course we get amino acids naturally in our diet, and particularly through the various animal sources of meat such as pork, chicken, beef etc. The problem is that unfortunately most people don’t get enough amino acids, and those that they do consume are not good enough quality.

Each amino acid has a different set of jobs to perform and is utilized in the body in different ways. If one type of amino acid is missing then, there will be jobs that the body won’t be able to perform as well, and repairs that will go unmade. The benefit of amino acid supplements depends on the specific acids contained in the product – and between them they have far reaching benefits for the entire system. Taking a supplement can improve mood, muscle tone and strength, skin and hair, digestion, memory and cognitive performance, energy, healing and more.

Types of Amino Acids

There are many different types of amino acids – currently around 20 that are known by science (though claims range from 21 to 27 that are used by humans), but 8 of these are essential in that they can’t be produced by the body – tryptophan, lysine, methionine, valine, leucine, lsoleucine, threonine and phenhylalanine. It is essential that we get these in our diet so that our body can make various repairs, produce necessary chemicals and avoid illness.

If you have a specific health problem, or sports/self-improvement target, then you may use a specific amino acid in order to combat the problem. For instance threonine can help with antibody production and so can help to improve the immune system, while tryptophan is a precursor for serotonin and melatonin – and so can help to moderate sleep patterns.

If you are looking for just general health benefits then a mixed amino acid supplement is most likely what you will use. However these too vary in terms of their exact mixes. Not only will the precise amino acids being used in the product vary, but so too will their formation. ‘BCAAs’ for instance are ‘Branched Chain Amino Acids’ and these are formations of multiple connected amino acids. These are closer to the format that they are used as in the body and as such they can more quickly and easily be used by the body and will be more ‘bioavailable’.

Downsides of Amino Acids

Amino acids as mentioned are simply the building blocks of protein. Thus they are naturally in our diet anyway, and unlikely to cause any side effect. If you overdose on amino acids then usually these will simply pass through the system. In some cases however side effects can occur from overdosing depending on the amino acid. For instance too much tyrosine is known to cause restlessness and anxiety, while others might cause frequent bowel movements. In general using amino acid supplements on top of a regular diet in the directed manner should cause no side effects.

1 comment

  1. Jackie Reply
    September 4, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    Great article — right to the point!

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