Amino Acids

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Amino Acids

Amino acids are the chemical units, or “building blocks,” as they’re popularly called, making up proteins.

They’re also the end products of protein digestion.

Amino acids contain about 16% nitrogen.

Chemically, this is what distinguishes them from the other two basic nutrients, sugars and fatty acids, which don’t contain nitrogen.

To understand how vital amino acids are, you must understand how essential proteins are to life.

It’s protein that provides the structure for all living things.

Every living organism, from the largest animal to the tiniest microbe, is composed of protein.

Protein participates in the vital chemical processes sustaining life.

Proteins are a necessary part of every living cell in your body.

Next to water, protein makes up the greatest portion of our body weight.

Protein substances make up your muscles, ligaments, tendons, organs, glands, nails, hair, and many vital body fluids, and are essential for the growth of bones.

The enzymes and hormones regulating all bodily processes are proteins.

Proteins help to regulate your body’s water balance and maintain the proper internal pH.

They help exchange nutrients between fluids and tissues, blood and lymph.

A deficiency of protein can upset your body’s fluid balance, causing edema.

Proteins also form the structural basis of chromosomes, through which genetic information is passed from parents to offspring.

The genetic code contained in each cell’s DNA is actually information for how to make that cell’s proteins.

Proteins are chains of amino acids linked together by peptide bonds.

Each individual type of protein is composed of a specific group of amino acids in a specific chemical arrangement.

It’s the particular amino acids present and the way they’re linked together in sequence that gives the proteins their unique functions and characters.

Each protein in your body is tailored for a specific need; proteins aren’t interchangeable.

The proteins making up the human body aren’t gotten directly from your diet.

Rather, dietary protein is broken down into amino acids, which your body then uses to build the specific proteins it needs.

So, it’s amino acids rather than protein that are essential nutrients.

In addition to those combining to form your body’s proteins, there are other amino acids important in metabolic functions.

Some can be similar to (or by-products of) the protein-building amino acids.

Some act as neurotransmitters, the chemicals carrying information from one nerve cell to another.

Certain amino acids are therefore necessary for your brain to receive and send messages.

Unlike many other substances, neurotransmitters are able to pass through the blood-brain barrier.

This is a kind of defensive shield protecting your brain from toxins and foreign invaders that may be circulating in your bloodstream.

The endothelial cells making up the walls of the capillaries in your brain are much more tightly meshed together than are those of capillaries elsewhere in your body.

This prevents many substances, especially water-based substances, from getting through the capillary walls into brain tissue.

Because certain amino acids can pass through this barrier, they can be used by your brain to communicate with nerve cells elsewhere in your body.

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Dick and Lenay

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