The importance of protein in a healthy diet is well known to nutritional scientists, and widely understood by the general populace. Indeed, every bodily system is directly or indirectly supported by protein. More recently, however, the motivation for individuals to select protein-rich foods has been fueled by carbohydrate-free and carbohydrate-reduced diets, like the Atkins Diet, South Beach Diet and Isometric Diet.
Via all these diet plans, millions of people are vigilantly scanning food labels, and asking pertinent health questions when eating out. Added to this growing amount of protein-aware men and women are, of course, the countless bodybuilders, powerlifters and athletes that have shown for centuries the irreplaceable value of protein in building and maintaining muscle. As impressive and uplifting as it is to see that more people than ever before are “protein-conscious”, there’s still more useful protein information to find out.
It’s well past time to bring an understanding of amino acids into this protein knowledge base. Many people — understandably — don’t recognize that amino acids aren’t acids as they are conventionally understood. Rather, they’re the molecular components that comprise protein. They’re, quite simply, the very building blocks of protein.
These are organic compounds that contain two groups of molecules: amino (-NH2) and carboxyl (-COOH). There are a total of 19 amino acids in the human diet, of which 11 are non-essential, and the remaining 8 are essential. It’s this critically important fact — that there are two types of amino acids — which should be well known and acted upon by eaters everywhere. If the expression “amino acid” doesn’t readily suggest the link to protein, the terms “nonessential” amino acids and “essential” amino acids may be resources of even greater confusion.
The supplement is fond of the term “essential”, and uses it frequently to describe something which is important, or critical, or irreplaceable. For instance, a nutritionist may logically notify her individual that eating 50 grams of protein daily is essential; and by this she means “very important”. This exact same application of the expression does now, however, flow into the “essential” and “non essential” amino acid language.
Non-essential amino acids
These are those that the body can synthesize itself. This doesn’t imply, of course, the body is able to create these non-essential amino acids from nothing. Rather, it means that the bodys own internal lab can create these 11 nonessential amino acids from raw materials. It’s because of this that these 11 amino acids are known as non-essential; it has nothing to do with the term “important” or “unimportant”.
Essential amino acids
The remaining 8 amino acids are called essential; and this refers to the fact that they can’t be synthesized. The body can only receive them exogenously (eg. Understanding the significance of amino acids is critical, because a failure to consume foods that contain these essential amino acids may cause deficiency and adverse health consequences. When one considers the pain and distress caused by these four ill health effects, and the plethora of subsequent ailments they can excite, it becomes readily apparent that a knowledge of amino acids, and particularly “essential” amino acids, must be part of an intelligent eaters knowledge base.
While there has been some movement on the part of supplements companies to supply eaters with convenient and palatable sources of protein, many have put their advertising needs first and disregarded amino acids altogether. As a result of the omission, some eaters are now suffering from an “overdose” of protein. This is because what they’re eating might not supply them with the total, essential protein they need.
The only complete proteins around Earth are derived from milk, meat, poultry, fish and soy, and these foods aren’t found in our most common foods. There are, however, protein supplements which also provide proteins with the entire array of amino acids. The solution here is accessible and straightforward. Eaters must simply choose to consume foods and nutritional supplements offering a “complete” source of nourishment.
It follows that all 19 essential amino acids must be present including, obviously, that the”essential 8″ amino acids which the body can’t synthesize. There are a few businesses — though still obviously in the minority — which produce nutritional supplements that carefully make sure that each the amino acids are found. It’s notable that these businesses do not necessarily need to do this, since neither the Food and Drug Administration nor many customers are demanding this in their food labeling; at least, not yet. This is even more reason to laud those businesses which are putting people and nutrition first, and advertising a distant second.