Amino acids – which also called the building blocks of life – have a gigantic role in our lives as well as the general state of our health.
Amino acids are classified into more than 20, although in fact, there are hundreds. They are taken for the purpose of enhancing recovery from illness, concentration, energy, as well as general performance.
This is how amino acids are classified:
- Essential and non-essential amino acids
Essential Amino Acids – the body cannot make them, so they must be in the diet. These are acids such as for instance arginine, lysine, leucine, tryptophan, etc.
Nonessential Amino Acids – the body is usually able to produce the following amino acids: alanine, aspartic Acid, glutamine, serine, etc.
Conditionally Essential – These amino acids are essential if your body is under extreme stress, and they are obtained from food or supplements: arginine, tyrosine, taurine, etc.
- Classification as per the charge and polarization of the side chains (R-Group) – Nonpolar or Hydrophobic Side Chains: alanine, phenylalanine, proline, tryptophan, etc.
- Glycogenic or/and Ketogenic
Glycogenic: these amino acids are able to be converted over into glucose, and they are as follows: arginine, aspartic acid, glycine, etc.
Ketogenic: these amino acids have the ability of conversion into ketones, in contrast to glucogenic amino acids, which are converted into glucose. Ketone formation entails the breaking down of fats as well as the forming of an energy source. Ketogenic amino acids are those organic acids which produce ketone bodies after a chemical alteration of the carbon skeleton. Ketone bodies are 3 chemicals which are made as by-products when fatty acids are broken down for the purpose of producing energy. Even though the term ‘bodies’ is used, these are soluble compounds and not particles. Ketogenesis implies any kind of production of these mixtures, and it is required in small quantities for the body to function well. When there is a surplus of ketone bodies, then a condition that can be quite dangerous occurs, by the name of ketosis.
These compounds are the following: leucine and lysine.
Leucine is an essential acid, meaning it must be obtained from the diet. It is the most plentiful of the 3 branched chain amino acids in muscles and is distinctive as they are the single amino acid which is burned down by muscles in order to be used as fuel. However, recent research has proven that this amino acid has several roles which do not only provide the material to build up muscle. Interestingly, it also stimulates the synthesis of proteins to help build up muscle. The food sources of leucine are lentils, soybeans, beef, salmon and peanuts.
Lysine is also an essential amino acid, meaning the body is not capable of producing it but it is required for the organism as it is essential for proper growth. It also has a key role in the producing of carnitine, which is a nutrient in control of converting fatty acids into energy and helping reduce cholesterol. Also, this amino acid seems to help the body take in calcium, and thus it plays an important part in the forming of collagen, which is important for bones and connective tissues, including the tendons, the skin, and cartilage.
A lack of this acid can produce nausea, fatigue, dizziness, appetite loss, anxiety, anemia, and reproductive disorders. For vegans, legumes (which are peas, beans, and lentils) seem to be the best sources of lysine.
There are also amino acids which are both ketogenic and glucogenic: phenylalanine, tyrosine, tryptophan, etc.
- Amino Acid Functions
The functional method of understanding and classifying amino acids is founded on the “Glycogenic vs. Ketogenic” system and clarifies amino acid functions.