Amino acids are an essential part of proteins, which are the building blocks of the body. Proteins are “large, complex molecules that are critical for the normal functioning of the human body” and are essential for the “structure, function, and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs.” Since proteins are made up of hundreds of amino acids they are essential for the body to function.
In all, there are twenty amino acids: alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, methionine, phenylalanine, proline, serine, threonine, tryptophan, tyrosine, and valine. Of these 20, the human body naturally produces ten, and the other ten must be supplied by food or amino acid supplements.
The ten amino acids that the body does not produce are known as essential amino acids. The essential amino acids are arginine (only required by younger individuals), histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.
What Foods Have Essential Amino Acids?
Essential amino acids are found in many foods. They are contained in foods with high amounts of protein, such as meats (like steak, beef, chicken, and pork) and other animal products, like eggs and milk. However, there are also many plant-based foods that also contain a high amount of essential amino acids. Keep reading to find out which foods contain which amino acids.
- Leucine: Find it in seaweed, pumpkins, peas, soy, kidney beans, figs, apples, blueberries, olives, and more
- Isoleucine: Find it in rye, soy, chocolate, lentils, brown rice, cabbage, chia seeds, spinach, quinoa, apples, kiwis, and more
- Lysine: Find it in beans, watercress, hemp seeds, spirulina, parsley, almonds, cashews, and more
- Methionine: Find it in sunflower seed butter, Brazil nuts, oats, wheat, figs, cacao, raisins, and more
- Phenylalanine: Find it in spirulina, pumpkin, rice, avocado, almonds, leafy greens, most berries, seeds, and more
- Threonine: Watercress, spirulina, hemp and chia seeds, sunflower seeds, sunflower butter, almonds, avocados, figs, raisins, and more
- Tryptophan: Oats, oat bran, watercress, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, beets, asparagus, mushrooms, all lettuces, celery, chickpeas, onions, oranges, lentils, and more
- Valine: Beans, spinach, broccoli, whole grains, sprouted seeds and grains, cranberries, apricots, and more
- Histidine: Rice, wheat, rye, cantaloupe, buckwheat, potatoes, cauliflower, corn, and more
Essential amino acids are necessary. If you are not getting enough of even one of the essential amino acids through your diet, then amino acid supplements can help provide you with the amino acids your body needs. Similarly, you may choose to use an amino acid supplement for non-essential amino acids (produced by the body).
NHC’s Picks for Amino Acid Supplement
There are hundreds of amino acid supplements available, but below are some of the best available on the market today. Experience any of the following products, or consult with a dietitian or other professional nutritional or medical professional to see what is best for your needs.
NAC is a cellular antioxidant support that supports the body’s immune system and promotes healthy lung tissue. Each capsule in this body contains 600 mg. of NAC, and no artificial additives, allergens, GMOs, environmental contaminants or added excipients.
Pure-L-Serine is a non-essential amino acid that may help with challenges in the health and function of connective tissue. Serine also helps to improve the flexibility of membranes and supports the elasticity of connective tissues.
Tyrosine is an amino acid that supports glandular function and mental awareness. Because it is involved in producing dopamine and norepinephrine may also support a positive mood and response to stress.
Theanine is an amino acid used to support relaxation and calm without daytime drowsiness. The theanine in this supplement is similar to what you might find in green tea leaves.
This amino-acid based human growth hormone supplement is used to support lean muscular strength. Athletes, weightlifters, strength trainers, and anyone who wants to support muscle mass built through exercise may benefit from this supplement that supports healthy production of growth hormone.