Essential Amino Acids

Home / Uncategorized / Essential Amino Acids

what are essential amino acids

Our bodies are made up of many different types of tissue and protein. Whether it’s muscle, skin, or other organs, each of them need special building blocks that come from other proteins. Consuming these proteins will grant your body amino acids. Amino acids are those special building blocks that your entire body needs to function. They range from your nervous system, to assisting cellular and muscular development, general health, and even your mood.

There’s no question in their importance. While there are hundreds of amino acids in the world, there are only twenty that need to be in your body to function properly. Each one has its own specific function, but even vegetarians and vegans need their intake of protein. Luckily, not only can you get these amino acids from meats, but also vegetables, beans, nuts, and soy, or from supplements. If you don’t get enough, you could suffer from protein deficiency.

Protein Deficiency

The essential amino acids are much more important for your body, considering they cannot be made in your body. They must be obtained from outside sources, whether they’re from supplements or food. Not obtaining these amino acids in some way can lead to mood swings, fatigue, and most importantly, protein deficiency.

Protein deficiency can be detrimental to anyone’s health. It can make anyone miserable and is easy to fall to this state if one isn’t careful. While vast amounts of the amino acids aren’t required, even a bit of missing meat can cause one to falter. Protein deficiency causes you to go through:

  • Moody feelings
  • Sluggishness
  • Decreased fat burning
  • Insomnia
  • Feelings of constipation
  • Slow healing

As said above, each amino acid has its own role to play, especially with muscle development and recovery if you work out. The less protein you get, the more problems you’ll have. Then again, protein overdose is a real thing as well, especially if you have liver or kidney problems. It’s not nearly as bad, but your liver and kidneys can be overworked and you could be feeling constipated or gain weight more quickly.

The Essential Amino Acids

Some of these amino acids are made in your body. These are the nonessential amino acids. Alternatively, some are not. These are called the essential amino acids. Of the twenty amino acids, only nine are essential. The essential ones are those that cannot be made by your body. They are not naturally occurring or synthesized in your body, so you must consume them from food or supplements. These amino acids and daily requirements for adults are:

  • Histidine (14mg/kg)
  • Isoleucine (19mg/kg)
  • Lysine (42mg/kg)
  • Methionine (19mg total)
  • Phenylalanine (33mg total)
  • Thereonine (20mg/kg)
  • Tryptophan (5mg/kg)
  • Valine (4mg/kg)

While these amounts are normal for an average adult per kilogram of weight, children generally need 10% more and infants need 20% more. This is why it’s so important for kids to eat their meat and veggies! Infants will get their amino acids from their mother’s breast milk or baby formula.

The Sources

Most of the essential amino acids come from meat, but there are lots of other options that you can have if you’re not a fan of a specific type or are a vegetarian. To get these crucial proteins, there are some that have more amino acids than others. Either way, getting a few proteins into each day will get you far.

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Chicken
  • Lean Meats (like deer, elk, etc.)
  • Fish
  • Seafood
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • And most things that fall under these.

As for plant-based amino acids, there are plenty from you to choose from if you’re a vegetarian or vegan. These are:

  • Soybeans (Tofu, Edamame, etc.)
  • Most other beans
  • Quinoa
  • Nuts
  • Grain germ
  • Rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Quorn
  • Hummus
  • Peanut butter


Amino acids that the body needs can be divided into two categories: nonessential and essential. While the essential amino acids are necessary to get from food and supplements, nonessential ones are just as important. You don’t have to worry about it, though—your body makes the nonessential amino acids. However, if your body isn’t making enough, it will need the amino acids from elsewhere.

The essential amino acids are easy enough to get into your body as long as you add the recommended daily proteins to your diet each day. At least one protein per meal is sufficient. Think about adding an egg to your breakfast, a bean to your lunch, and a sausage or two with your supper. If you’re bulking, you’re going to need a lot anyway!