Amino Acids FAQ

What are amino acids?

What are the twenty kinds of amino acids?

What are essential amino acids?

What are Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)?

What is the relationship between amino acids and protein?

Where does the name Amino Acids derive from?

What roles do amino acids serve?

What effects do amino acids have on athletes?

What happens if amino acids are deficient?

Do we get overweight if we take in too many amino acids?

Is it true that the more amino acids you take the better it is for you?

How do you get the correct balance of amino acid intake?

Are amino acids taken from food sufficient?

What’s the best diet to ensure a good amino acid balance?

What is the difference between amino acid intake from food and from supplements?

Can we build muscle by taking amino acids?

Does a dope test check athletes for amino acids?

How do amino acids affect the taste of food?

When were amino acids discovered?

Why are amino acids said to be the source of life?

How are amino acids made?

Is it true that amino acids keep the skin and hair moist?

Shampoos and other products are often labeled with “combined with amino acids”. Do amino acids help remove dirt?

Are some amino acids are used as medical products?

Is it true that the ingredients of drip infusions are amino acids?


 

What are amino acids?

Amino acids represent the source of life.

Amino acids are the oldest nutrients that have existed on earth. They have been used as the source of life over the period from primordial life to the present stage of evolution marked by the appearance of man.

Amino acids are the oldest and most important nutrients. There are two theories about the origin of amino acids. The first is that they came from the universe and the second is that they came into existence on the ancient earth.

Amino acids account for 20% of the human body.

Water accounts for about 60% of the human body.

About half of the remaining part consists of amino acids (including proteins).

Amino acids perform various important functions for the body and serve as the materials for the body’s cells, hormones, and enzymes.

Back to Top


What are the twenty kinds of amino acids?

 Valine

 Leucine

 Isoleucine

 Alanine

 Arginine

 Glutamine

 Lysine

 Aspartic acid

 Glutamate

 Proline

 Cysteine

 Threonine

 Methionine

 Histidine

 Phenylalanine

 Tyrosine

 Tryptophan

 Asparagine

 Glycine

 Serine

Essential Amino Acids:

 Valine

 Leucine

 Isoleucine

 Lysine

 Threonine

 Methionine

 Histidine

 Phenylalanine

 Tryptophan

Branched Chain Amino Acids:

 Valine

 Leucine

 Isoleucine

To find out more about the important functions each of the 20 amino acids have in the body click here

Back to Top


What are essential amino acids?

Proteins are made up of 20 kinds of amino acids. 9 of these 20 must be taken from food since they are not synthesized in the body. Therefore, they are called “essential amino acids”. It is necessary to compensate these “essential amino acids” from food in well-balanced, appropriate amounts.

Back to Top


What are Branched Chain Amino Acids?

Muscle tissues are comprised of two proteins, actin and myosin. The main components of the two proteins are leucine, isoleucine, and valine, which are called branched chain amino acid (BCAAs) because of their molecular structures.

BCAAs account for about 35% of the essential amino acids contained in myoproteins. Replenishment of BCAAs increases the raw materials for muscle tissues, contributing to muscle building.

When we do strenuous exercise for a lengthy period, the body begins to decompose proteins and consume BCAAs in order to compensate for insufficient energy sources. It is possible that the post-competition blood level of BCAAs may be decreased by as much as 20%, because of intramuscular BCAAs consumption during long periods of exercise. However, we can reduce muscle damage and inhibit the lowering of muscular strength by replenishing BCAAs timely, before or during physical activity. Taking BCAAs preserves energy sources and helps maintain stamina. Also, by taking BCAAs immediately after physical activity or before going to bed, muscle recovery is improved and muscle soreness prevented.

BCAAs also function to suppress the production of lactic acid, a substance that causes fatigue. Muscular fatigue occurs from continuous exercise when the level of lactic acid in the blood increases. This results in the pH in muscles being decreased, causing difficulty in muscle contraction. However, replenishment of BCAAs will inhibit the elevation of the lactic acid level in the blood even during strenuous exercise.

BCAAs serve as a critical source of muscle energy as well as nutrition for muscle repair. In fact, the very fibers that make up muscles are themselves “constructed” of these BCAAs. Unlike other amino acids, which are mostly metabolized in the liver, BCAAs are metabolized in the muscle tissue itself. Without a sufficient supply, your muscles begin to feel tired and sore during exercise. In contrast, a plentiful supply of BCAAs makes you feel energized and helps muscles recover and rebuild much faster.

Back to Top


What is the relationship between amino acids and protein?

Body proteins are made up of 20 kinds of amino acids.

About 500 kinds of amino acids have been discovered in nature. However, only 20 kinds serve as the constituents of our body proteins. Complicated combinations of these 20 kinds produce as many as one hundred thousand kinds of various proteins.

When we eat food such as meat, fish, and cereals, the proteins contained in it are first degraded to the 20 kinds of amino acids, and then reassembled into proteins in the body.

Back to Top


Where does the name Amino Acids derive from?

It was named amino acid as a generic term referring to substances having both an amino group and a carboxyl (carboxylic acid) group within their structures.

Back to Top


What roles do amino acids serve?

Amino acids play active roles in a wide variety of fields such as the taste of food, sports, medical care, beauty care, and health care.

Back to Top


What effects do amino acids have on athletes?

Amino acids constitute myoproteins and serve as an energy source during exercise. Therefore, athletes use amino acids for the purposes of nutrition and recovery from fatigue. Amino acids are absorbed faster than proteins, so they can easily be replenished during physical activity.

For more on amino acids and their role in sports click here

Back to Top


What happens if amino acids are deficient?

If amino acids run short, this may lead to growth failure. However, amino acids do not run short as long as you have a normal diet.

Back to Top


Do we get overweight if we take in too many amino acids?

Amino acids have the same calorie value as glucose at 4 kcal/g. However, since just a small amount of amino acids is taken from amino acid supplements, it is usually impossible to get overweight due to excessive intake of amino acids.

Back to Top


Is it true that the more amino acids you take the better it is for you?

Amino acids taken in excess are broken down and excreted from the body. However, excessive intake of any nutrients, including amino acids, becomes a burden on the body.

Back to Top


How do you get the correct balance of amino acid intake?

The preferable balance of amino acids we should take is defined by international institutions. In accordance with these patterns, we need to supplement the relatively least amino acid, which is called the limiting amino acid.

Generally, animal proteins such as egg proteins are known to have high amino acid scores, while plant proteins such as wheat and corn have low amino acid scores.

Egg proteins have an amino acid score of 100%. The amino acid balance of egg is said to be the best of all proteins. Amino acid scores for wheat proteins and polished rice are 42% and 61%, respectively.

Lysine is known to be the most insufficient essential amino acid in these both foods.

Back to Top


Are amino acids taken from food sufficient?

Amino acids are sufficient as long as you have a normal diet. However, if you have an unbalanced diet or are on excessive one, amino acids may become deficient or lose their balance. When you do strenuous exercise, specific amino acids are consumed as energy. So it is very effective to replenish amino acids on such an occasion.

Back to Top


What’s the best diet to ensure a good amino acid balance?

In order to have well-balanced diet of essential amino acids, it is advisable to eat a variety of foods including bread, cereal or rice, fruit and vegetables, meat, poultry fish, dairy products, etc. in well-balanced proportions. In other words, a well balanced diet is key.

Back to Top


What is the difference between amino acid intake from food and from supplements?

Proteins take a long time to be digested and absorbed by the body. They first must be broken down into amino acids in the intestinal tract and then absorbed by the body. In contrast, pure amino acids are absorbed directly, and therefore absorbed faster than proteins. The function of amino acids after absorption is no different whether intake is from food, tablets or drinks.

Back to Top


Can we build muscle by taking amino acids?

Amino acids enhance the effect of exercise and serve as the raw material for muscles, so body builders, weight lifters and other athletes who need to build muscle can benefit from taking them. However, only taking amino acids without any exercise or training will not increase your muscles.

For more on amino acids and their role in sports click here

Back to Top


Does a dope test check athletes for amino acids?

Since amino acids are originally contained in the body, they pose no problems in a dope test.

For more on amino acids and their role in sports click here

Back to Top


How do amino acids affect the taste of food?

Combinations of amino acids and their respective tastes are a key determinant in the taste of food.

Relationships between amino acids and taste have been explored since the discovery of glutamate as an Umami ingredient.

Determination of amino acids contained in foods revealed that the taste we perceive largely depends on the kinds and amounts of the amino acids.

To learn what Umami is click here

Back to Top


When were amino acids discovered?

In 1806 an amino acid was first discovered from asparagus shoots in France and was named asparagine. After this, cysteine, glycine, and leucine were found from urinary calculus, gelatin, and muscles/wool, respectively. All the protein-constituting amino acids were discovered by 1935.

In 1866 glutamate, which is familiar to us, was isolated by Ritthausen (Germany) from gluten, a wheat protein. In 1908 Dr. Kikunae Ikeda (Japan) discovered that glutamate is the Umami component of sea tangle. After amino acids were found to be responsible for the secret of deliciousness, the various properties of amino acids were studied in Japan in great depth.

Back to Top


Why are amino acids said to be the source of life?

Many theories have been presented to explain the origin of life: Some claim that life is of extraterrestrial origin, some believe that life began in the atmosphere, and some hold that the sea is the cradle of life. In all cases, however, amino acids are said to be the source of life.

Some meteorites that collided with the earth after a long journey from the remotest corner of the universe contained amino acids. Trace amounts of glycine, alanine, glutamate and alanine were detected in a meteorite that struck Murchison (Australia) in 1969. The amino acids in meteorites are considered to be a trace of life elsewhere in the universe. A trilobite fossil dating back 500 million years was found to contain the amino acid alanine. Science continues its search for an answer to the intriguing mystery of the origin of life by studying the amino acids detected in fossils and meteorites.

Amino acids are important substances that create life itself.

Back to Top


How are amino acids made?

Amino acids are made from natural materials.

The amino acids used in amino acid products are mainly manufactured by the fermentation method using natural materials, similar to yogurt, beer, vinegar, miso (bean paste), soy sauce, etc.

For more detail on how amino acids are made click here

Back to Top


Is it true that amino acids keep the skin and hair moist?

Natural moisturizing factors (NMF) are contained in the skin, preventing damage from dryness and irritants. More than half of these NMFs are made up of amino acids and their derivatives.

Amino acids are important components for moisturizing the skin. They are also related to the moisture of hair.

The use of shampoos/treatment agents containing some kinds of amino acids improves moisturizing capacity and makes combing hair eaiser.

Back to Top


Shampoos and other products are often labeled with “combined with amino acids”. Do amino acids help remove dirt?

Amino acid-based cleansing products are manufactured by combining amino acids with dirt-removing agents. It is possible to produce weakly acidic cleansing ingredients.

Back to Top


Are some amino acids are used as medical products?

Amino acids perform various functions in the body. Some amino acids are found to be pharmaceutically effective for diseases and are used as medical products.

Some amino acids are also utilized as pharmaceutical intermediates.

For more detail on amino acids and health and medical click here

Back to Top


Is it true that the ingredients of drip infusions are amino acids?

Drip infusions do not always contain amino acids. However, amino acids are included as indispensable components in high calorie infusions (Hyperalimentation) for post-operative patients unable to take sufficient nourishment orally.

For more detail on amino acids and health and medical click here

Back to Top