Amino acids: an acid test of our health.

After water, protein makes up the greatest part of body weight. An inherent part of every living cell in the body, proteins are essential for the growth, repair and healing of bones, tissues and cells, or to maximise muscle growth in exercise. However, the body cannot directly use proteins found in foods, rather it depends upon amino acids, the chemical units that make up protein. Dietary protein is broken down into its constituent amino acids, which become the essential nutrients. In fact, vitamins and minerals absorbed and assimilated in the body can only become effective if necessary amino acids are present.

A lack of protein will lead the body to drawing on its own tissue proteins, including healthy muscles, to meet its need for amino acids. This can lead to hair loss, skin problems, reduced energy levels and depression. Other problems can include sleeping disorders and poor general health. Protein deficient junk food diets may spark more serious symptoms of amino acid deficiency, including obesity, malnutrition and a build-up of wastes in the bloodstream.

Good sources of essential amino acids are: meat, fish, poultry, eggs, buckwheat, quinoa, soy, beans and dairy products.

A balanced intake of amino acids is important daily, as they are not stored in the body, but before considering amino acid supplementation always consult a doctor or Registered Dietician.

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