Amino acids are the 'building blocks' of the body. They are the molecular units that the body uses to make up the exact proteins it needs. They are essential for the repair and maintenance of organs, glands, muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin, hair, and nails. They form antibodies to combat invading bacteria and viruses, build nucleoproteins (RNA and DNA), carry oxygen throughout the body and participate in muscle activity. They also help make neurotransmitters - the chemicals that convey messages in the brain and they also help produce hormones such as insulin. Amino acids are related to energy, building muscle, weight loss, as well as mood and brain function.

There are around 80 amino acids found in nature and the human body requires 22 different amino acids for proper growth and function. It can make many of them itself from other amino acids. The rest are called essential amino acids because they must be present in our diet.

During digestion the proteins we eat are broken down into amino acids. Meat and dairy products contain all essential amino acids, but individual vegetable foods may contain only some of them. It is important, therefore, to eat a variety of fruits, nuts, cereals, vegetables and legumes that provides all the essential amino acids if you are a vegetarian. Others who could also benefit from an amino acid supplement are people with allergies, stress-related fatigue, or hypoglycemia.

Trouble digesting food could be a signal of an amino acid deficiency, which will lead to poor health due to your body's inability to absorb the nutrients it needs. An amino acid deficiency is usually caused by a diet low in protein. The level of certain amino acids can also drop due to trauma, stress infection, aging, medication effects and chemical imbalances within the body.

Certain amino acids taken as supplements may aid in fighting heart disease, lowering blood pressure and protecting against strokes. They may also help in treating cancer, reducing sugar cravings, building immunity, and protecting the body in various other ways.

Look for amino acid supplements prefixed by the letter L (such as L-arginine). These are more similar to the amino acids in the body than those prefixed by the letter D. (One exception is D-L phenylalanine, which treats chronic pain.)

Essential amino acids Non-essential amino acids
Histidine Alanine
Isoleucine Aspartic acid
Leucine Arginine
Lysine Citrulline
Methionine Glutamic acid
Cysteine Glycine
Phenylalanine Hydroxyglumatic acid
Tyrosine Hydroxyproline
Threonine Norleucine
Tryptophan Proline
Valine Serine


Take amino acid supplements at least half an hour before or after a meal - taking them when the stomach is empty eliminates the possibility that they will compete with the amino acids in high-protein foods. The only exception to this is glutathione (a combination of glutamic acid, cysteine, and glycine), which should be taken with food to prevent stomach irritation. The active forms of vitamin B-complex enhance the function of amino acids.


Don't take arginine if you have genital herpes or are prone to cold sores. This amino acid can trigger outbreaks of these disorders.

Don't drink milk at the same time you take lysine.

Don't take more than the recommended dose - certain amino acids can be toxic in excessive amounts, causing nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

To be safe, never take individual amino acid supplements for longer than three months unless you are under the direction of a practitioner familiar with their use.

If you take an individual amino acid supplement for longer than one month, take it with an amino acid complex that contains a variety of amino acids. This will ensure that you get a proper balance of all the amino acids.
On Holiday
Anti Aging
Food and Toxins
Cold and Flu
Eating Right
Nutritional Medicine