The Ultimate Amino Acid Guide

The Ultimate Amino Acid Guide

Table of Contents



Deoxyribonucleic Acid. That’s a big name for something extremely complicated, but it’s what makes everything function in our bodies. Every strand in our cells tells each one what to do and how to function, how to replicate, and how our bodies react to things. While everyone is different by genome, much of our DNA is almost exactly the same, to the point of 99.9% similarity.

While everyone’s genome is different, there’s a specific sequence in which our bodies develop cells and tissues. The genome is a very complicated sequence of nucleic acids, so we won’t get into that. However, going further into our DNA, you can find one of the most important parts: amino acids. Amino acids are incredibly important and getting them will help your health tremendously.

What are amino acids?

Amino acids are the core building blocks of our bodies—they build protein, which builds our bodies. They are imbedded deep in our cells and they are replicated over and over again to have our body grow and keep healthy. The amino acids are sources of energy—the more we have in our bodies, the bigger the pool our DNA can pull from and absorb. They make our skin healthy, our hair shiny, and our weight manageable.

There are hundreds of amino acids that can be made and consumed by humans, but only 20 are crucial to your body’s production of proteins. Some of them are made by your DNA, but others you have to include in your diet. If you don’t, you’ll suffer from protein deficiency, which has dire consequences:

  • Trouble losing weight
  • Hair loss
  • Itchy or flaky skin
  • Swollen legs or feet
  • Weakened immune system
  • Muscle weakness
  • Increase in anxiousness
  • Trouble sleeping

As you can see, lack of amino acids can not only prevent you from losing weight, it can have a lot of discomforting side-effects. Amino acids are a very important part of everyone’s diet, and even if you’re trying to lose weight, protein is a must. It will assist in taking those pounds off and you won’t suffer from the effects of protein deficiency.

The Benefits of Amino Acids

Each of these amino acids has specific foods and supplements that can be added to your diet to get all the amino acids you need. Aside from avoiding protein deficiency, there are also plenty of benefits that come from adding them. As we’ve said already, your body needs amino acids to function—your entire body is made of amino acids in some way or another.

Weight Loss

While likely the most sought-after reason to get your amino acids in line, amino acids are great fat burners. With exercise and proper dieting of other nutrients and foods, weight loss will be amplified and the building muscles will continuously burn away fat and calories even when you’re not working out! If you want to lose weight faster, don’t believe those that tell you to avoid protein. While protein does build muscle, it will also burn away fat.

Build Muscle

While this may not be something you’re looking for, amino acids are found in protein to make more protein for your body. As such, your muscles will build from these amino acids as well, especially if you work out. If you use weights, the small tears in your muscles will be filled with these building blocks, steadily making them bigger. While men will usually build bigger muscles than women, women can also gain a curvier and stronger shape if this is your goal.

Strengthened Immune System

If you get sick easily, whether it’s from allergies, colds, or other sorts of infections, it may be because your immune system is lacking. With the addition of amino acids to your diet, your immune system will strengthen and it will be much more successful in blocking off these infections and illnesses. That isn’t to say it’s a guaranteed blocker, but it will most certainly help your cause.

Increased Energy

Have you been feeling tired to the point where you need multiple cups of coffee throughout the day? Maybe you need an energy drink or two. This may be because you are lacking in the essential amino acids. These proteins will not only assist you with your health, they will also give you a lot more energy to go about your day. It’s almost comparable to vitamin B.

Decreased Stress and Better Sleep

Due to the calming effects of one of the amino acids, your days and nights will get a lot better. While meditation is a great way to decrease stress, glutamine assists with relieving our stress levels and helps our body calm itself and assist in relaxation. This, in turn, causes our nights to become better considering these help it helps us fall asleep.

amino acid shrim

The 20 Amino Acids

Amino acids are very similar to each other, containing oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen. Each one has its own molecule, however, usually having a special element that makes the amino acid unique. While each amino acid is important and necessary for our body to function, there are nine specific ones that we have to worry about more than others, considering our body does not manufacture them. These are called the essential amino acids:

  • Histidine
  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan
  • Valine

The next amino acids are made by the body. These are called the nonessential amino acids:

  • Alanine
  • Asparagine
  • Aspartate
  • Glutamate

There are some amino acids that are made by the body, but only in certain times of need. These times can be certain stressful situations, illnesses, or trauma. These conditional amino acids are:

  • Arginine
  • Cysteine
  • Glutamine
  • Glycine
  • Proline
  • Serine
  • Tyrosine

Seems Like a Lot

While all of these are important, you don’t really have to remember them all. Let’s face it: these names are complete mumbo jumbo and you won’t be able to fit them in a daily conversation.

“Hey, did you get your dose of phenylalanine today?” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue! There are simple foods and supplements that you can take to fulfill your body’s need for these many amino acids.

Your body needs each one, so don’t try to skimp out on any of them. Remember, protein deficiency is a real thing and can happen to anyone if you don’t get your proper amount of amino acids. The bigger the pool of amino acids you have in your body from consumption, the easier it is for your body to process.

However, keep in mind that too much of a good thing can still be bad—in this case, you could overwork and damage your liver and kidneys. Consult a doctor if you’re unsure about taking supplements of amino acids.

The Essential Amino Acids

As said above, there are nine amino acids that the body cannot produce itself. These amino acids come from food or supplements that will assist your body in your daily life. One absolutely needs these amino acids to function and to stay away from protein deficiency, and even vegans and vegetarians need it. There’s no use in trying to avoid it.

Getting into each chemical makeup isn’t going to help much, but each amino acid has a special quality and serves a specific function in your body. Each listing will have its own foods to partake in and the amounts of it one needs. You can find many of the amino acids in specific types of proteins, but some food products are unique to its amino acid.


This amino acid is sometimes produced in adults from the other amino acids one consumes, but children and most adults need to get it exclusively from food. Histidine is specific to the nervous system. Nervous system cells have special bodies called the myelin sheath. This amino acid will strengthen these coats and will assist in the signals sent to your brain for better mental health.

Another benefit of histidine is possible relief from rheumatoid arthritis. If you or a loved one is experiencing aches in your bones and joints, some histidine supplements may assist them. It promotes lowered acidity in the blood and helps with healing. There are many other benefits like blood regulation and skeletal development, but lack of histidine can also have some dangerous effects.

In infants, lack of histidine can cause eczema, which is an inflammatory disease that causes red, itchy rashes that can make the infant very uncomfortable. A lack in this amino acid can also cause speech defects and mental retardation in some infants. In adults, lack of this amino acid can cause stiffness and joint pains.

The required daily dosage of histidine depends on age and body, but a good amount of this amino acid balances around 14mg per kilogram of weight. The best foods to get histidine from are beef, soya beans, chicken, wheat with germ, and salmon.


This amino acid is one of the three branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) that helps muscle recovery after workouts and cardio. Isoleucine is broken down to create energy in muscle tissue, assisting in reparations and healing through exercise or otherwise. It is required to create hemoglobin, which is necessary to transport oxygen with red blood cells. Similarly to histidine, isoleucine also assists in clotting injuries.

Breaking down glucose and sugars are what this amino acid is all about. If you want to lose more weight during exercise, this is one of your best friends. Not only will it break down those carbohydrates you may have consumed, it will also increase your energy output and endurance. This means harder workouts without getting too tired, more weight loss, and a healthier body.

Although it is great for healing muscle and recovery, it is still needed for the body to assist in its daily function. Deficiency in isoleucine can result in quite a few discomforting problems. Hypoglycemia-like symptoms can crop up, like dizziness, fatigue, depression, headaches, and irritability. While consuming this amino acid shouldn’t be seen as a cure to these conditions, it will certainly help with them.

The recommended daily value of isoleucine is around 19mg per 1 kilogram of bodyweight in adults. More is needed for children, up to about 28mg, and similarly, even more for infants. You can get isoleucine from many fish like tuna, snapper, or halibut. Chicken breast, turkey, and soy beans are great ways to get your daily intake of isoleucine as well.


This is another of the BCAA, which is a good source of muscle repair and recovery. Many consider this the “main” BCAA because it is the strongest of the three and is more active in recovery than the other two. It is a direct stimulant to muscle protein synthesis. You’ll hear about this amino acid mostly through whey protein shakes or flavor enhancer.

The biggest benefits of leucine are its muscle recovery and synthesizing, of course. However, it also provides multiple other benefits like assisting with hormone balance, keeping muscle protein from breaking down, among other things. It also helps with weight loss in the sense that it helps produce a hormone that helps you feel more satiated and less hungry when it comes to food.

While it isn’t made by the body, it is rather difficult to be deficient in leucine. Almost all proteins have leucine in it, so there’s not much one has to worry about. If you do somehow become leucine deficient, similar traits of hypoglycemia can occur. Dizziness is a big factor, as well as confusion, irritability, and fatigue. What you have to worry about is leucine overdoses, which can increase insulin and gastrointestinal discomfort and distress.

The daily amount of leucine is about 42mg per kilogram divided across your meals of the day. It is a bigger debate today of how much should be consumed, but this is the current recommended daily requirement. Whey is the best way to get your daily value of leucine, but you can also get it from all meats, including beef, chicken, cheese, seafood, and beans.


This amino acid is used in different ways, including being put in medicine to help cold sores and reduce the Herpes virus. It plays a major role for your bones, considering it assists in absorbing calcium. It also helps recover from surgery or injuries to your body, and assists the body in creating hormones, enzymes, and antibodies.

This amino acid specializes in the immune system, considering it assists in creating those illness-fighting cells. It can help prevent these pathogens from taking hold and reduce effects of the Herpes virus. Working with arginine, it also increases the effect of human growth hormone in the body. Finally, it can also assist in making your hair, nails, and skin healthier.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, the deficiency can be more detrimental than others. Because lysine assists in collagen production, a deficiency will lead to hair loss, cracked and easily-broken skin, and fragile nails. It can also lead to anemia, lack of energy, reproductive system problems, and growth retardation. Overdosing can cause a slack in blood clotting, so it’s wise not to take much while pregnant or near a surgery.

The recommended daily value of lysine is 38mg per kilogram in adults. The best foods to get into your diet for lysine are, like most of the amino acids, chicken, turkey, seafood, and game meat. You can also take supplements for this amino acid, but you can get enough from the proteins you should be eating every day.


The amino acid methionine has multiple uses as well. On top of already being necessary to promote growth and body functions, methionine is primarily needed for joint growth and cartilage formation. It is highly important, especially to the people who have arthritis, considering these facts. It is one of the only sulphur-containing amino acid, which is necessary for joints.

While joint health is a big benefit of taking in methionine, it also assists in raising the acidity of urine to reduce or eliminate a urinary tract infection. Additionally, this is one of the amino acids that can help improve your mood and lower your stress. It is often used to help overcome depression and those affected with Parkinson’s disease.

Deficiency is a bit more problematic with this amino acid, as well. Being deficient in it can give you Parkinson’s disease-like symptoms, leading up to possible paralysis. One can also get a fatty liver, leading to liver deterioration, as well as hair loss, depression, and in some cases, schizophrenia. Overdosing doesn’t seem to have any side-effects, as the body passes whatever it doesn’t use. Scientists are still researching it, but one result that has been obtained is that it can interfere with nitrogen processing from other substances.

The recommended daily dosage for methionine is 19mg total for adults. The foods that contain methionine are fish, chicken, Brazilian nuts, parmesan cheese, and lamb. There are also supplements you can take for methionine, but a full serving of one of these proteins should be good enough to cover your daily requirement.


This amino acid is another that is nearly specific to your nervous system. With it, the nervous system can develop further and keep healthy with a few neurotransmitters. Scientists are still discovering more things that phenylalanine does, but your nervous system needs it to help function. Like other amino acids, it will also improve your mood.

The benefits lie around the nervous system and helps with many things. Not only does it help synthesize and keep your nerve cells healthy, it also helps improve your alertness, memories, and in some cases, learning capacity. It is also thought to reduce chronic pain and depression. It will assist with your mood and focus.

However, deficiency can have worse effects on your body than you might think. With a deficiency, you can suffer from lethargy, fatigue, slower healing, and gain some skin rashes. Likewise, and overdose of phenylalanine can lead to allergy-like responses like itchy skin, swelling of the hands or face, and a tingling feeling in the mouth. However, those with phenylketonuria, which causes a phenylalanine abundance, may need assistance with getting phenylalanine out of their body.

The daily recommended requirement for phenylalanine is 33 mg total in adults, but of course, more in children and even more in infants. The best foods to get this amino acid from are more from beans and seeds, but can also be obtained from tuna and many cheeses like swiss, gruyere, and romano.


While all the amino acids are important, threonine is one of the more important ones of the set due to its tremendous versatility. It not only supports muscle growth, but it synthesizes into the amino acids glycine and serine, which are two other amino acids. All of these are involved in elastin, collagen, and muscle tissue development. It also combines with aspartic acid and methione to help with liver and digestion functions.

The benefits of threonine are far and wide. Apart from having multiple syntheses of other amino acids, threonine also assists the immune system. It produces antibodies and other ways to fight pathogens and other harmful substances that might enter your body. It is used to treat Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) since it heightens the amount of glycine levels in the nervous system.

Threonine deficiency is dangerous, considering it can leave you with poor nutrient absorption. This can lead to malnourishment. This leads to intestinal malfunction, increased liver fat, and a decrease in digestion rate. It can also degrade your nervous system to mental health deterioration. Similarly, overdosing on it can lead to disrupting liver function and an increase of ammonia toxicity.

The recommended daily requirement of threonine is about 20mg per kilogram in adults. More is needed by children and infants, of course. The best foods that contain threonine are cottage cheese, different types of seeds like sesame and sunflower seeds, as well as lean beef and lamb.


This is an amino acid is a bit more popular among people because it is a great sleep aid. If you’ve ever eaten a big Thanksgiving dinner and felt sleepy afterward, it’s likely because of tryptophan. Turkey, among other poultry like chicken, is high in this amino acid—it converts into niacin, which creates serotonin, which makes you sleepy.

Tryptophan is used in quite a few drugs that assist in mood, sleep, and headaches. The biggest benefit of tryptophan, for most, is an improvement in sleep quality. The serotonin that comes from it brings about better neural transmission for moods, controlling anxiety and happiness, thus lowering stress and easing us to sleep.

Deficiency in tryptophan can be pretty miserable. Sleep problems is the main symptom, creating insomnia and other sleep deprivations. It is known to increase the craving for sugars and carbohydrates or reduce appetite altogether. Depression and anxiety are another common factor in tryptophan deficiency.

Conversely, an overdose of it can lead to eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome which is abrupt, severe muscle pain, harsh cramping, and neurotoxic reactions. It can also cause you to develop serotonin syndrome, which can give you muscle spasms, increased sweating, fever, and cardiac problems.

The daily recommended 5mg per kilogram in adults, but a bit more can help you sleep if you have a sleeping disorder. Keep in mind the overdose symptoms, however. Over time, tryptophan can poison you and give you some severe muscle pain and cramps. The foods that contain the most tryptophan are egg whites, fish, seeds, and turkey meat.


This amino acid is the third of the BCAA set that assits in tissue repair, promote growth, provide energy, and regulate blood sugar. This is especially important in bodybuilding, considering valine stops muscle cells from breaking down during hard exercising. It supplies glucose to muscles for additional energy. It also helps regulate muscle synthesis and maintenance.

The benefits of valine are mainly for muscle synthesis, but it also good for stress management, immune system, and muscle support. It can also assist in eliminating additional nitrogen from the liver which can be toxic. It is the weaker of the three BCAAs, but it is still necessary for muscular development and health.

Valine is in a lot of different foods and it takes a lot to become deficient in it. However, if it does happen, it’s likely because you are an athlete or bodybuilder. Heavy and intense exercises will require more valine than a normal person would need. Muscles will be stressed and will need more energy to stimulate growth and recovery, which is what the BCAAs are all about.

According to the Food and Nutrition board of the US, it is recommended that 4mg per kilogram is consumed by adults. The foods that are rich in valine are eggs, soy proteins, turkey, game meats, seaweed, and fish.

The Nonessential Amino Acids

Nonessential amino acids aren’t as important as the essential ones, considering your body needs all 20 to survive and stay healthy. In the lists of nonessential amino acids, however, there are conditional ones that are usually produced whenever one is sick or under extreme stress. Then again, just because they are nonessential, that doesn’t mean your body will produce as much as you need.

In that sense, even the nonessential amino acids become essential, so it’s always a good idea to get as many as you need. Liquids and light meals are good during sickness, but staving off the proteins completely is a bad idea. Each amino acid is necessary, so make sure that your intake is enough to cover any deficiency if you need it.


The amino acid alanine plays a crucial part in changing glucose, which are simple sugars, into energy. It also eliminates excess toxins, like nitrogen, from the liver. It balances the glucose and nitrogen in the body, making you go through an “alanine cycle”. Your cells need to go through this cycle to get energy and continues regulate blood sugar.

Alanine supplements are often supplied to those suffering from insulin shocks or low blood sugar. The delivered energy will assist those that suffer from hypoglycemia. Alanine also assists with the prevention of kidney stones as well as beefing up the immune system. It is popular among orthomolecular doctors to assist with these things.

Poor diet and lack of exercise can cause a deficiency in alanine, even though it is extremely rare. However, people with diabetes, hepatitis, and low blood sugar can suffer from it. This can lead to extreme hunger, fatigue, lots of sweating, dizziness, and a constant feeling of anxiousness. However, taking in more alanine than the tolerable limit can lead to flushing and tingling.

Since alanine is produced by the body, there is no recommended requirement. However, there is a tolerable upper limit, situating at 200-600mg in a day. The foods that are rich in alanine are turkey, tuna, and seafood.


This amino acid is involved in the metabolic control in brain and nerve tissue, assisting the functions of the cells there. Its main function is to keep the balance between anxiousness and becoming too calm. It forms in the liver and is created from aspartic acid. It releases energy for the brain and nervous system to metabolize.

The benefits of this amino acid are mainly to do with its functions—your nervous system and brain is a lot healthier with this. It helps convert other amino acids into useful substances for the body to use as well as having therapeutic properties.

Thankfully, because it is nonessential, it is very rare to have a deficiency in it. However, if you do get deficient in it, you can suffer from headaches, depression, mood swings, and confusion. Psychosis is also a danger. It can also weaken your immune system, making it easier to get sick. Overdoses are also rare, but can lead to toxicity in your blood and possible allergy-like reactions.

While nonessential, scientists have not researched enough to find a tolerable upper limit, but the foods that contain asparagine are in many dairy, whey, beef, and poultry foods, as well as asparagus, potatoes and seeds.


This amino acid is also called aspartic acid. There are two forms of this, coming in D-aspartic acid and L-aspartate. D-aspartic acid assists with testosterone boosts in athletes and to assist infertile men with copulation. It goes into the brain and releases hormones while also building up in the testicles, assisting with the testosterone boosts.

The benefits of aspartic acid also help with metabolism. It is given to treat depression and fatigue in some cases. It increases nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) in the brain, which research dictates may boost chemicals needed for proper mental function.  Finally, it also helps remove toxins from the liver and from cells, especially ammonia.

Like the other nonessential amino acids, this one is very rare to be deficient on. However, with poor diet and no exercise can lead to chronic fatigue and brain damage, considering ammonia won’t be removed as easily. It can also lead to slack in concentration, chronic headaches, intolerance for protein, and irritability. Overdosing comes with eating too much protein, which can damage the liver and kidneys while increasing the risk of gout.

The average daily intake should ride somewhere around 500mg one to three times a day, spread out through the day. The foods that contain aspartic acid and aspartate are most poultries, eggs, fish, cabbage, soy, and asparagus.


Glutamate, or glutamic acid, is an amino acid that keeps neurotransmitters healthy. They act as ionotropic and metabotropic receptors, assisting in nerve transfers through each cell. It assists with synthesizing proteins and helps keep the immune and digestive systems in good condition. It is quickly used during exercise, providing energy to the muscular system as well.

The brain needs glutamic acid because of its neurotransmitting purposes, which can bring down depression and other mood-oriented conditions.. It is attached to the nerve cells and helps with specific receptors, mostly to regulate calcium, magnesium, and sodium ions. It has been known to assist with heart function, making it easier to exercise and assisting with heart disease.

Since glutamate is a nonessential amino acid, the body creates it on its own so it doesn’t suffer deficiency too easily. Those that suffer from cognitive brain dysfunction and have chronic exhaustion usually suffer from glutamic acid deficiency. Overdosing is difficult, but it can cause headaches and neurological problems if eating too much protein, along with kidney and liver problems.

The foods that are high in glutamic acid are tuna, clams, halibut, chicken breasts, and different cheeses. There’s no daily threshold, considering the body makes it, but eating too much protein is a bad idea in any case. It can cause liver and kidney problems, elevated enzymes, and other difficulties in your body.

The Conditional Amino Acids

As said above, there are certain amino acids that the body makes for itself, but only in specific times of crucial need or stress. However, there are some cases that the body may not make enough for itself and will therefore need it from external sources. This is one of the reasons protein is so important in your diet. While you should drink fluids when you’re sick, don’t skimp out on the meat. Even though these are nonessential, they can become essential if your body doesn’t make enough.


This conditional amino acid is one that depends on health status or life cycle of the person. Preterm infants are unable to create arginine internally, so it is essential for them to get it from their mother or from formula. If you run a healthy lifestyle, there is no reason that your body shouldn’t be making it. You will have enough made in your diet. However, if not, you’ll need to get it from protein.

Arganine is important to the body in the case that it functions in the role of hormone balance, cell division, removing ammonia from the body, the immune system, and healing wounds. It also improves kidney and liver function as well as repair blood vessels and fighting inflammation. There are other heart and aging benefits that come along with arginine, but it does it in part with other amino acids.

Deficiency isn’t normal and is usually labeled as the disease called argininemia. It is a genetic autosomal recessive urea cycle disorder that can cause lethargy, dehydration, microcephaly, hypotonia, seizures, and stunted growth. This is usually found at infancy and can be treated with limiting protein intake and getting sodium medicines or other things. In adults, it’s possible to get rashes and suffer from hair loss from arginine deficiency.

The maximum dosage that is considered safe is about 400-6,000 milligrams of arginine. Anything more can cause stress to your liver and kidneys. The foods that are rich in arginine are turkey, pork, chicken, soybeans, dairy, chickpeas, and other various seeds.


This amino acid is rather complicated in its synthesis. It needs multiple amino acids to be created in your body and is conditional to the point that it’s only created when you have methionine within your body. Then again, cysteine can be obtained through food and supplements as well. It is necessary for synthesizing other amino acids and enzymes.

Cysteine has many benefits, including assistance with removing toxins and supporting respiratory and brain health. Infertility is also assisted with Cysteine, alleviating glutathione depletion. It assists with lowering glucose levels in the blood and has insulin resistance, making it a great option for diabetics. Neurologists have stated that it also assists with OCD and schizophrenia, along with other neurological diseases.

Deficiency is possible, leading to a few health problems. Hair loss, loss of pigment in hair follicles, liver damage, and fatigue are all symptoms of cysteine deficiency. It is a conditional amino acid, so it’s not easy to get a deficiency, but it can happen. Taking an overdose of it can lead to migranes or other severe headaches, as well as kidney stones.

The average amount of cysteine should be about 500 to 1,500 milligrams of it a day. Be careful not to go overboard, even though there are no scientific researches that point to a toxicity level. The foods that are rich in cysteine are soybeans, beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, and many seeds and nuts.


You may be wondering if you saw this listing twice on this guide, which is understandable—glutamine is very similar to glutamate. It is a great way to burn fat and build muscle, making it a positive enforcement in losing weight. It assists with many things with nervous system and digestive system health as well as promoting athletic improvement and muscle growth.

There has been extensive scientific research done on glutamine and how it affects the body, but there are multiple benefits of the amino acid. It is mostly beneficial in gastrointestinal health, but also goes to the brain for neurotransmitters. This improves memory and concentration, counteracting OCD and ADD or ADHD. The benefits go all the way to improving metabolism and detoxing your body of harmful substances.

Deficiency leads to cellular sluggishness, not only making it difficult for your body to function, but losing weight will seem almost impossible. It can also negatively affect your digestive systems and energy levels. Low glutamine means your digestion will be slow, which can lead to inflammatory bowel disease. The low levels of energy mean lots of fatigue.

The daily recommended requirement for glutamine is about 1-5 grams every day. While bodybuilders may consume more for the growth of their muscle, you still need some to obtain normal body function. You won’t lose weight if you stay away from protein altogether. Aside from the supplements that provide the amino acids, you can also get it from foods like beef, poultry, pork, fish, and dairy.


Being one of the next amino acids that affects your entire body, glycine is one of the more important ones. There are a tremendous amount of functions that glycine covers, including the nervous system, digestive system, cellular function, hormone balance, and muscle growth. It is necessary for body functions, of course, since it’s an amino acid.

The benefits are far and wide, including mental health which extends to memory and concentration, assisting with sleep quality, and stabilizing blood sugar and lowering the risk of diabetes. With the nervous system health, it can prevent stress, anxiety, seizures, and schizophrenia. These are only a few of the benefits, so be sure to get it into your diet if you haven’t already.

Glycine deficiency is possible, but difficult to do since it is a conditional nonessential amino acid and can be produced from threonine and serine. However, it is more likely for bodybuilders and athletes to suffer from glycine deficiency considering it is necessary for muscle growth. If one is malnourished, however, they can suffer from low energy and fatigue.

The necessary amount of glycine human adults may need in a day is around 1-3 grams each day with 45 grams being tested with no side-effects.The foods that contain high amounts of glycine are actually gelatins and gelatin desserts, but can also come from pork, beef, chicken, and seafood.


Although a nonessential amino acid, proline is one of the amino acids made by another, being glutamate. Even though it is nonessential, if you don’t have a substantial amount of glutamate, you won’t have enough proline. It is important to multiple cellular functions including blood pressure, collagen creation, and tissue reformation.

Benefits of proline include treatments for chronic back pain, tissue strains, and osteoarthritis. Maintaining a proper diet should supply you with enough proline in your diet, but it is also used to avoid losing muscle mass and keeps the body from using its own protein to last. Proline is also used for arthritis and joint pain, herpes, and often for bodybuilders for muscle retention.

Deficiency is rare, but people who are recovering from skin or traumatic injuries may need this amino acid for collagen and tissue repair. Another group of people that may suffer from it are athletes, especially those that involve harsh exercise. People can experience cannibalization of their own tissue muscles, causing shrinking or slack in size.

There’s no real requirement considering proline is made as it is needed, but the tolerable upper limit is around 500-1000mg in a day. This goes in part with overdoses of protein, which can cause kidney and liver problems. The foods that contain high amounts of proline are gelatin desserts, cheeses, beef, chicken, and soy.


This amino acid is another one that is synthesized from another. It is made from glycine and is significant to nervous system and mental health. Cell production uses serine to function properly, including the metabolism and muscle creation and regulation. There has been extensive research on how serine is involved with mental illnesses like ALS, Parkinson’s disease and schizophrenia.

Serine benefits the body in many ways, including alleviating stress symptoms. It also assists in burning fat and metabolizing energy, making it good for athletes. It keeps your brain healthy due to its involvement in the myelin sheaths of our nerve cells. Serine makes a great source for those who need better concentration and memory.

Deficiency often leads to serious problems, considering it is one of the amino acids that are very involved with the nervous system. With deficiency, it can lead to fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Children with serine deficiency can suffer from microcephaly, seizures, or quadriplegia.

There’s no required amount of this protein considering it is made in the body with the assistance of other amino acids and vitamins. A tolerable upper limit is also unknown, considering there have been no side effects of overdose or drawbacks from taking a lot. Anything you put into your body will be expelled out. The foods rich in serine are eggs, soy protein, seaweed, cheese, and turkey.


Finally, the last standard amino acid the body needs is tyrosine. It is also the last of the conditional nonessential amino acids, being made from phenylalanine. Tyrosine is a precursor to neurotransmitters and increases those levels, but has no effect on mood. It also assists in making melanin, which is what gives our skin and hair color.

Benefits of tyrosine involve usefulness with different stress-related illnesses like stress itself, fatigue, sleep deprivation, and the common cold. It reduces stress hormone levels and improves physical performance. It is also another amino acid that is said to assist with athletic performance, although there is no proof of it doing that yet.

There are many symptoms that come from a deficiency, including depression, lower blood sugar, loss of pigmentation, mood swings, and fatigue. Overdose is possible with tyrosine. It can cause anxiety and negatively affect those with hypertension. While it may be good for depression, it is not something that should be relied on. It can also cause migraines and severe headaches.

The daily dietary requirement is around 33mg per kilogram of body weight in adults. It is found in foods like chicken, turkey, fish, and dairies. There’s no scientific research done on an upward tolerable limit, but lots of use over time can cause the above symptoms.

For Vegetarians and Vegans

Many of you may not eat meat at all, which can be dangerous at times. It is very easy to run into protein deficiency as a vegetarian. Considering most amino acids come from meat and seafood, vegetarians must get their proteins from other sources. Luckily, there are plenty of non-meat foods that contain a plethora of amino acids.


While this is more for vegetarians and not vegans, eggs are considered a “complete protein”. Some vegetarians consider eggs non-vegetarian, but for those that allow them into your diet, you can get all nine of your essential amino acids from this little item. It also has alanine, aspartic acid, and glutamic acid.


These little beads of deliciousness are part of a flowering plant of the amaranth family. Not only is it tasty and can be mixed with anything, it is also a complete protein! This is rare in most plants, of course, considering they need to be mixed with other foods or grains. This one, however, is a great choice to make a meal out of.


Soybeans are also another complete protein, boasting all nine essential amino acids. This is a great choice for both vegetarians and vegans and should be eaten at least once a day if you’re worried about not getting enough of your amino acids.

Wheat Germ

Wheat is a completely different beast when it come it comes to food. It’s a very diverse and complex food and you can make a lot of things out of it. Wheat germ is the seed of a wheat grain and can add a wonderful crunch to most of your meals, whether it’s with soy beans, eggs, or whatever else you may want to eat. It’s not a complete protein, as it doesn’t contain a lot of lysine, so you’ll have to eat more than just that, or take a supplement.


While lentils aren’t a complete source of amino acids, there are tons of ways that you can get it. Lentils contain only about 50% of the required amino acids and must be mixed with rice or soy to make a complete protein.  There are lots of recipes out there that can assist you with this, but there’s no way one can get a complete protein from lentils alone.

In Summary

This can be a lot of information and it may be difficult to keep in mind. However, there are some easy shortcuts that you can take to remember which amino acids you need. All you need to really remember are the essential amino acids. Adding a protein to each meal is very important, considering a complete protein each meal will give you more than enough of the daily required essential amino acids.



Amino acids make up the body. Some are made inside of your body, but some of them aren’t. All of them are necessary, though. The ones that are most important to your daily life are the essential amino acids. It’s somewhat easy to get them all in your life, but you have to eat complete proteins or mix incomplete proteins together. Supplements are also a great choice if you don’t want to go that far.

If weight loss is your goal, you must include protein in your diet regardless. It won’t add weight unless you eat a lot of it. A balanced diet, coupled with daily exercise, will get you the results you want. If you’re a bodybuilder, you’ll need as much protein as you can get (while still being safe, of course.) There are thousands of recipes all over the Internet. If you’re unsure of how to cook your proteins, look around. Try something new!