Amino acids are building blocks for proteins. Protein is the most second abundant substance in body after water. Proteins form a structure for genes, blood, tissue, muscle, collagen, skin, hairs and nails. Protein is also constituent for various hormones, disease fighting cells, antibodies and neurotransmitters also. All of above mentioned substances require constant regeneration through out the life and thats why we need protein on daily basis.
As discussed above that amino acids are precursor for various neurotransmitter (chemical messengers in brain) and their levels (low or high) can affect the human behaviour, feelings, mood, emotions, contentment, appetite, energy levels, memory, sleep, sex drive, perception to stress and pain, addictions to stimulants, and even drug abuse.
Various neurotransmitters are dopamine, acetylcholine, epinephrine, nor epinephrine, serotonin,
We will discuss few amino acids commonly used or available in free form: phenylalanine, tyrosine, tryptophan, taurine, N acetyl cysteine, arginine, glutamine, leucine, isoleucine and valine
Aromatic amino acids: Phenylalanine, tyrosine and tryptophan as most profound effect on sleep, pain and addictions
Sulfur amino acids: Methionine, Cysteine, Taurine and Homocysteine (an amino acid metabolite) plays major role in methylation, detoxification, bile production and acts as anti depressant
Urea Amino acid: Arginine play role in production of nitric acid which in turns help to regulate dilation and constriction of blood vessels. Arginine is required to eliminate the end product of protein (ammonia and urea)
Glutamate amino acids: Glutamic acid, GABA and Glutamine, Glutamic acid is an excitatory neurotransmitter that acts as brain stimulant. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that has a calming effect and glutamine being the primary source of brain fuel and mediator for both glutamic acid and GABA activity. Imbalances in between three can lead to various neurological issues like schizophrenia, parkinson’s disease, epilepsy and behavioural disorders.
Branched Chain Amino acids (BCAA’s): Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine – they are most essential for maintaining muscle and skeletal health. They are great source of energy for muscles under many stressful conditions, stimulate protein synthesis and decrease the breakdown of muscle protein. This is the reason for supplementing them during muscle building and fat loss program.
Diagrams showing amino acids as precursor to the neurotransmitters and their role.