What are amino acids? Amino acids explained simply and easily
Simple, but true: There is no life without amino acids. Amino acids are the micromolecules, the building blocks of proteins and are jointly responsible for almost all processes in the human body. For example, they regulate the function of muscles, organs, arteries, glands and tendons, but also transport nutrients and oxygen throughout the body. Both hormones and antibodies consist of amino acids. Since, unlike carbohydrates and fat, they also contain nitrogen, they can even form tissue, organs, skin, hair and muscles—which is why they play a special role in building muscle in bodybuilders and athletes. There are more than 400 known non-proteinogenic amino acids, which have biological functions, as well as 20 or 22 proteinogenic—protein-building—amino acids.
More about the classification of amino acids, proteinogenic amino acids, essential amino acids, the production of amino acids, BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) and much more can be found here.
Proteinogenic amino acids: Amino acids and protein
All proteins consist of differently linked amino acids. The process of regenerating proteins from amino acids is called protein biosynthesis (PBS). The arrangement, number and type of amino acids determine the resulting protein. Short amino acid chains are called peptides. Only when a length of 100 amino acids is achieved do we speak of proteins. Most Proteins consist of chains of 100 to 300 amino acids.
The amino acids linked as building blocks for the formation of proteins are also known as protein-building or proteinogenic amino acids. In addition to the 20 proteinogenic amino acids in humans, also called canonical amino acids, there are two further amino acids: selenocysteine and pyrrolysine.
The 20 proteinogenic amino acids are:
- Aspartic acid
- Glutamic acid
The body can build the two other proteinogenic amino acids into proteins by recoding genetic material. Selenocysteine and pyrrolysine are therefore also referred to as the 21st and 22nd proteinogenic amino acids.
Arginine—also called l-arginine—is one of the essential amino acids; it also contains a carboxylic acid group in addition to an amino acid group. Arginine also belongs to the semi-essential amino acids, i.e. it should be taken as a supplement in certain cases, for example in growth phases or after serious injuries. Because arginine functions as a vasodilator, it is very popular with bodybuilders as a “pump supplement”. You can learn more about arginine here.
L-carnitine is a transport molecule for fatty acids that can improve your fat burning and help you lose weight. Carnitine is a combination of the amino acids lysine and methionine and is involved in the supply of fatty acids for energy production. As a supplement, carnitine is often referred to as a fat burner and can help you achieve your personal diet and fitness goals. More information about l-carnitine can be found here.
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