Marc S. Schneider, M.D.
Essential Amino Acids Overview
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and are found in many food sources. Some amino acids can be made by your body, but others, known as the “essential amino acids,” must be obtained through food or supplements. Although amino acid supplements are often associated with athletes, supplementation may benefit anyone. This is because amino acids produce enzymes and are also involved in mood, concentration, sleep and a number of other physiological phenomena. While amino acids may have benefits, you should consult a doctor before using any supplements.
The consumption of some essential amino acids results in the stimulation of protein synthesis or the development of new tissue. Others cause a reduction in protein breakdown.
Certain amino acids help regulate metabolism. Not only do they have the ability to improve physical performance as a young adult, they might slow the effects of aging.
Research shows that 8-10 grams of essential amino acids maximally stimulate protein synthesis.
Protein Consumption and Aging
As people age, their protein requirements go up, not down. However, their appetite typically drops, which makes it a challenge to eat optimal amounts of protein.
Low protein intake can exacerbate the development of sarcopenia, or age-related lean mass loss. As lean muscle mass drops, the body becomes less efficient at utilizing and storing carbohydrates. Fat tissue begins to replace muscle on a pound for pound basis.
The Advantage of Essential Amino Acids
Amino acids do not need to be digested. They’re easily absorbed into the bloodstream once they’re consumed, meaning they quickly become available for use by the body. This makes them a fascinating supplement for use by high-performing athletes, aging adults, and everyone in between.
Essential Amino Acids – More than Muslce
Amino acids play an important role in stimulating protein synthesis and reducing protein breakdown. In doing so, they help build or preserve tissues like muscle and bone.
When used in older humans, the EAA increased the distance they could walk in a set period of time, as well as increased strength.*
Nervous System Support
Amino acids play a role in maintaining a normal mood because they are precursors of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. EAA are shown to significantly improve mood in older adults and reduce signs of stress.
Older adults increased lean body mass, which then had the effect of helping to maintain normal fasting insulin levels and blood glucose levels.
The use of amino acids in the Amino Complex formula also supported normal insulin levels and blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes, showing that their use can significantly alter the way the body stores and uses fuel. Fasting insulin and glycated hemoglobin, or HbA1c were both positively impacted.*
There is a strong indication that the use of essential amino acids support good cardiovascular health, and another study resulted in improved antioxidant function, which also deteriorates with aging or chronic stress.