Tuesday, 14 July 2009 14:17

The Building Blocks of Your Body: Amino Acids by Shelley Jaffe

Written by  Shelley Jaffe
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Peter Gillham's Nutrition Center in Downtown ClearwaterYour body is continually rebuilding itself, cell by cell, every single day. If it doesn’t get what it needs to build itself, it starts to break down and physical problems develop. So, what are the building blocks of the body and where do you get them from?

These building blocks are called amino acids. Your body makes a lot of them itself—as long as you are eating a good diet—but some of them your body can’t make. These are called essential amino acids and your body gets them from very specific foods. Below is a list of the eight essential amino acids and the foods they come from:


• Tryptophan – this one helps with proper brain function and sleep patterns. It is plentiful in chocolate, oats, bananas, dried dates, milk, cottage cheese, meat, fish, turkey and peanuts.

• Lysine – a deficiency of this one can cause a deficiency in niacin (Vitamin B), which can cause the disease pellagra. Lysine is beneficial in treating and preventing herpes. Sources include green beans, lentils, spinach and amaranth.

• Methionine - supplies sulphur and other compounds required by the body for normal metabolism and growth. It helps the liver process fats and is found in fish, whole grains, and dairy.

• Valine - is needed for muscle metabolism, tissue repair and for the maintenance of proper nitrogen balance in the body. Valine is found in high concentration in the muscle tissue. It can be used as an energy source by muscle tissue. It may be helpful in treating liver and gallbladder disorders, and is good for correcting the type of severe amino acid deficiencies that can be caused by drug addiction. Dietary sources of valine include dairy products, grain, meat, mushrooms, and peanuts.

• Leucine - stimulates the building of muscles and may be the major fuel involved in tissue building. During times of starvation, stress, infection, or recovery from trauma, the body uses leucine to aid in the healing process. Insulin deficiency is known to result in poor utilization of leucine so diabetics may require higher levels of
leucine intake. Leucine is found in cottage cheese, sesame seeds, peanuts, dry lentils, chicken, and fish.

• Isoleucine - is important for blood sugar regulation, muscle development and repair, red blood cell formation, and energy regulation. Deficiencies of isoleucine results in possible dizziness, headaches, fatigue, depression, confusion and irritability. Isoleucine is found in eggs, fish, lentils, poultry, beef, seeds, wheat, almonds and dairy.

• Threonine - is important for antibody production which is what your body uses to protect itself against bacteria and viruses. Deficiencies can result in skin disorders and weakness, as well as a reduced immune system. Dietary sources of threonine include dairy, beef, poultry, eggs, beans, nuts, and seeds.

• Phenylalanine - is broken down by the body to make different hormones including adrenaline. Deficiencies are rare but can include slowed growth, lethargy, liver damage, weakness, edema, and skin lesions (sores on the skin). Food sources or phenylalanine are dairy, almonds, avocados, lima beans, peanuts, and seeds.

Shelley Jaffe is a Certified Nutritional Consultant and the Executive Director of Peter Gillham’s Nutrition Center in Downtown Clearwater. You can read more about nutrition and health on her blog at www.shelleyjaffe.com

Read 1500 times Last modified on Tuesday, 29 September 2009 13:32