Amino acids are organic compounds that combine to form proteins. Amino acids and proteins are the building blocks of life.
When proteins are digested or broken down, amino acids are left. The human body needs a number of amino acids to:
- Break down food
- Repair body tissue
- Perform many other body functions
Amino acids are classified into three groups:
- Essential amino acids
- Nonessential amino acids
- Conditional amino acids
Essential amino acids
Essential amino acids cannot be made by the body. As a result, they must come from food.
The nine essential amino acids are: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.
Conditional amino acids
Conditional amino acids are usually not essential, except in times of illness and stress.
They include: arginine, cysteine, glutamine, tyrosine, glycine, ornithine, proline, and serine.
One does not need to eat essential and nonessential amino acids at every meal, but getting a balance of them over the whole day is important.