What is the function of essential amino acids?
Essential amino acids include valine, leucine, isoleucine, methionine, threonine, phenylalanine, tryptophan and lysine. In some cases, histidine is also counted amongst them, which is especially important during childhood. However, it's been discovered that once a person reaches adulthood, the body is able to produce it on its own, and therefore it is usually classified as a semi-essential amino acid.
Each of these essential amino acids has a specific function in the body. Valine, leucine, and isoleucine are collectively referred to as branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) and play an important role in the growth and regeneration of muscle mass. On their own, BCAAs themselves are quick to digest, and can thus also serve as a source of energy during sports activity. Thanks to this, they are able to protect the muscles from being burned for energy. This makes them suitable for all people who exercise and try to gain muscle mass, as well as for endurance runners and other athletes who have long and demanding trainings.
Methionine is necessary for the development of body tissues and the proper functioning of metabolism, especially for the proper absorption of zinc and selenium. These minerals are crucial for the health of hair, nails, and skin. Threonine, in turn, is a part of collagen and elastin, which are critical proteins that take care of the health of the skin and other connective tissues. Phenylalanine is the basis for the production of hormones and neurotransmitters in the body, such as dopamine, which affects mood, thinking and other brain functions. Tryptophan boasts a similar function, and is a precursor of the neurotransmitter called serotonin. The latter contributes to the regulation of sleep, mood, and appetite. Last but not least, lysine plays a key role in the formation of protein and muscle mass, and also promotes the optimal absorption of calcium.
How to take essential amino acids?
BCAAs have a wide range of uses due to their properties. During the day, you can use them to support the intake of the aforementioned compounds, which are necessary for overall health. They are also a great addition to a post-workout protein drink. EAA usually come in the form of a soluble powder, which you can mix together with water or any other drink.