Amino acids exist in a variety of natural foods such as legumes, grains, meats, fish, vegetables, and dairy products. If you don't get the proper balance of amino acids that you need, taking amino acid supplements, or amino supplements for short, may be a good idea. Before you start to take an amino acid supplement, you should consult a health care professional such as a dietitian, nutritionist, or physician. He or she should be able to help you understand whether you need to take supplements and how to choose the best ones. Most likely, that determination will depend on a variety of factors including which amino acids you need more of and what form of supplement you prefer.
There are a variety of reasons why people may turn to amino supplements. People suffering from mental illness, addiction, or immune deficiencies may take amino supplements if they aren't getting a proper amount in their normal diet. Bodybuilders, however, are perhaps most commonly associated with amino supplements. They want extra amino acids because they hope the excess will help repair and further develop muscles but there is some debate over whether amino acids help weightlifters, athletes, or anyone who exercises regularly.
Since the body can produce non-essential amino acids from essential amino acids, there usually isn't a reason to take a supplement that contains non-essential amino acids. Sometimes non-essential amino acids are needed however, and which supplement is best for you should include the particular non-essential amino acid or acids you need. There is some dispute over the number of non-essential amino acids but there are eleven different non-essential amino acids that are most commonly cited: alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine, and tyrosine. Each amino acid serves a different purpose. Arginine, cysteine, and thyrosine are said to help with metabolism, weight loss, and fat burning, for example.
Usually, supplements are taken to get more essential amino acids, also known as indispensable amino acids, because the diet doesn't produce enough. Most American diets do produce enough amino acids, however. The eight essential amino acids are isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. Not all supplements contain all eight essential amino acids so it's important to check the label to make sure that the supplement you choose contains the essential amino acid you need.
Another consideration when choosing amino acid supplements is the form of the supplement. Amino supplements come in a variety of forms from liquids to powders to capsules. Some power bars or energy bars are good sources of amino acids too. Which form you prefer to supplement your amino acid intake may be a factor in your selection.
Since the body is dependent upon cellular growth and development, proteins such as amino acids are pivotal. Still, like most things in life, amino acids seem to be subject to the old adage — there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. While research is not conclusive on the issue, most health care professionals caution against an excessive intake of amino acids as it may cause such problems as kidney or liver malfunction or metabolism disruption. If you're considering an amino supplement, you may want to consult a health care professional first.