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Have you ever heard of amino acids? Don’t feel bad if you haven’t – you won’t see them on any nutrition facts labels. This is because they are under the broad term “proteins” – which is about as helpful as saying you need two pounds of food a day. How do you know if you are getting enough if they don’t tell you what kind you are eating?

Check this out for more on understanding nutrition labels.

Amino Acids are the building blocks of proteins, which are the building blocks of our bodies. While we can create most amino acids from other nutrients, there are ten that our body cannot create. They are L-Arginine, L-Histidine, L-Lysine, L-Isoleucine, L-Leucine, L-Methionine, L-Phenylalanine, L-Tryptophan, L-Valine, and L-Threonine. The only way to obtain these amino acids is directly through, you guessed it, food.

To understand what the “L” is all about, click here.

Without Enough Amino Acids, We Can’t Function.

Leucine deficiency reduces the body’s ability to digest. Without proper levels of leucine, your digestive system works less efficient. This means fewer nutrients in your body, and more in your stool.

Ever heard of serotonin? Our bodies build serotonin out of L-Tryptophan. Serotonin is believed to be one of the chemicals that cause us to feel happy, along with dopamine, endorphins, and a few others. Without proper amounts of serotonin, we are said to feel depressed, irritable and experience sleep deprivation. This is why L-Tryptophan is often used as a sleep-aid.

These are just a couple of examples showing the importance of amino acids to our body’s functionality.

Learn more about the other amino acids.

Food Is The Healthiest Source

Amino Acids are available as supplements – but try your best to get them from your food. It is important to understand that many nutrients cannot be absorbed in their purest forms.

Say you don’t have enough calcium in your diet, you might take calcium supplements. However, even if you take twice the calcium you need every day, it is very possible that your body will still lack the recommend daily dosage of calcium. This is because vitamin D is needed in order to absorb calcium. Without vitamin D, your body has no way to use the calcium, thus it is disposed of as waste.

In food, the nutrients you need in order to absorb other nutrients are often found together. For instance, most dairy products are high in vitamin D and calcium, so your body is much more likely to receive what it needs. It is always healthier to obtain nutrients from food versus taking a pure form.  Supplements are meant to fill gaps in our diet, not to replace nutrient-filled foods.

Do you take supplements or vitamins? If so, how often? Please respond with your thoughts!

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