By Amy Kosowski, M.S., LDN
Amino Acids are molecular building blocks for protein. There are 20 amino acids that are used to make all proteins. Humans can synthesize some of these either from glucose (sugar) or via the conversion of other amino acids (interconversion). These are callednon-essential amino acids. There are 10 non-essential amino acids. The remaining 10 amino acids are called the essential amino acidsbecause they must be obtained from the diet.
In addition to building and repairing tissues, amino acids play an important role in immune function, the production of enzymes and hormones, building cellular structure components and the synthesis of neurotransmitters. Therefore, it is crucial to provide a balanced mix of amino acids for optimal nutrition, especially for athletes, who have an increased need for amino acids. Active people often take both amino acids and protein supplements. NOW Foods offers a number of products to meet the needs of athletes participating in a variety of activities. Below is a short list of the most popular Amino Acid supplements currently used to support sports nutrition.
Amino 1000 and Amino 1500 contain a balanced blend of the 20 amino acids fortified with Vitamin B6, a cofactor in many biochemical reactions involving amino acids.
The BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids) are Valine, Leucine and Isoleucine. BCAAs account for approximately 35% of the essential amino acids found in muscle proteins.1 Because exercise promotes muscle catabolism (breakdown) and because BCAAs are burned (oxidized) in muscle tissue for fuel, replenishment of BCAA body stores is critical for athletes in order to build and maintain muscle mass.1 Clinical studies have indicated that BCAA supplementation helps to increase intracellular and serum levels of BCAAs during exercise and helps to suppress muscle protein breakdown.2 NOW uses only the highest quality premium grade BCAAs in our products.
Glutamine (L-Glutamine) is the most abundant single amino acid in the body. Glutamine is important to develop and maintain muscle tissue. Supplementation with Glutamine can help to prevent muscle loss caused by the stress that exercise imposes on the body. Because strenuous exercise can cause the body to break down muscle in order to make glucose for fuel, supplementation may help to offset this effect and preserve lean muscle mass.3
It has also been shown that the immune system is suppressed following intense exercise. Glutamine, because it is the primary fuel source for white blood cells, can feed the cells of the immune system, thereby supporting immunity.4
1 Shimomura Y, Murakami T, Nakai N, Nagasaki M, Harris RA (2004) J Nutr 134:1583S-1587S
2 Kimball SR, Jefferson LS (2001) Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 4:39-43
3 Coster J, McCauley R, Hall J (2004) Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 13(1):25-31
4 Chwals WJ (2004) Mini Rev Med Chem 4(8):833-838