Nutrition Myths

Essential Amino Acids

Amino acids are components of proteins and are used for breaking down food. They are also a source of energy and growth and help repair tissues.

Amino acids are divided into three categories: (1)

  • Essential amino acids (our bodies cannot produce them and therefore they must come from our diet). There are 9 essential amino acids: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. We don’t need to eat essential amino acids with every meal, but should have the full range throughout the day.
  • Non-essential amino acids (our bodies produce them, so we don’t need them from the diet). They include: alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid and glutamic acid.
  • Conditional amino acids (only needed during illness or stress). They include: arginine, cysteine, glutamine, tyrosine, glycine, ornithine, proline and serine.

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