In this article, we will discuss the difference between essential and non essential amino acids. An amino acid is an organic compound that combines to form proteins and therefore, both amino acids as well as proteins are the building blocks of life. Amino acids are left after the breaking down or digestion of proteins, also, the human body utilizes amino acids to produce proteins that help in breaking down food, grow, repair body tissue and perform various body functions. Therefore, amino acids are also referred to as basic building blocks of proteins.
Classification of Amino Acids
Amino acids can be classified into three groups, namely essential amino acids, nonessential amino acids and conditional amino acids.
Essential Amino Acids: Amino acids which cannot be synthesised or produced by the body and are required from food supplements are called essential amino acids. There are 9 essential amino acids that include leucine, isoleucine, histidine, lysine, methionine, threonine, phenylalanine, tryptophan and valine.
Nonessential Amino Acids: Amino acids which are produced or synthesised by our bodies and are not taken up as food supplements are called nonessential amino acids. There are 20 total amino acids common in all life forms and the nonessential amino acids out of these include arginine, alanine, aspartic acid, asparagine, cysteine, glutamine, glutamic acid, proline, glycine, serine and tyrosine. Without these amino acids, our body will find it hard to make up proteins it needs which are required for the repair, growth and maintenance of cells.
Conditional Amino Acids: Some of the amino acids which are usually not essential but in times of illness and stress, may become essential are called conditional amino acids. These may be required in conditions such as prematurity in infants. The six conditional amino acids include cysteine, arginine, tyrosine, glutamine, ornithine, glycine, serine and proline.
Our body does the mixing of 20 different amino acids and mixing and matching them together in a bonded chain. When we eat meat, fish, poultry, eggs and plant proteins, these foods get broken down in the digestive tract into individual amino acids and reassembled in our body to form a wide variety of proteins.
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Difference Between Essential and Nonessential Amino Acids