Building and maintaining human muscle tissue is the desire of every bodybuilder. Our muscles are responsible for all movement within the human body and they are constantly helping us to breathe, to pump blood around our bodies and even to digest our food. So it is quite obvious that a human being is absolutely nothing without muscles. The muscles that cover our bodies are also aesthetically pleasing and we tend to associate strong muscular frames with good health. It is because of this factor that bodybuilding is such a popular pastime and the achievements that can be attained are phenomenal once the bodybuilder understands how muscle works and what nutrients to feed them with.
We have all heard that proteins are the building blocks of the body. The body uses many forms of protein to build and repair itself. Collagen is a tension bearing protein that is spread throughout the body, especially in our bones, teeth and muscle. Elastin is a protein that can stretch and return to its original form and is found in our arteries and tendons. Our hair and nails are composed of the fibrous protein Keratin. We also have other forms of proteins in our body, enzymes and hormones being an example.
It is essential for good health that the body is able to repair and replenish damaged and depleted proteins on an ongoing basis. Our cells wear out, get damaged and need to be constantly fed with the materials needed to make adequate repairs. Our blood stream caries these materials, called amino acids, throughout our bodies delivering them to the cells in sufficient quantity and structure that our cells require.
As a broad analogy you can think of the human body as a game of scrabble. The letters that sit in our racks symbolise the amino acids that circulate in our blood streams, the bag of spare letters is the broken down food in our stomachs and final words that we build the lattice all over the board are the proteins.
As we eat our food, the body breaks down the bulk into useful nutrients which are circulated around the body in our blood stream. When cells require repair they will call for specific proteins, which are produced by composing chains of amino acids in the exact format that the cell needs to work with.
There are 20 amino acids present in proteins. There is a group of these called the essential amino acids and another which is called a semi-essential amino acid because it is very important to children, but not so essential to adults.
The names of these 20 amino acids are Alanine, Arginine, Asparagine, Aspartic acid , Cysteine, Glutamic Acid, Glutamine, Glycine, Histidine [Semi-Essential], Isoleucine [Essential], Leucine [Essential], Lysine [Essential], Methionine [Essential], Phenylalanine [Essential], Proline, Serine, Threonine [Essential], Tryptophan [Essential], Tyrosine, Valine [Essential].
The eight essential amino acids are the ones which cannot be made by the human body and so we must source these in the form of food. Plants make protein from the nitrogen in the soil and because animals rely upon plants for these essential amino acids we must use digestion to take on the nutrients that we cannot make for ourselves. All amino acids contain Hydrogen, Carbon, Oxygen and Nitrogen. Our bodies use the first three elements and expel the nitrogen in the form of urea, which is filtered out and expelled in our urine.
Amino Acid absorption is a complex business but putting it as simply as I possibly can if the blood stream contains a strong source of 7 out of the 8 essential amino acids and it only has half the amount of the 8th essential amino acid then the body will only be able to make proteins to the level that the lower amino acid allows. The left over amino acids are then lost to either waste or are used for their base energy value.
In day to day life we can obtain adequate amounts of essential amino acids from a good balanced diet. However, during times of stress or damage the body requires a good source of nutrient to help with the repairs in the aftermath. This is where bodybuilders have found that using the right amount of perfectly formulated amino acid supplements can help with recovery and muscle growth their workouts. Obviously taking amino acid supplements if you are just living a normal life and not putting your body under unnatural pressure will not give you any extra power or strength and may, if abused even be detrimental to health. But if you are training hard your body can use this 'perfect' formula to help in the repair phase.
Warning! - When you start to think about using essential amino acid supplements you should first visit your GP or Health Professional to ask whether you have any reason or conditions that may clash with this supplement regimes. Do not ignore this warning, some people are allergic to some amino acids and taking a supplement without the express permission of your GP / Health Professional could expose you to unnecessary danger.
Once you have the go ahead from your GP / Health Professional it is absolutely essential that you source the highest quality amino acid mixes possible. It is also essential that you follow the tried and tested instructions that accompany the product. There is no gain to be made by super consuming these products as the body just uses the amino acids for repair and once those repairs are performed you will just be excreting your expensive amino's as pee and poo ... hardly worth the money at this point.
I hope this helps you to understand the subject of amino acid supplements a bit better. It is a complex subject that requires a great deal of research to fully comprehend and obviously in this small article we have only just scraped the surface, but I hope it can act as a start.