Amino Acids: The Key to Living Longer

The nutrition of the future will be able to offer humans knowledge of the food components, which will foster exceptional health and longevity. At this moment there are researchers working on amino acids that are extending longevity and super health in animals.

Amino acids play important roles both as building blocks of protein and in many functions of metabolism. There are approximate two dozen amino acids used by humans that are found within proteins, which convey a vast array of chemical versatility. In this group there are eight essential amino acids (some authorities, say ten), which can’t be synthesized in the body and need to come from the food one consumes on a daily basis. Growing children need five additional essential amino acids, which comes from their daily food.

What is an amino acid? An amino acid is any one of a class of simple organic compounds containing carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and in certain cases sulfur. They form short polymer chains called peptides or polypeptides, which in turn form structures called protein.

Proteins are an essential substance in the diets of humans and most animals, because of their constituent amino acids. A protein molecule is a long chain of amino acids linked by peptide bonds. Many different proteins are found in the cells of living organisms, but they are all composed of, about 20-24 amino acids joined together in varying combinations. Different amino acids are commonly found in proteins, each protein having a unique genetically defined amino-acid sequence., which determines its shape and function.

Proteins serve as enzymes, structural elements, hormones, immunoglobulins, etc. and are involved in oxygen transport, muscle contraction, electron transport; and other functions, such as controlling the metabolism of cells, controlling the structure and movement of cells and larger structures; and coordinating the response of cells to internal and external factors. Nutritionally, complete proteins are those which contain the right concentrations of the amino acids that humans can not synthesize from other amino acids or nitrogenous sources.

Non-Essential Amino Acids: are those that the body can manufacture from an available source of nitrogen and carbon skeleton The Amino Acids we can produce are:: alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine and tyrosine.

The 8 Essential Amino Acids: we can’t produce;
Isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.

Essential for the young:
Arginine, cysteine, histidine, taurine and tyrosine. Children’s bodies are unable to synthesize them.

Amino acids are needed to build the various proteins used in the growth, repair and maintenance of body tissues. Amino acids play innumerable roles in human health and disease. Failure to obtain enough of even one of the essential amino acids will result in degradation of the body’s proteins – muscle and so forth to obtain the one amino acid that is needed. Unlike fat and starch, the human body does not store excess amino acids for later use – the amino acids must be in the food every day. Raw vegetable juices contain the best sources of amino acids as they are easily digested and assimilated

Now comes word from Italian scientists, they’ve discovered a mix of amino acids is a life extender in animals – and may well be a longevity aid for humans, too. Perhaps, the most interesting aspect of this study, which was just published in the October issue of the journal Cell Metabolism, is a statement made by lead researcher Enzo Nisoli of Milan University in Italy, suggests nutritional therapies are being taken very seriously in the world of scientific research. The new study showing the life extending power of amino acids, Nisoli stated, supports a “general philosophy of a nutritional approach to disease, aging and problems of energy status.”

The Italian research team gave middle aged, male mice drinking water laced with an extra mix of amino acids – leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These branched-chain amino acids (BCAA’s) found in protein, are considered essential amino acids because human beings cannot survive unless these amino acids are present in the diet. Animals that were given the extra amino acids over a period of months had their normal life span increased by 12% – from about 774 days to 869 days.

What’s more, the mice who received the extra amino acids were found to have an increase in mitochondria (cellular components known as the “power factories” inside cells) in cardiac and skeletal muscles. There was also increased activity of SIRT1 – a well known longevity gene.; in the rodents who drank the leucine, isoleucine, and valine-laced water. The animals were better able to fend off free radicals, too, and so showed fewer signs of oxidative damage. and the benefits didn’t stop there. The amino acid supplemented mice also had better motor coordination and exercise endurance. Overall, the benefits of the amino acids were similar to those found in previous experiments using calorie restriction,

In a statement to the media, Nisoli pointed out that consuming amino acid supplements is different from consuming proteins containing those amino acids because the amino acids don’t have to be digested, they enter the bloodstream immediately. So, he added, BCAA nutritional supplements may turn out to be especially helpful for people with heart failure, the muscle-wasting condition known as sarcopenia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or other conditions marked by energy defects.

Although there are already a few small studies in humans that support the idea that BCAA supplements could help people with various chronic health problems. Nisoli stated that convincing doctors that amino acid supplements might benefit patients is a challenge. The reason? A large clinical trial involving humans is needed to provide more hard data – but there’s little incentive for companies to spend money on research for inexpensive dietary supplements as opposed to drugs, Nisoli said.

For a run down of most of the amino acids:

Alanine is necessary for the promotion of proper blood glucose levels from dietary protein. It stimulates lymphocyte production and may help people who have immune suppression. It strengthens the immune system by producing antibodies. It is vital for the production of protein.

Arginine is used by the immune system to help regulate the activity of the thymus gland, which is responsible for manufacturing T-lymphocytes. It plays a major role in cell division, in wound healing, removing excess ammonia from the body, and immune function,.

Asparagine is one of the most abundant amino acids involved in the transport of nitrogen. It is active in converting one amino acid into another, when the need arises. It is an amino donor in liver transamination processes.

Aspartic Acid plays an eminent role in metabolism during construction of other amino acids and biochemicals in the citric acid cycle. Among the biochemicals that are synthesized from aspartic acid are asparagine, arginine, methionine, isoleucine, threonine, and several nucleotides.

Carnitine is a nutrient responsible for the transport of long chain fatty acids into the energy producing centers of the cells (known as the mitachondria). Carnitine is recommended as a daily supplement to help maintain blood lipid profile and promote fatty acid utilization within heart muscle.

Cysteine is one of the key components in all living things. N-Acetyl-L cysteine (NAC) helps break down mucous and detoxify harmful substances in the body. Both cysteine and NAC have been shown to increase levels of the antioxidant glutathione; and strengthens the protective lining of the stomach and the intestines.

Glutamic Acid is biosynthesized from a number of amino acids, including arginine and ornithine. When aminated glutamic acid forms the important amino acid glutamine

Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body. It is found in 61% of skeletal muscle tissue. It is involved in more metabolic processes than any other amino acid. Glutamine is converted into glucose, when more glucose is required for an energy source. It also assists in maintaining the proper acid/alkaline balance in the body; and is the basis of the building blocks for the synthesis of RNA and DNA.

Glycine is used by the body to help the liver in detoxification of compounds and for helping the syntheses of bile acids. Glycine is essential for the synthesis of nucleic acids, bile acids, protein, peptides, purines, adenosine troposphere (ATP), porphyrins, hemoglobin, glutathione, creatine, bile salts, glucose, glycogen, and l-serine and other amino acids.

Histidine is needed to help grow and repair body tissues; and to maintain the myelin sheath that protects nerve cells. It also helps to manufacture red and white blood cells and protects the body from heavy metal toxicity. Histidine stimulates the secretion of the digestive enzyme gastrin.

Isoleucine belongs to a special group of amino acids called branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which are needed to help maintain and repair muscle tissue. It is an essential amino acid needed for hemoglobin formation and also helps to maintain regular energy levels and regulating blood sugar.

Leucine is another BCAA. It is the second most common amino acid found in proteins.. Leucine is an essential amino acid necessary for the optimal growth of infants and for the nitrogen balance in adults.

Lysine is an essential amino acid building block for all protein, and is needed for proper growth and bone development in children. Lysine helps the body absorb and conserve calcium and plays an important role in the formation of collagen. Lysine is used in managing and preventing painful and unsightly herpes sores.

Methionine is an essential amino acid that supplies sulphur and other compounds required by the body for normal metabolism and growth. Methionine is the principal methyl donor in the body and contributes to the synthesis of important substances, including epinephrine and choline. It helps remove fat from the liver.

Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid that plays a key role in the biosynthesis of other amino acids and some neurotransmitters. It is used to treat depression, rheumatoid arthritis, menstrual cramps, Parkinson’s disease, vitiligo and cancer.

Taurine helps regulate the contraction and pumping action of the heart muscle; and helps regulate blood pressure and platelet aggregation.

Threonine is involved in the formation of protein, collagen, elastin and tooth enamel. It is also important for production of neurotransmitters and health of the nervous system. It is an essential amino acid.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is a precursor for serotonin (a neurotransmitter) and melatonin (a neurohormone). Tryptophan may enhance relaxation and sleep, relieves minor premenstrual symptoms, soothes nerves and anxiety, and reduces carbohydrate cravings.

Tyrosine is a precursor of the adrenal hormone epinephrine, nor epinephrine, and the thyroid hormones, including thyroxin. L-tyrosine through its effect on neurotransmitters, is used to treat conditions including mood enhancement, appetite suppression, and growth hormone (HGH) stimulation.

Valine is another essential, branch-chain amino acid, that is a constituent of fibrous protein in the body, It has been found useful in treatments involving muscle, mental, and emotional upsets, and for insomnia and nervousness. Valine may help treat malnutrition associated with drug addiction.

It would be wonderful if doctors could prescribe amino acids, instead of drugs. There are some advanced doctors that are doing this today.

There is a good book that I would recommend Natural Highs Feel Good all the Time. The authors are Hyla Cass, M.D., and Patrick Holford. It covers the use of amino acids and other natural remedies.

I found that tryptophan worked for me. I was having trouble sleeping for several months and tried a number of herbal remedies that didn’t work. Right from the start tryptophan helped me go to sleep within minutes. I am also experimenting with Solgar’s L-carnitine, L-cysteine, L-lysine and L- tyrosine. I haven’t used them long enough to make any kind of an evaluation., yet.

Amino acids were first discovered in 1806, the French chemists Louis-Nicolas Vauquelin and Pierre Jean Robiquet isolated a compound in asparagus that proved to be asparagine, – the lst amino acid to be discovered. Another amino acid, cystine, was discovered in 1810, although its monomer, Cysteine was discovered much later, in 1884. Glycine and leucine were also discovered in 1820. Usage of the term amino acid came into the English language in 1898.

The future could be far rosier than it is today, if drugs could be dispensed with – and if health-restoring amino acids were incorporated. into the medical dispensary of every doctor. I realize that drugs are big business – but a time for change is coming, when people will demand nutritional elements, instead of toxic remedies to solve their health problems. I totally believe that amino acids could very well be the key to not only a longer life, but a healthier one as well.

Healthfully Yours,

Barbara Charis

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