Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, which are essential to the structure and function of all living cells. There are 20 different amino acids that can be used to make proteins, and these differ in their structure and function.
Amino acids are classified as either essential or non-essential. Essential amino acids cannot be made by the body and must be obtained from the diet. Non-essential amino acids can be made by the body from other amino acids or from other nutrients in the diet.
Amino acids are joined together to form proteins through a process called peptide bond formation. Peptide bonds are formed when the carboxyl group of one amino acid reacts with the amino group of another amino acid.
This reaction produces a molecule of water and links the two amino acids together. The sequence of amino acids in a protein is determined by the sequence of nucleotides in the gene that encodes the protein.
Foods that contain amino acids include meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, and soy products. Grains and vegetables also contain small amounts of amino acids.
Amino acids are important for many reasons. They are needed for the growth and repair of tissues, the production of hormones and enzymes, and the regulation of body processes. Amino acids are also a source of energy for the body.
When amino acids are digested, they are broken down into smaller units called peptides. Peptides are then absorbed into the bloodstream and transported to the cells of the body.
Once in the cells, peptides are broken down into amino acids and used for a variety of purposes, including building proteins, producing enzymes, regulating metabolism, supporting immune function, and providing energy.