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At one time or another, you may have heard of amino acids being referred to as the building blocks of life. Twenty percent of the human body is comprised of protein, and amino acids are what protein is made up of. Amino acids are required for the body to properly transport and store nutrients, as well as for every single metabolic function.
Unfortunately, due to environmental toxins, antibiotics and hormones in our food, and other various factors, stores of specific amino acids are often depleted. Those with metabolic disorders, which are increasingly prevalent today, are typically increasingly deficient in amino acids.
Without proper levels of amino acids, the body does not function as it should and deteriorating health can be the result. It is definitely worth taking seriously!
While all amino acids are important to health, wellness, and longevity, today I am going to focus on three particular amino acids that provide benefits that are worth a second look: arginine, taurine, and glutamine.
Arginine, also known as L-arginine, is a powerful, naturally occurring nutrient that is found in several forms of animal protein such as eggs, dairy products, pork, beef, poultry, gelatin, and seafood (highest in shellfish). Arginine is also found in seeds, nuts, wheat, chickpeas, garlic, and soybeans.
When in the body, Arginine converts into nitric oxide – a potent neurotransmitter responsible for improving circulation and relaxing the blood vessels. Arginine has become well known, and has gained media attention in recent years, for improving cardiovascular health, but its benefits do not end there.
Because poor circulation and impaired immune system function silently lurk behind numerous health issues, arginine supplementation can offer an affordable treatment option for those with a wide variety of health concerns. Let’s take a look at the numerous health benefits of arginine:
Benefits of Arginine
- Arginine reinforces the immune system, protecting against illness and infection.
- Increases the pituitary’s ability to release the human growth hormone (HGH), resulting in healthier skin and improved hair growth and health.
- Promotes blood circulation and improves blood flow.
- Reduces body fat and increases muscle mass. It has therefore become a very popular supplement for body builders and others who take part in a regular demanding exercise regime.
- Studies suggest that arginine supplementation may support the reversal of atherosclerosis.
- Increases the production of sperm and sperm motility, therefore improving male fertility.
- Acts as an anti-carcinogenic by reducing the growth rate of cancerous tumors, increasing the delivery of oxygen to the cells, and reactivating T-cells.
- Some studies suggest that arginine deficiency may be a significant factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Supplementing with arginine may slow down the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Arginine is proven to be an important component when it comes to wound healing and injury recovery, and has been shown to greatly reduce healing and hospitalization time.
- Assists the kidneys in their primary function of eliminating waste from the body, balancing sodium and water, and maintaining neuro-hormonal balance.
- Improves the flow of blood through the all of the arteries, thereby enhancing the health of the heart. Arginine has demonstrated promise for those with various arterial conditions such as clogged arteries, coronary artery disease, or angina.
- Reduces blood pressure, by dilating the blood vessels, regulating the layer of smooth cells that line the blood vessels – thereby reducing spasms and constrictions and the related ill effects.
- Due to promoting blood flow and circulation, arginine has been shown to help with erectile dysfunction and low libido for both men and women.
- Administering arginine to those hospitalized for acute pain associated with sickle cell disease has been proven to help with pain reduction and to reduce a patient’s hospitalization time.
- Reduces the pain associated with Raynaud’s syndrome, by improving circulation.
- Topical arginine gel provides an affordable treatment for those suffering from anal fissures, by increasing blood flow to this sensitive area.
- Studies suggest that arginine may improve glucose sensitivity in those with type 2 diabetes, potentially stabilizing blood sugar levels and minimizing insulin requirements.
Taurine is an essential amino acid associated with a long life span, improved cardiovascular health, and electrolyte balance. Americans are often deficient in Taurine, and it is especially powerful for those with cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, or liver disease.
Vegetarians and vegans frequently have Taurine deficiencies. Taurine is found in red grass-fed meat, eggs, fish, sea vegetables, spirulina, and brewer’s yeast. It is hypothesized that the long life span of those in Japan, is due largely to the regular ingestion of foods containing Taurine.
Benefits of Taurine
- The heart-protecting benefits are strong with this one. In fact, in one particular animal research study, administering Taurine reduced the rate of death by heart failure by 80%. Taurine increases the absorption of the vital minerals magnesium and potassium in the heart, which in turn helps to stabilize and regulate heart muscle contractions.
- Taurine helps to curb obesity by systematically improving glucose tolerance and lowering lipid levels within the bloodstream. This process provides added protection against type 2 diabetes and a variety of cardiovascular concerns.
- Taurine naturally produces a compound that increases the excretion of cholesterol in the bile, which results in lower cholesterol levels. High cholesterol is correlated with cardiovascular disease and gradual hardening of the arteries.
- Taurine has been shown to have a calming effect on the central nervous system by raising levels of Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
- Taurine has been shown to diminish racing thoughts and reduce anxiety levels.
- Assists with the body’s natural ability to metabolize fat, therefore boosting energy levels.
- Improves insulin sensitivity by decreasing inflammation in the hypothalamus, and supports the functioning of the pancreas.
- Raises testosterone levels, contributing to optimal reproductive health.
- Taurine assists the body in maintaining a state of homeostasis.
- Lowers blood pressure.
- Taurine promotes a restful night’s sleep, and reduces the effects of insomnia.
- Improves cognitive function and information retention.
- High amounts of Taurine are found within the retina in the eye, and supplementation of taurine can reduce and even reverse visual deteriorations and retinal lesions. It can also help to protect the eye from toxins, remove damaging molecules, and guards against macular degeneration.
- Assists the liver with its important job of detoxifying the body and filtering out harmful compounds, by protecting the liver cells against oxidative damage.
- Taurine inhibits the development of atherosclerosis.
- Protects against hearing loss and tinnitus by helping to support the flow of calcium entering and exiting the hearing cells in the ear, which enhances auditory discrimination and improves the functioning of the auditory pathway.
Glutamine, or L-Glutamine, is the most prevalent free amino acid in the body, supporting the organs, muscles, blood, and brain.
Glutamine is found in grass-fed beef, bone broth, asparagus, wild-caught fish, bison, eggs, chicken, red cabbage, and dairy products. Adding a scoop of pure grass-fed whey protein to a daily fruit and veggie shake is an excellent way to up the amount of Glutamine in your diet!
Benefits of Glutamine
- Glutamine plays a large role in supporting neurological functioning, as a crucial neurotransmitter, and improves memory and concentration. Research has demonstrated that Glutamine provides a valuable and potent energy source for neuronal cells.
- Reduces and often diminishes cravings for sugar and alcohol.
- Helps to prevent, repair, and reverse leaky gut by restoring the wall of the intestines and decreasing intestinal permeability – making Glutamine essential for those with inflammatory conditions such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease or irritable bowel syndrome.
- Reduces the symptoms associated with food allergies, potentially due to its profound gut-restoring ability.
- Balances mucus production in the body, resulting in less intestinal upset and increased regularity.
- Promotes muscle growth and supports recovery after endurance exercise. Glutamine can be quickly depleted after vigorous exercise, so it is key to eat a meal high in protein after exercising.
- Nitrogen is a primary element of Glutamine, making Glutamine responsible for the transporting essential nitrogen to the muscles.
- Glutamine supports cardiovascular health by regulating the synthesis of nitric oxide, which serves to reduce inflammation in the walls of the blood vessels. Glutamine also provides an energy source for the cells that line the blood vessels.
- Aids hydration by supporting cells as they absorb water and decreasing the loss of electrolytes, which in turn helps ensure the absorption of vital nutrients.
- Supports detoxification.
- Has been shown to cure ulcers by repairing the damage caused by the ulcer-causing bacteria H. pylori. In fact, Glutamine is the first line treatment for ulcers in Asia.
- Aids in the recovery speeds up the healing process for wounds and infections.
Health enthusiast, runner, protein nut. Owen likes to write about protein, particularly alternatve supplementation and supplement comparisons.