Amino acids are organic compounds that combine to form proteins. Amino acids and proteins are the building blocks of life.
When proteins are digested or broken down, amino acids are left. The human body needs a number of amino acids to:
Amino acids are classified into three groups:
Essential amino acids
Nonessential amino acids
Conditional amino acids
You do not need to eat essential and nonessential amino acids at every meal, but getting a balance of them over the whole day is important.
Trumbo P, Schlicker S, Yates AA, Poos M; Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, The National Academies. Dietary reference intakes for energy, carbohydrate, fiber, fat, fatty acids, cholesterol, protein and amino acids. J Am Diet Assoc. 2002;102(11):1621-1630.
Escott-Stump S, eds. Nutrition and Diagnosis-Related Care. 6th ed. Philadelphia Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2008.
Reviewed by: A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, and David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by Alison Evert, MS, RD, CDE, Nutritionist, University of Washington Medical Center, Diabetes Care Center, Seattle, Washington (2/8/2011).
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