What Are Essential and Nonessential Amino Acids?

essential amino acids foods

Do the term nonessential amino acids give you the notion that it is not required for your body? Well, that’s not the right concept to keep. Your body needs both essential and nonessential amino acids to function well. But the only difference lies in externally supplying yourself with essential amino acids and your body producing the nonessential ones.

Wondering what amino acids are? Well then, let us tell you that amino acids are organic compounds that possess amine and carboxyl with a long side chain along with it.

Both protein and amino acids are closely linked and are considered as builders of your life. Your body either digests the protein or breaks it down into amino acids. These broken-down amino acids help you in repairing body tissues, growing new cells, and much more.

You can classify these crucial compounds into conditionally, essential and nonessential amino acids. All three amino acids are necessary for your body’s functioning. So, aren’t you eager to know everything about amino acids? Worry not! The blog below will tell you about everything you need to know about amino acids and more! Please scroll down to learn it all!

What Are Essential Amino Acids?

Before we tell you, what are nonessential amino acids, let us focus on the essential amino acids.

You must keep in mind that amino acids are organic compounds consisting of hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon in addition to a side variable chain group.

For proper and healthy functioning, your body requires twenty kinds of amino acids. Even though your body needs all the twenty amino acids but only the nine amino acids are called essential amino acids.

The nine kinds of amino acids are valine, tryptophan, threonine, phenylalanine, methionine, lysine, leucine, isoleucine, and histidine.

When you are talking about the essential and nonessential amino acids, it would be best you keep in mind that your body cannot produce essential amino acids. You need to consume the essential amino acid rich foods to obtain them.

Some rich sources of essential amino acids are eggs, poultry, and meat. But numerous high protein vegetarian foods contain all the nine essential amino acids.

Also, it would help if you kept in mind when you consume protein-rich foods; your body breaks the protein into amino acids which helps further in keeping your immune system and muscles healthy.

What are non essential amino acids?

Do you think your body doesn’t require nonessential amino acids? Well, that’s not the right concept to have! These are important to repair and regrow tissues, form red blood cells, synthesize protein, and also helps in keeping your immune system healthy. But we are focusing on both essential and nonessential amino acids. You must know your body produces its nonessential amino acids. Your body can produce these acids when you supply your body with protein-rich foods.

The eleven nonessential amino acids include tyrosine, arginine, glutamine, proline, glycine, cysteine, serine, alanine, ornithine, aspartate, and asparagine. Among all these 11 nonessential amino acids, there are eight conditionally essential amino acids.

When your body is in a normal state, your body can produce the conditionally essential amino acids. But when you’re sick, stressed, or do not eat the adequate amount of carbohydrates and protein, your body may not be able to produce the right amount of conditionally essential amino acids. You can also call these conditional essential amino acids, semi-essential amino acids. Conditionally essential amino acids include ornithine, proline, serine, glycine, cysteine, tyrosine, glutamine, and arginine.

Role of Essential Amino Acids in Your Body

As you already know all the essential and nonessential amino acids list, but here we have mentioned in detail what the role all the essential amino acids play in your body.

Scroll down to know how these essential amino acids perform different functions in your body. Here are the following:

PhenylalanineThe neurotransmitters such as dopamine, tyrosine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine are the precursor of phenylalanine. It plays an essential part in the structure and functioning of enzymes and proteins. Also, phenylalanine is an essential amino acid that instigates the production of many more amino acids.

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Do you know what valine is? They are a chain of all the amino acids that forms a molecular structure. Your body requires valine for the production of energy, helps in stimulating the growth of muscle and degeneration too.


The threonine essential amino acid is primarily required in the structure-based proteins like elastin and collagen. Both these structural proteins are vital for all your connective and skin tissues. Also, other critical functions in threonine are immune system boosting and fat metabolism.


You might be familiar with the tryptophan, causing lethargy and fatigue. But it does have other essential functions too. It would help if you supplied yourself with tryptophan to maintain an average nitrogen balance and is also a precursor of serotonin. Are you wondering what serotonin does? Well, serotonin is a kind of neurotransmitter that can help in regulating your mood, appetite, and sleep.


Detoxification and body metabolism are very crucial in maintaining your body’s well-being. And to do that, your body requires methionine! Moreover, you also need this essential amino acid for the growth of tissue and also absorption of selenium and zinc. That’s because the absorption of these minerals is significant for your body.


Similar to valine, the leucine, essential amino acid is also a chain of amino acids in the form of a branch, that helps you in repairing muscles and even necessary for protein synthesis. You also require leucine for regulating your blood sugar levels, wound healing, and also for the growth of hormones.


You will find isoleucine also to have a branched form of amino acids. It is used for the metabolism of your muscles and for building up muscle tissues. Your body requires an adequate amount of isoleucine for boosting up your immunity, producing energy, and for increasing hemoglobin.


Lysine can help in producing enzymes and hormones. It also plays a crucial role in absorbing calcium and protein synthesis. Your body needs this essential amino acid to boost your immune system, produce elastin and collagen, and also energy production.


The essential amino acid histidine is a neurotransmitter that can regulate sexual functioning, digestion, sleep and waking to upcycle, and also immune response. Also, another vital function histidine performs is protects the myelin sheath. Wondering what myelin sheath does? It is a significant barrier that protects the nerve cells of your body.

Now that you know the essential and nonessential amino acids, you know how important it is to supply yourself with these acids. Although your body can produce nonessential amino acids, you need to provide yourself with the essential amino acids through foods.

So, now let us check out how the essential amino acids provide you with health benefits. Hang in there, and you’ll find out!

Health Benefits of Essential Amino Acids

Since we are highlighting this blog on the essential and nonessential amino acids, you should know everything about the health benefits it offers.

You can either supply yourself with the essential amino acids through foods or supplements. Both offer you with equal benefits. Here are the health benefits amino acids offers:

Helps in Improving Sleep and Mood

Your body requires tryptophan to produce serotonin. Wondering what serotonin does? It is a neurotransmitter that is required in your body. This helps in regulating your behavioral patterns, sleeping orders, and mood swings.

It is seen that when you have a low level of serotonin, you can have chances of sleep disturbances, mood swings, and depression. Numerous studies show that when you supplement your diet with tryptophan, your sleeping patterns might improve, boost your mood and reduce depression.

Another study done conducted on women who 60 years old and for 19 days. These participants were given supplements of tryptophan of one gram daily. It was seen their mood and energy levels were improved much more than any over-the-counter medications.

Boosts Your Exercising Ability

Your body requires all the three essential amino acids that are branched. This is needed to reduce body fatigue, stimulates muscle recovery after your exercise session, and also improves athletic ability.

A study done on sixteen athletes that are resistance-trained were given the supplements of amino acids. It was seen that in this study, the participants had increased bodily performance and also decreased muscle soreness and better recovery.

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Another study that was recently reviewed showed that consuming branched amino acids reduced muscle soreness and promoted muscle recovery better in comparison to other placebos.

Plus, it is also claimed that if you consume four grams of leucine each day for 12 weeks, your strength level will increase. This fact is also applicable for non-athletes.

Prevents Loss of Muscles

If you have an illness for a long time which is left untreated, you’re bound to have muscle loss. You will see this more impactful for people who are aged.

Your body requires essential amino acids to keep your body mass intact and also curb any chances of a breakdown of muscles.

A study done on 22 adults that were at bed rest were supplemented with amino acids for a period of 10 days. It was seen that when these adults were given 15 grams of amino acids, they had an improved muscle protein synthesis in comparison to placebo.

So, if you’re an athlete or are older who wants to preserve your body mass, then supplementing your body with essential amino acids can be helpful.

Promotes Weight Loss

Are you looking for a weight loss diet plan? Well, then start consuming the essential amino acids that are branched either through foods or supplements to promote weight loss.

Numerous studies show that if you consume essential branched amino acids, then you can trigger fat loss.

For instance, you will find a study done on thirty-six men for a period of eight-weeks were given 14 grams of amino acids that were branch chained daily. Within the end of the conducted period, the men had a much lower percentage of fat in comparison to whey protein.

So, here you can conclude that consuming branch-chained amino acids can help lose weight. But it would help if you kept in mind that consuming supplements might have other side effects too. So, try to consume these essential and non essential amino acids through foods.

Food Sources of Essential Amino Acids

Since you already know everything about the essential and nonessential amino acids, let us now tell you about how your needs to supply it.

Your body can produce its nonessential amino acids, but you need to supply the essential amino acids into your daily diet.

Luckily, we have several foods that are rich in essential amino acids, and consuming them is an easy task. Below we have made a list of all the food sources and how much you need to consume daily.

So, now let us focus on the food sources. Here are the following:

Lean Meat

Lean meats are a great source of protein. So, you can try consuming beef, turkey, etc., and supply yourself with high amounts of protein. But try not to consume meats that have a layer of fat on it.


Seafood like shrimps, oysters, etc. is a huge source of protein and other important nutrients. So, start including them into your diet.


Lean chicken is an excellent protein source. It consists of other important nutrients too. But here too you need to keep in mind about not consuming the chicken skin.

Omega 3 in Eggs


Eggs are a great breakfast option. You can consume eggs if you’re vegetarian and supply your diet with the perfect protein boost.

Dairy Products

Products like yogurt and milk can supply your body with essential amino acids through the protein it contains.

Buckwheat, quinoa, and soy

If you’re vegan, numerous foods are high in protein and can supply it to you sufficiently. All the products of soy, quinoa, and buckwheat are excellent protein sources that can keep you in good health and provide you with the perfect nourishment.

Beans and Legumes

Another rich protein source is legumes like lentils and numerous beans. But it would help if you kept in mind that they are not a complete source of essential amino acids. Most plant-based sources of protein might lack one or more than one crucial amino acid your body requires.

So, it would help if you balanced out your diet well by supplying yourself with other foods that contain all the essential amino acids. If you’re vegan, you can always include whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, and veggies that have all the nine essential amino acids.

Final Thoughts

Aren’t all the food sources mentioned enough to make a healthy diet for you? So, now plan out your diet well, and include all the rich protein sources to provide yourself with the essential amino acids.

But always remember that both essential and nonessential amino acids are crucial for your health. Go ahead and fill your shopping cart with all the protein-rich foods to keep yourself healthy!