Amino Acids (AA) are the building blocks of proteins, hormones, neurotransmitters and antioxidants. They are the fundamental components in the structure of every cell in the human body. There are 20 Amino Acids that are directly encoded by the universal genetic code. These 20 amino acids are joined together in unique sequences to perform millions of biological functions including tissue repair, cognitive and neurological functions, the regulation of vitamins, minerals and hormones, and also methylation and gene expression. Any amino acid missing or in short supply affects the availability of others and over time the deficit of these vital nutrients may create an imbalance in the body, leading to illness and disease. Conversely, their ability to support the body and bring it back to a state of homeostasis (balance), health and vitality is well documented.
Nine of the amino acids are referred to as “essential” as they can only be acquired through the diet. The remaining 11 are synthesized in the body through the utilization of essential AA, and thus they are classified as “non-essential” amino acids. Within this group of non-essential amino acids there is a third class, referred to as “conditionally essential”. These amino acids, although synthesized in the body through the use of essential AA and other nutrients, become depleted quickly simply because the demand outweighs the supply. This is typically demonstrated in times of stress; for example, high levels of cortisol reduce glutamine stores, as do illness and injury. When low supplies become perpetual, health can be comprimised.
Sourcing Amino Acids
Amino Acids are found in nearly all food sources to one degree or another. A complete protein source contains all nine essential amino acids. This would include all animal-based proteins as well as soy, quinoa, buckwheat and chia. When we consume and then digest any protein source, the amino acid components are broken down in the stomach by hydrochloric acid (HCL) and then further reduced in the small intestine. When conversion to a micro-nutrient is completed, they pass through the intestinal wall travelling to the liver for distribution and utilization. The exception to this are amino acids called branch chain (i.e. leucine, isoleucine and valine), they are sequestered directly into muscle and tissue and are not processed by the liver. When amino acid requirements are not being met by the diet, supplementation serves as a viable option to replenish and maintain levels in the body.
Peptide Bond and Free Form Amino Acids
Amino Acids in food are joined together by peptide bonds and through digestion they are broken down into individual amino acids. Free form amino acids are single, stand-alone amino acids that are not joined together by peptide bonds. Supplemental forms of single amino acids are in a free form state and when consumed they are utilized very quickly, offering quick and effective results. To expedite the action of an amino acid, they should be taken on an empty stomach.
L-Glutamine, is one of the AA classified as a conditionally essential amino acid. Although it is one of the most abundant AA in the human body we are often in a state of deficiency because of its extensive use in the body. Glutamine is critical for wound healing, muscle repair and recover, immune function, metabolism, growth (it increases production of Human Growth Hormone), blood sugar regulation, cell hydration, and gastrointestinal health.
The Gastrointestinal Tract
In addition to its important role in digestion, absorption and secretion, the gastrointestinal epithelium serves as a barrier to the entry of toxins, allergens and pathogens from the lumen into the blood stream, organs, and tissue. Barrier disruption and the diffusion of these substances (leaky gut) are known to produce mucosal inflammation and tissue injury. The disruption of gut barrier function plays a crucial role in the onset of numerous gastrointestinal diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), celiac disease, and others. Specialized junctional complexes called tight junctions provide the intestinal epithelial barrier. Loss of tight junction integrity and increased intestinal permeability to macromolecules are associated with the onset of IBD, IBS, and celiac disease as well being a catalyst for many autoimmune and inflammatory diseases as well. Specific nutrients help to preserve the integrity of the gut barrier and are beneficial in the recovery from leaky gut and other gastrointestinal diseases. L-Glutamine has been shown to be one of those nutrients that plays a vital role in the maintenance of mucosal integrity.
L-Glutamine and Intestinal Repair – A Leaky Gut Support System
Circulating and tissue levels of glutamine drop drastically after infection, injury and trama. As glutamine is vital for rebuilding and maintaining gut lining integrity, it may be depleted in an individual with Leaky Gut Syndrome. L-Glutamine is the principle fuel in the maintenance of the mucosal lining, increasing the thickness of the mucosa. Secretory IgA related immunity is supported by l-glutamine. In the presence of IgA, glutamine strengthens the intestinal barrier and reduces bacterial adherence to the intestinal lining, while diminishing translocation of the bacteria. Furthermore, it is needed for the production of mucin, the protective mucus layer in the gut. In combination with specific nutrients and diet changes, glutamine has been shown to help facilitate the repair and recovery from Leaky Gut Syndrome. The dosing recommendation for this purpose is a minimum of 5000 mg per day.
NOW® Amino Acids
NOW® offers a full line of amino acids. L-glutamine is available in as little as 500 mg per capsule to 1500 mg per tablet, as well as powered formats in several different sizes. Purity and quality are cornerstones of the NOW brand. All products within any given category undergo a minimum of 97 different quality tests to ensure identity, purity and efficacy.
– Marva Ward CNP
This Amino Acid Guide can help you, your family and friends find the right product for managing some of the common, and not-so-common ailments.