1: Amino acids needed in your diet
There are 20 standard amino acids, each with specific functions in the human body. 9 of the 20 are termed essential, since they cannot be produced by humans and therefore must be supplemented through the diet. These are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. Of the 11 non-essential amino acids, 6 are termed conditionally essential. We normally produce them in the levels needed but illness and stress are conditions that lead to demands for extra ingestion of these amino acids.
2: Foods with all essential amino acids
Complete proteins are food sources that contain all essential amino acids at once. These include meat, poultry, dairy products, eggs and seafood, as well as plant-based foods, such as soy, quinoa and buckwheat. Several of these or similar protein sources should be included in your diet to ensure a well-functioning body that can produce the desired proteins from the 20 standard amino acids.
3: Amino acid levels are monitored in drug production
When looking at people’s nutrition, the amino acid content in tissue, serum and other body fluids are analysed. On the other hand, free amino acids are characterised in food supplements to get an overview of the nutritional significance in the product.
In drug production, cell cultures can be influenced to produce desirable proteins. It is of highest importance that their conditions are the best possible to yield high amounts and high-quality products. For this purpose, the amino acid uptake and release in the cultures are monitored and used to asses how the cells are behaving.
4: How amino acid levels are analysed
Several methods are available for determination of amino acid content in medicines, protein supplement and food products. A common approach for amino acid analysis is based on the technique called chromatography. It can easily quantify and characterise the amount of each type of amino acid by separating them based on their unique chemical abilities. A mixture of various amino acids is put on to a sticky column, where they run through and are released one type at a time. A distinct colour on each type allows for determination of the amount by measuring the colours. The method can be used for different sample types, e.g. medicine and foods, with only few adjustments needed.