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What are amino acids and explain their importance?

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torrey | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted June 8, 2010 at 10:39 AM via web

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What are amino acids and explain their importance?

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dastice | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted June 8, 2010 at 12:11 PM (Answer #1)

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Amino acids are commonly referred to as "building blocks" of the body.  Proteins, which make up our muscles, tendons, organs, glands, nails, and hair, are composed of these chemical compounds.  Amino acids contribute to the healthy functioning of the nervous system, muscular structure, hormone production, and vital organs, and are necessary for the growth, repair and maintenance of cells in the body.

There are two types of amino acids.  Essential amino acids must come from the diet as the body cannot make its own.  These include arginine (necessary for children, but not for adults), histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.  The body does not store excess amino acids as it does with fats and starches, so essential amino acids need to be part of a person's daily diet.  Non-essential acids are those which the body can manufacture from other sources.

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dano7744 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted June 8, 2010 at 4:16 PM (Answer #2)

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Amino acids are the constituents of proteins, the main role that protein plays is one of repair and building. Proteins build and repair tissue in the body. Most enzymes are composed of proteins, enzymes are necessary to facilitate biochemical reactions in the cells.

The body is in a constant state of breakdown and repair, you are constantly losing cells and building new cells. For example, when you go to the sink and wash your hands, thousands of epidermal cells are lost by the friction of scrubbing the hands together. Amino acids are needed to form proteins to allow your body to build new skin cells. Another good example is the GI tract, cells that line the tract are lost daily every time to have a bowel movement, amino acids and proteins are needed to replace these cells that you lose.

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