Essential Amino Acid: Dosage, Benefits and Food Sources

Have you ever just felt… off? Maybe you have been experiencing malaise, or feeling like your body is not functioning as well as it normally does, or once did. 

This can feel scary, like your health and quality of life is wavering, but you do not know why. You might start worrying about what the culprit could be and how you can improve this feeling fast. You feel like you have not changed anything major in your lifestyle, habits or daily routine. So why this sudden onset of unwellness? 

Well, you feel like you have not changed anything major in your life. But is that really true? Sometimes, small changes to seemingly nominal parts of your life turn into outcomes with major effects. 

Have you not been consuming the right amino acids in foods? 

You might not realize how big of a role amino acids play in your everyday life. You might be wondering things like: 

“Can I get a guide on amino acids explained?”

“Are there any sorts of negative effects I can expect, like a nasty amino acid residue or something similar?”

“How far does it go? Are the benefits just like an amino acids hair treatment, or what?”

“When it comes to amino acids, how many is too many? How many is the right amount?” 

“What is the structure of amino acids? What goes into making essential amino acids, and what about nonessential amino acids? What are the amino acids benefits? Why should I care?” 

Wonder no more. Today, we are going to touch on all your many questions about amino acids. 

What Are Amino Acids?

You need 20 various amino acids to keep your health in line and allow your body to function properly. There are nine essential amino acids. These are the ones that you need to get through your foods to combat those feelings of malaise and imbalance. 

In general, they are different compounds that create proteins once they combine. 

Say that you eat a food that is rich in protein. Your digestive system will then produce amino acids by breaking down that protein’s chemical formula. After that, your body will combine those newfound amino acids, and use those amino acids’ energy to carry out bodily functions

Remember those nine amino acids, essential to your health? You get them from food. The other 11 come from your body naturally producing them on its own. So you do not need to get those 11 from food in most cases. 

In other words, this is the difference between essential and nonessential amino acids. The essential ones are your responsibility to consume. The nonessential ones are your body’s natural responsibility to produce, because you cannot get them through your diet. 

Here are the compounds that comprise amino acids

  • Nitrogen
  • Carbon 
  • Hydrogen 
  • Oxygen 
  • A variable side chain group 

What Do Amino Acids Do in the Human Body?

Amino acids have countless roles in the human body. Here is a brief overview of those roles, before we get into the more detailed amino acids benefits and roles: 

  • Build muscles 
  • Create bodily chemical reactions 
  • Prevent and fight against illness 
  • Transport nutrients where they need to go in the rest of your body 
  • Combat stress 

And when you experience an amino acid deficiency, you can experience a lot of those undesirable side effects that we mentioned earlier. Some of those can include: 

  • Weakened immune system 
  • Issues with digestion and stomach upset 
  • Depression 
  • Lack of focus and ability to remain alert for longer periods of time
  • Developmental delays and growth issues in children 
  • Problems with fertility 
  • Countless other health-related problems

But to know what amino acids do exactly in your body, you have to understand the different types. Each type, each amino acid molecule, has a different job to carry out in your body. So keep reading to find out more about those types. 

Amino Acid DosageAmino Acid Dosage

As we said, your body cannot make essential amino acids by itself. This is where you come in, with either consuming them through the food you eat or supplementing your diet. 

There are several contributing factors that vary as far as dosage, but let’s go over some general rules of thumb. 

The U.S. recommended daily allowances (RDA) for the nine essential amino acids, per 2.2 pounds of body weight, are: 

  • Histidine: 14 milligrams 
  • Isoleucine: 19 milligrams
  • Leucine: 42 milligrams
  • Lysine: 38 milligrams
  • Methionine: 19 milligrams
  • Phenylalanine: 33 milligrams
  • Threonine: 20 milligrams
  • Tryptophan: 5 milligrams
  • Valine: 24 milligrams

Let’s look over an example of a certain condition, and the amino acid dosage that goes along with it. 

Patients with hepatic encephalopathy as a result of cirrhosis or hepatitis use amino acid to treat their condition. For these patients, medical professionals recommend they take 80 to 120 grams of amino acids daily. 

But you are different. You are your own person, with your own health needs and goals. So let’s dive deeper. 

Role and Benefits of Amino Acids

So what are the specific amino acids health benefits? Why might they apply to your lifestyle? 

Get ready, because we are about to explore all of that right now, with the top four amino acids examples that cover their roles and benefits. But as you start to explore with us, keep in mind that you will find amino acids in more sources than just that of foods in your diet. You can also experience these benefits from concentrated supplement forms. 

Enhance the Quality of Your Mood and Sleep

You may have heard of serotonin, the mood-stabilizing chemical messenger in your brain. It is one of your body’s key neurotransmitters. But you cannot produce serotonin without the amino acid tryptophan. 

And you cannot regulate your mood, behaviors and sleep cycles without the vital help of serotonin. 

Studies over the decades have shown us that low serotonin levels result in depression, depressive mood swings and trouble sleeping. (Or staying asleep, with little to no interruptions in your sleep cycle.) 

But tryptophan might play more of a role in these mood and behavioral issues than you once believed. 

Tryptophan, when you supplement your diet with this amino acid, could: 

  • Lower, or even eliminate, the symptoms and anguish that come with depression. 
  • Boost your mood as a whole. 
  • Leave you with a good night’s sleep, every night. 

There was also a 19-day clinical trial with 60 older women. After taking 1 gram of tryptophan a day, versus a placebo, they had higher energy levels and a happier outlook and mood. 

Boost Your Physical Performance

There are some people who love exercising. They turn to their local running paths when they are feeling too stressed from work. They might have an argument with their loved one and head to their closest YMCA for a cycling or yoga class. Their favorite form of a holiday gift is a gym membership renewal. 

But for the rest of us, the idea of a high-intensity workout session causes us more stress than relaxation. You know you need exercise for mental and physical clarity and wellness. But taking those initial steps to go to the gym or do some morning stretches just isn’t something you look forward to every day. 

That’s okay too! Everyone is different. But did you know that one of the reasons you might feel so unmotivated to workout is because of a lack of amino acids in your diet? 

Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) can: 

  • Help get you over that hump of fatigue. 
  • Allow your muscles to recover after a particularly intense workout. 
  • And give you that boost you need in your athletic performance. 

There are a number of studies that indicate these conclusions in comparison to taking a placebo. That goes for untrained athletes and non-workout junkies too. 

Prevent the Breakdown of Your Muscles

As you get older, there are a lot of medical issues that leave you bed-ridden. Even if you are not an older individual, you might have a condition or illness that ends with you stuck in bed for an extended period of time. 

That sort of bed rest means that your muscles can deteriorate, and your lean body mass can diminish. 

But essential amino acids can help fight this scary outcome, head-on. 

22 older adults who were on bed rest participated in a 10-day study to contribute to the research here. And they took 15 grams of mixed essential amino acids. When they did, their bodies were able to keep up with muscle protein synthesis. And as a result, the group who took a placebo instead of the amino acids had a 30 percent decline in muscle protein synthesis. 

Might Help Your Body to Promote Weight Loss

Even if you have trouble finding the motivation to exercise, you still want to lose that stubborn belly fat. But we have some more good news for you. Not only can amino acids help you with athletic performance, but they could also help you to lose weight. 

There are studies on both humans and animals that support this idea. 

One study on rats showed that they had less body weight and fat after supplementing their diet with leucine. 

And another one took place on 36 men over the course of eight weeks. This one ended with a much lower body fat percentage after a daily intake of 14 grams BCAA. That is comparative with when the subjects took sports or whey protein drinks to supplement their diet. 

Amino Acids Natural Food Sources

Amino Acid Natural Food Sources

We already went over the fact that there are too many potential benefits of amino acid supplements to count. But what about the natural food sources that you can find amino acids in? 

Sometimes, you might not want to supplement your diet with any sort of vitamin or mineral. Maybe you do not like swallowing pills to get your daily intake of nutrients. Perhaps you have a medical condition that prohibits you from taking supplements in their entirety. 

No matter the reason, we get that there are occasionally times where the possibility of a supplement is off the table. Not to worry, though. You might not get as concentrated of a dose, but you can still get your amino acid intake through certain foods. 

The foods that have all nine of the essential amino acids are known as “complete proteins.” Here are some of the natural foods where you can find those essential amino acids: 

  • Seafood 
  • Meat
  • Poultry 
  • Dairy products 
  • Eggs

And of course, those foods are not a possibility when you follow a strict vegan, vegetarian or some form of a plant-based diet. This is when supplements might feel like your only option. But the good news is that there are some plant-based foods that are complete proteins as well, like: 

  • Soy
  • Buckwheat 
  • Quinoa 

Beans and nuts, on the other hand, are incomplete proteins. But you may be able to work hard and combine several incomplete proteins to get your full necessary intake of amino acids every day. 

The 9 Essential Amino Acids

Okay, so we know that the pressure might be on for us to tell you more about those nine essential amino acids. 

What are they? What are their names? What are their functions? And what are they really all about? 

Look no further. Below, you will find all the details you need to know, from lysine to leucine and everything that falls in between. Without further ado, here we go. 

1. Lysine

Lysine is the first type of essential amino acid we have to tell you about today. 

First off, this one has some serious antiviral benefits. But there is more to it than that. Here are some of the other benefits and roles of lysine as an amino acid: 

  • Muscle building 
  • Bone strength maintenance 
  • Help with recovery after a surgery (major or minor) or injury (again, major or minor)
  • Hormone, antibody and enzyme regulation 

One animal study implies that a lysine deficiency could lead to anxiety, relative to stress levels. 

2. Histidine

Histidine has an incredible number of health benefits. 

Here are some of them (but certainly not all!): 

  • Help with growth and development 
  • Blood cell production 
  • Repair of tissues 
  • Maintenance of the myelin sheath (which is the unique protective sheath that covers your nerve cells) 

Also, your body works to convert histidine into histamine. You need histamine for: 

  • Immune health 
  • Reproductive system function 
  • Digestion 

If you struggle with obesity or metabolic issues, studies show that a histidine supplement may help to reduce your BMI and trouble with insulin resistance. 

Histidine deficiency can cause: 

  • Anemia 
  • Kidney disease
  • Arthritis 
  • Reduced blood levels 

3. Threonine

You can find threonine in the enamel of your teeth. You also have it in your skin’s collagen and elastin. So if you want healthy hair, skin and nails, you should prioritize threonine in your diet. 

But it can also help you with: 

  • Immune function and maintenance
  • Fat metabolism 
  • Mild depression and the symptoms that come with it 
  • Indigestion 
  • Anxiety 

4. Phenylalanine

Have you ever seen that advisory statement on the nutrition labels of, well, just about anything you find in the store? The one that mentions something about the product containing phenylalanine? If you do not have a condition that means you have to avoid this, you might not know much about it. But you should. 

Phenylalanine is an amino acid that allows your body to use other amino acids, enzymes and proteins. After consuming it, your body can turn phenylalanine into tyrosine. And you need tyrosine for your brain to function the right way. 

But you may want to watch how much of this one you consume, like the large amounts that come in diet soda recipes with the artificial sweetener aspartame. Too much of it can cause: 

  • Anxiety 
  • Jitters 
  • Disruption in your sleep cycles 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, a phenylalanine deficiency can cause: 

  • Trouble gaining weight and keeping it on in developing babies 
  • Fatigue 
  • Cognitive and memory issues
  • Skin conditions like eczema 

5. Valine

You might need to increase your daily intake of valine if you have been going through: 

  • A lack of calm, level-headed emotions and responses to your surroundings 
  • Diminished clarity, alertness and mental focus 
  • Little to no muscle coordination 
  • Low energy levels 
  • Trouble growing your muscles 
  • A tough time with tissue repair 

If you have a valine deficiency, you could experience insomnia and less overall mental function than usual. 

Isoleucine6. Isoleucine

You can find isoleucine mainly in your muscle tissue. 

Isoleucine is responsible for: 

  • Regulating your blood sugar 
  • Producing  your hormones 
  • Healing your wounds 
  • Your immune system function
  • Energy production and regulation 

As you get older, it is more common to go through an isoleucine deficiency. This can lead to muscle shaking and other issues with your muscular system. 

7. Methionine

Methionine is an essential amino acid, but you will find it working closely with the nonessential amino acid cysteine. The two work together to keep your hair, skin and nails strong and healthy, like threonine also does. 

Here are some of its other properties and benefits: 

  • Selenium absorption 
  • Zinc absorption 
  • Heavy metal removal (like mercury and lead, to name a couple)

8. Tryptophan

Tryptophan has plenty of benefits, and we touched on it earlier, if only in short. 

You need it for the proper production of serotonin, but you also need it to produce melatonin. Melatonin is what regulates a healthy sleep cycle. The purpose of serotonin as a neurotransmitter is to help your body keep the following areas of your life healthy: 

  • Mood balance
  • Pain regulation 
  • Appetite
  • Sleep 

Infants also need tryptophan to grow according to the right milestones and percentiles. You will find this amino acid in many sleep aids as a gentle sedative. A good night’s rest with the help of tryptophan may allow for appropriate emotional processing in women. With it, you also might experience better mental and emotional energy. 

Pellagra happens when you have a tryptophan deficiency. The results of this health problem can cause: 

  • Rashes 
  • Trouble with proper digestion 
  • And even dementia 

9. Leucine

Last of all, leucine is an essential amino acid that can help your body to: 

  • Grow your muscles and bones 
  • Repair your muscles and bones 
  • Heal wounds 
  • Produce growth hormone
  • Regulate your blood sugar 

If you have a leucine deficiency, you can expect hair loss, chronic tiredness and rashes. 


Here at Dirobi, we know there is no one-size-fits-all approach or solution to your healthy-living journey. And we tailor your supplements and total strategy to match that. 

Dave Sherwin, Dirobi owner, is a certified fitness nutrition coach. He offers 20-minute consultations to dial in your supplement strategy, so click here to schedule your consultation now. 

And you can check out our reviews to see what health gurus like you have to say about their experience with Dirobi. 

We use scientific research to back what goes into all our products to ensure you have the best health at every age. Mimi’s Miracle Cell Fuel is a perfect example of that, which we designed to be the highest-quality oxygen supplement on the market. It has the vital minerals and amino acids that your body needs to thrive. 

And we also know that your supplements are more than amino acids’ hair health benefits, or a one-stop shop for immediate boosted health. This is why we have a podcast and blog for you to dive into, with helpful health information and tips to be the best version of you. 

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