Amino Acid Supplements
and Your Immune System Health
Vitamins and minerals aren't the only things you need for a healthy immune system.
Amino acid supplements can also be important.
Everyone knows that amino acids are the building blocks of protein.
But did you know:
- That the proteins they create are responsible for almost all the reactions that take place inside a living cell?
- That, unlike fat and carbs, amino acids cannot be stored by the body?
- That if you are missing even one of the essential amino acids in your diet, your body will break down muscle or other protein stores to make it?
No? Well, don't worry! You're certainly not alone.
At least now you know how important amino acids are to your health.
Let's look more specifically at those amino acid supplements that boost your immune system.
There are two type of amino acids:
Essential and Nonessential.
Nonessential means that our bodies can make it so we don't need to seek it out in our diet.
Essential means that our bodies cannot make it so we need to get it from food or supplements.
Arginine is conditionally essential. This means that your body can normally make enough of it, but under certain circumstances you'll need to get more through diet. Such circumstances include dealing with severe burns, growth spurts, injuries, wound healing, and infections.
Notice that last one - infections? Whenever the immune system is getting a good challenge, this is one of the amino acid supplements that can help.
Good food sources of arginine include dairy products, beef, chicken and fish.
If you want to take the powder form of this nutrient, then 1-3 grams per day should do while fighting the infection. For even more benefit, pair it up with lysine (see below).
Glutamine is the most abundant of all the nonessential amino acids found in the human body. Like arginine, it is also considered conditionally essential. When you are sick, under stress, or have suffered an injury, your body will be looking to your diet or supplements for help.
So, yes, this is another one of the important amino acid supplements for enhancing the immune system.
You see, glutamine is the main energy source for the immune system. So we always need a lot of it - but when battling an illness we need a LOT more.
If our levels of this amino acid get too low, our immune cells lose strength and struggle to fight off whatever is attacking us.
But when we give our bodies this amino acid supplement, the immune system comes on strong. You'll need a lot though - it can take anywhere from 5-20 grams daily to boost the immune system.
That kind of dose would be hard to get from food alone. Still, good sources of glutamine are beef, chicken, fish, eggs, and dairy products.
If this supplement interests you, you could buy the powdered form of glutamine and take a few teaspoons daily during an illness.
Lysine is an essential amino acid, so our bodies cannot make it and we need to obtain this nutrient through food or supplements.
As I mentioned before, consuming both lysine with arginine will give you the full effects of boosting immune system strength. For this purpose, take 1-3 grams daily of both at the same time while fighting off an illness.
The good news is that most of us get plenty of this nutrient through diet alone.
Good sources of lysine include beef and poultry. So if you eat enough meat, you won't have to concern yourself with supplementation.
If you eat very little meat, or none at all, then you will definitely need to include this along with other amino acid supplements.
As a little aside - if you do buy an amino acid formula, always take it on an empty stomach with a full glass of water.
Taurine is considered a nonessential amino acid, meaning our bodies can manufacture it.
It actually does not go into the protein supply like most other amino acids. Instead taurine's job is to protect cell membranes. Because of this, it functions well as a diuretic (but without the side effects of diuretic drugs), keeping excess sodium out of cells.
Taurine is also critical for our immune defenses. It protects our immune cells from being destroyed as they fight off germs. Without enough of it, these immune cells will not function normally and a weak immune system results.
Lucky for us, eating the right foods can avoid a deficiency. Shellfish is an excellent source of taurine. If you're not a big fan of shellfish, that's okay. Your body can make taurine from two amino acids (cysteine and methionine) that are found in meat and egg yolks.
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