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All living things use amino acids, which are molecules used to make protein. Humans need 20 different amino acids to function. That’s because amino acids do so many things for our bodies, including:
- Helping to break down and digest food
- Growing and repairing muscle and body tissue
- Producing hormones and neurotransmitters
- Providing energy
- Supporting our immune system
- Supporting normal digestion
- Supporting healthy skin, hair, and nails
While we need 20 amino acids, our body only produces 11 of them. The other nine, which are known as essential amino acids, must be derived from other sources, either through diet, supplementation, or both.
Essential and Non-Essential Amino Acids
The 11 amino acids our bodies can produce are known as non-essential amino acids. Those 11 amino acids are:
- Aspartic acid
- Glutamic acid
Conversely, the nine amino acids our bodies do not produce by themselves are known as the “essential” amino acids. These nine essential amino acids (and some food sources that provide them) are:
A healthy and balanced diet can provide most people the essential amino acids we require. For those who may not get enough amino acids via diet, including vegetarians or vegans, or for those who are looking to further support other health and wellness goals, like better sleep, relaxation, athletic performance, and immune system function, amino acid supplements may be an option.
When to Take Amino Acids
You can and should get many or most of your amino acids throughout the day and by eating a healthy diet. For those taking amino acid supplements to support a particular health goal, such as athletes looking to support performance and muscle growth, you might be wondering if there is a best time to take amino acid supplements.
Research indicates that branched-chain amino acid supplements (BCAAs) may support less muscle soreness and damage following strenuous workouts; help burn more fat during workouts; limit workout fatigue, and reduce delayed onset muscle soreness after a workout.
For these amino acid supplements, which can be taken in powder or capsule form, the ideal time to take them may be up to about 15-30 minutes before beginning a workout. Some amino acid supplements, like leucine, may also be incorporated throughout a work (by mixing the supplement powder with water) to help support optimal muscle gain.
If you are taking amino acid supplements to primarily support fat loss through exercise, you can take the supplement about 30-45 minutes before a meal.
Some high quality amino acid supplements to consider include the three below from Pure Encapsulations, Premier Research Labs, and Metabolic Maintenance.
Amino Acid Supplements
NAC 600 Mg – Pure Encapsulations
NAC 600 Mg from Pure Encapsulations is a plant-based dietary supplement of free-form N-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC), which is derived from the amino acid l-cysteine. NAC also works as a precursor to glutathione, an antioxidant. One of the primary roles of NAC is to support healthy lung tissue and respiratory system.
Amino hGH Growth Hormone Support – Premier Research Labs
Amino acids are important for everyone; they’re especially important for athletes, or anyone who exercises often. If that’s you, a supplement like Amino hGH Growth Hormone Support from Premier Research Labs can make sure you get the amino acids you need. Amino hGH Growth Hormone Support is a natural amino acid supplement that supports muscular strength and lean muscle tone when combined with exercise.
Dynamic BCAA Drink – NutriDyn
Dynamic BCAA Drink Strawberry Kiwi from Nutri-Dyn is a powdered dietary supplement with branched-chain amino acids for pre- and post-workouts. This formula may provide support for healthy weight management and may help support muscle recovery and development. This formula contains the amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
When do you take amino acid supplements?