What Are Essential Amino Acids

From a nutritional standpoint, only ten of the twenty amino acids found in protein are essential to the diet. These amino acids present us with the same situation as do the other essential nutrients. We simply cannot make them or at least not in the amounts necessary to promote growth, development, and health throughout the lifespan. As a result, these amino acids must be provided by our diet. As listed in Table 6.1, arginine and histidine are noted as essential during periods of growth and maybe at an advanced age but not at other times.

The easiest way to remember the essential amino acids is by the acronyms TV-TILL-PM-AH. These are the first letters of the essential amino acids tryptophan, valine, threonine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, phenyl-alanine, methionine, and the two semi-essential amino acids arginine and histidine. Other acronyms include PVT TIM HALL or VP MATT HILL where PVT is the abbreviation for the military rank of private.

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