There are around 20 major amino acids that are important to the body as well as hundreds of minor amino acids. These amino acids keep the body healthy and deficiency in just a single amino acid can lead to problems. The major amino acids, as well as some of the minor ones, can be categorized in six different ways. Probably the best method of the six different categorizations is classifying amino acids by function that they serve to the body, and under this categorization they can be placed into seven different groups with some amino acids fitting into multiple groups.
1. Neurotransmitter amino acids – Amino acids of this group are needed to help with signaling throughout the nervous system and between brain cells. Without these amino acids, serious mental health problems and with neurotransmitters may result. The specific amino acids that are a part of this group are: asparagines, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, gamma amino butyric acid, glutamine, phenylalanine, glycine, taurine, tyrosine, tryptophan. Deficiently with members of this group of amino acids are linked to stroke, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, mental and emotional problems, depression, lack of concentration, insomnia, mental exhaustion, and memory problems.
2. Branched chain amino acids – This group of amino acids can be important for people who are athletes or involved in frequent strenuous activity. They are helpful in reducing fatigue in endurance sports, recovering from muscle fatigue, and have been known to increase performance in studies concerning athletes that regularly take these kinds of amino acids. The amino acids that make up this group include: isoleucine, glutamine, valine, and leucine. Deficiency of this group can lead to injury during exercising or muscles wasting as a result of exercise.
3. Sulfur-containing amino acids – Amino acids of this group are associated with the removal of toxins and other contaminants from the body. They can help with the removal of alcohol and also the breakdown of fats in the arteries. The different amino acids of this group include cystine or cysteine, taurine, and methionine. A deficiency in amino acids of this group can be associated with chemical sensitivity and food allergies.
4. Glycogenic amino acids – This group of amino acids can be converted to glucose and help balance the level of surgar in the body. The amino acids making up this group include: threonine, serine, glutamine, glycine, and alanine. Deficiency of any amino acids in this group can cause lead to poor concentration, fatigue, abnormal levels of zinc and chromium, hypoglycemia, diabetes mellitus, candidiasis, and problems metabolizing surgar.
5. Urea cycle amino acids – As the name suggests, this group of amino acids are necessary in the regulation of the urea cycle. Ammonia is inevitably produced by many functions in the body but to make it safer for the body, the ammonia is converted to urea. Amino acids of this group include: arginine, ornithine, citrullin, and aspartic acid. Problems with deficiency of this group can lead to kidney and liver disease.
6. Connective tissue amino acids – Amino acids of this group are essential in the formation of collagen which is the main component in the connective tissue of the body. Amino acids of this group include: proline, hydroxylysine, and hydroxyproline. Abnormalities with this group are indicators of trauma, recent surgery, muscle wasting, strenuous exercise.
7. Amino acids that give clues about deficiencies – Some amino acids can act as indicators for deficiencies in other non-amino acids or problems in the body such as deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, viral infections, and problems with the immune system. Amino acids of this group include: Phosphoserine, taurine, histidine, arginine, lysine, threonine.