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What are Amino Acids and Why are They Important for Your Children

By staff

Most people have heard the term ‘amino acid’ before, but don’t really know what these are
and the role they play in the normal growth and development of our children.
So far scientists have discovered over fifty amino acids that our bodies require to function.
Twenty of these amino acids are required to make proteins, which build and repair tissues,
make hormones and enzymes as well as other body chemicals. Amino acids are categorised
as either:
➢ Essential - Our bodies can’t produce these and they must be obtained through diet
➢ Conditionally essential – Essential only under specific circumstances such as an
illness or injury
➢ Nonessential – Can be made by the body and so not essential to the human diet
The nine essential amino acids that must be obtained from the diet are;
● Lysine
● Tryptophan
● Methionine
● Phenylalanine
● Threonine
● Histidine
● Valine
● Leucine
● Isoleucine
Because amino acids are fundamental for the biological processes that happen within our
bodies, it is particularly important to ensure children are receiving enough protein to ensure
normal growth and development.
Acute and chronic infections can increase children’s protein and amino acid requirements.
Daily ingestion of high-quality protein-rich foods will ensure your child is receiving adequate
amounts of amino acids. The foods highest in the 9 essential amino acids include; red and
white meats, fish, eggs, cheese, nuts, tofu, soy products, seaweed, spinach and watercress.
If your child isn’t consuming enough of these foods on a regular basis or they are on a
vegetarian diet, a complementary mix of plant proteins will provide adequate amounts of
amino acids or alternatively, you may look at supplements if they are deficient.
As always when considering any supplemental or dietary changes for you or your family it is
always best to consult with your doctor or healthcare professional for further information and
advice.

Resources
https://www.nestlenutrition-
institute.org/region/southasia/news/article/2016/10/03/importance-of-proteins-and-amino-
acids-in-child-growth

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26598853
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/306983.php
https://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-000083000000000000000.html