What are they?
Amino acids are the end result of the breakdown of protein. Protein is made up of a chains of amino acids strung together, and when eaten they get digested and absorbed into the system as single units called amino acids. Once in the body, these amino acids are used predominantly for building body tissue such as muscle development, though there are other uses for amino acids such as for energy and enzymes. Under certain condition there is a greater requirement for protein and amino acids, such as during period of rapid growth such as teenagers and when there is tissue repair such as after an injury or illness.
Where are they found?
Amino acids or proteins are found in the following foods; lean meats, chicken, fish, legumes (like baked beans) and eggs, and in lesser amounts in dairy foods and cereal products. The animal based protein foods contain a better profile of amino acids, that is, they contain all the essential amino acids for growth and development. If eating vegetarian style, you need to mix and match the non-meat protein foods to get the best profile of these amino acids. For example eating pasta with cheese, or baked beans with toast.
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