Amino Acids are the building blocks of proteins. Protein molecules often make up more than half of all cells and tissues. The body requires amino acids in order to function properly.
Twenty-two amino acids exist in nature. Most sources still reference 20 amino acids; however, two more, rare and more recently discovered, amino acids are selenocysteine and pyrrolysine—known as the 21st and 22nd amino acids. These two amino acids are incorporated into genetic codes and are called “translation” amino acids.
Of these 22 amino acids, 20 are encoded by the universal genetic code. Scientists use the term “universal” because all organisms on earth use the same “language”, this means the same amino acids and genetic codes are employed by microorganisms, plants, and animals. Our very DNA is composed of various combinations of the 20 standard amino acids!
These 20 amino acids are required by the body to function properly, and Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) just happens to contains all 20 of them! This is most unique among all food plants.
There are nine essential amino acids that must be received intact and directly from food sources. The nine essential amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.
There are also 11 non-essential amino acids the body is able to biosynthesize from foods. The 11 non-essential amino acids are arginine, asparagine, alanine, glutamine, cysteine, glycine, proline, serine, tyrosine, aspartic acid, and glutamic acid.
Another category that may include several non-essential amino acids is conditional amino acids. An amino acid may be considered a conditional amino acid only under specific circumstances. For instance, typically, arginine is considered to be a non-essential amino acid; however, when fighting certain diseases, or experiencing rapid growth (in the young), the body cannot meet the demands for this amino acid and it must be obtained from outside sources—food or supplements. Other non-essential amino acids that may fall into this category under specific circumstances are cysteine, glutamine, glycine, proline, tyrosine, and serine.
Each amino acid offers a variety of health benefits, but together they provide vital fuel and energy, build and maintain neuropeptides (chemical messengers of the nervous system), and help biomodulate emotion and mood swings. AFA’s amino acid profile is similar to the ideal profile recommended by the Food & Nutrition Council.