ANSWERS: 1
  • Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and play an important role in the life processes of human beings. Each amino acid consists of an alpha carbon atom attached to a hydrogen atom, an amino atom group, a carboxyl atom group and an "R" group. It is the configuration of this "R" group of atoms that determines the specific properties of an amino acid.

    Standard Amino Acids

    The 20 amino acids are alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, proline, serine, threonine, tryptophan, tyrosine and valine. These are referred to as the "standard amino acids" because they are necessary for life in human beings.

    Essential Amino Acids

    Of the 20 standard amino acids, eight of them are dubbed "essential" to humans because they cannot be synthesized in the body and must be obtained from food. The essential amino acids are isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. They can be obtained by eating foods high in protein and fiber.

    Non-Essential Amino Acids

    The non-essential amino acids--alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine, tyrosine, arginine and histidine can be found in nature, but are also processed naturally in the body through the release of the enzyme tranzaminase.

    Sub-Groups

    The 20 amino acids are also further broken into the sub groups aliphatic, aromatic, acidic, basic, hydroxylic, sulfur-containing and amidic, based on their chemical properties.

    Abbreviated Forms

    All amino acids have two other abbreviated forms--a three letter and single letter version. For example, glutamine is also known as gln, or Q.

    Source:

    University of London: The 20 Amino Acids

    Chem4kids.com: 20 Amino Acids

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