Know the Functions and Food Sources of Essential Amino Acids

Know the Functions and Food Sources of Essential Amino Acids

Essential amino acids cannot be produced by the body so they need to be taken from food. There are several types of essential amino acids with their respective functions. Get to know what foods are sources of these essential amino acids so you can get enough of them.


The body needs at least 20 types of amino acids which are the building blocks of protein. Nine of them are classified as essential amino acids and the rest are non-essential amino acids.

Essential amino acids cannot be produced by the body, so they must be obtained from food. Food sources of essential amino acids need to be consumed regularly in sufficient quantities, so that the body's needs for these nutrients can be met.

Foods Containing Essential Amino Acids

Sources of essential amino acids can be in the form of foods containing animal protein or foods containing vegetable protein. Here are various types of essential amino acids and foods that can be consumed to obtain them:

1. Isoleucine

Isoleucine is a BCAA (branched-chain amino acid) that builds the most muscle. This amino acid also has an important role in regulating energy levels in the body, increasing endurance, and producing hemoglobin.

You can get isoleucine from beef. In addition, eggs, milk, and dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt, can also be sources of isoleucine for your daily consumption.

2. Lysine

Lysine plays an important role in the production of various tissue-building proteins, hormones, enzymes, and antibodies. Consuming these essential amino acids in sufficient quantities can increase endurance, and keep hormones and enzymes in the body working properly.

Fish and eggs are foods that contain quite a lot of lysine. In addition, you can also get lysine from beef, chicken, seafood, milk, and dairy products.

3. Leucine

This essential amino acid has many roles in the body, ranging from helping the wound healing process, producing growth hormone, increasing muscle strength, and regulating blood sugar levels.

Salmon is included in foods that are high in leucine content. Other sources of leucine that you can consume are chickpeas, eggs, soybeans, and nuts.

4. Valin

Similar to leucine, valine also has an important role in stimulating growth hormone and repairing muscle damage. In addition, valine also plays a role in supplying energy for the body.

One of the foods with high levels of valine is fresh egg whites. In addition, valine can also be obtained from milk and dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt, although the amount is not as much as in eggs.

5. Threonine

This type of essential amino acid has an important function in maintaining a healthy heart and liver, as well as improving the function of the immune system and central nervous system.

Foods rich in threonine are raw spinach and watercress. Other options include tuna, tilapia, egg white, turkey, and soy.

6. Histidine

Histidine is a type of essential amino acid that is important for children. This is because histidine has a role in the development and maintenance of various body tissues, including nervous tissue.

Cod, chicken, turkey, and kidney beans are foods that are high in histidine.

7. Methionine

This essential amino acid plays a role in metabolism and detoxification in the body. Not only that, methionine can also help the body to absorb the minerals zinc and selenium from food.

You can get a lot of methionine from egg whites. In addition, fish and meat also contain quite a lot of methionine.

8. Phenylalanine

Phenylalanine plays an important role in the formation of other amino acids that are also needed by the body. The body will also convert this essential amino acid into tyrosine and dopamine which are important for brain function.

The essential amino phenylalanine type is most commonly found in plant-based protein sources, such as seeds and nuts. In addition, animal products such as beef, seafood, and eggs are also known to be high in phenylalanine.

9. Tryptophan

In the body, tryptophan is used to make serotonin, a hormone that regulates appetite, sleep, mood, and pain.

Chicken and turkey are foods that contain quite a lot of tryptophan. fish, tofu, chocolate, soy, nuts, and seeds.

In addition to consuming food sources of essential amino acids, you also need to eat a variety of foods with balanced nutrition to meet the intake of other nutrients. If necessary, consult a nutritionist to get a daily menu recommendation that is healthy and according to your needs.