At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.
Liquid amino acids are dietary supplements that people take to help their bodies process energy, build muscles, and recover from physical stress more efficiently. There are 20 known amino acids, and all are required for optimal human health. People typically produce most naturally, but others need to be absorbed from food sources, primarily meats and plant proteins. Supplements aren’t usually required unless people have documented absorption problems, but they are popular in many places as a means of protecting against deficiencies in diet. Liquid supplements can be added to foods and beverages and are usually quick to metabolize. They are often particularly favored amongst athletes and others who are looking to optimize muscle growth and density in a short period of time, though problems can arise when supplements become the sole source of these important nutrients.
Amino Acid Basics
Amino acids are important molecules that help make up proteins, coenzymes, and other vital molecules in the body. There are 20 of these “building blocks” that are considered essential for human health and development, and they are critical to things like organ functioning, brain tissue growth, and muscle maintenance. Twelve are secreted naturally by all healthy humans, but the remaining 8 need to be ingested from foods. Meats, beans, eggs, and diary products are generally considered good sources.
Most people are able to get the needed amount of essential amino acids in the foods they eat. Heavily processed foods may have a lower level of vitamins and minerals, though, and many pre-packaged or “fast” foods have chemicals, hormones, and antibiotics that can make it harder for the body to absorb the necessary nutrients.
Importance of Supplementation
People who don’t get all of the amino acids that they need, or who don’t get enough, often feel lethargic and may also suffer from general poor health. They may have a hard time bouncing back from illness and injury, too. Taking a supplement can be a good way to ensure that enough is consumed and at the right intervals.
Amino acid supplements can provide a number of positive effects. They can help lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, for instance, and they may help boost energy levels and allow the brain to focus and pay attention for longer periods of time. In addition, they help build protein inside the body, and can have a positive effect on metabolism. Of course, these effects are not unique to the supplements as much as they are to the acids themselves. Taking supplements can enhance the effects, though, which in turn can make the benefits more pronounced and more quickly realized.
Benefits of Liquid Forms
There are usually a couple of different options when it comes to supplementation; liquids, capsules, and powders are all available in many places. There tend to be two primary benefits of liquid options. First, they’re typically really easy to use; people can sprinkle them over foods like a seasoning, and can mix them in with drinks. The body can usually absorb them very quickly, too, and they can get to work in the bloodstream faster than more solid options.
Popularity Amongst Athletes
Liquid supplements are often very popular amongst athletes and others who are interested in quickly building muscle mass. Eating a lot of protein-rich foods is of course one option, but dietary supplements are often seen as a way of getting the nutrients without the calories, and also sometimes allow people to maintain very stringent diets while still ensuring that they’re getting everything that they need for optimal muscle growth.
When an athlete uses liquid amino acids when exercising, it can help to protect the lean muscle tissue from being exhausted or depleted. Athletes frequently want to retain as much lean muscle mass as possible while decreasing excess fat. Amino acids are responsible for helping to repair tears of the muscle tissues and organs in the body. The proper absorption and specific amounts of amino acids taken in liquid form can also help prevent bone loss, osteoporosis, and kidney disease.
Liquid amino acids aren’t usually considered a drug, and they’re available at most grocery stores and health food outlets. They are often packaged to look like a condiment, and can be used interchangeably with things like soy sauce or salad dressing. Most experts recommend taking the liquid amino acid before meals.
In general, the best results are often achieved by using these and other supplements as just one part of an otherwise healthy lifestyle. People can run into trouble if they rely on outside products to provide the bulk of nutrients that are essential for proper functioning and health. Some scholars have also raised concerns that long-term use of amino acid supplements can lead to digestive problems and stomach upset.