What are Amino Acid Supplements?

Essential Amino Acids Recommended by Dr. Oz
Credit: Amazon.com

There are 20 amino acids found within protein that play crucial roles as building blocks. As humans, we can naturally produce ten of the 20 amino acids but the others must be obtained via food or supplements.[1] If we are not getting any of those missing 10, then our bodies degrades the proteins within our muscles to make the ones that are needed.

Unlike fat, our bodies do not store amino acids. We must get those missing ten every day through diet or supplements.[2]

Normally this would not be a problem with a well rounded diet, however, most people do not eat the recommended daily servings of vegetables, and others such as vegans do not each meat which is the primary source for branched chain amino acids foods.

The following four amino acids were recommended by Dr. Oz as supplements in 2013. I have been taking them for 6 months now at minimal cost. They are Glycine, Ornithine, Arginine and Lysine. If you have trouble remembering that, think of the acronym GOAL, which takes the first letter of each one.

So what are the benefits of these four amino acid supplements?

Best Supplements - Essential Amino Acids

Now Foods Glycine 1000mg, Capsules, 100-Count
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(price as of Jan 25, 2016)

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What are Branched Chain Amino Acids?

Glycine is naturally produced in the body and is the also the building block of creatine which is used to construct DNA and RNA.[1]  Glycine supports glycogen storage, thereby making more glucose available for energy production.  Glycine is involved in the transmission of chemical signals in the brain. Some researchers think glycine may be the key to preventing cancer because it has been shown to reduce blood flow to tumorous regions.[1]  Because of this, some doctors recommend taking Glycine supplements.


Arginine plays an important role in several important pathways, including the synthesis of proteins, the production of creatine, and the synthesis of nitric oxide. Creatine is the primary vehicle that supplies energy to all of the cells in the body, especially muscle.[1]

Arginine also appear to stimulate the release of growth hormone and plays a role in normal healing. Studies have shown that increasing intake of foods high in arginine may help ease symptoms from soreness or pain, increase the amount of exercise one can tolerance, and improve blood circulation.

For that reason, it has been shown to benefit men suffering from erectile dysfunction and is often prescribed as a supplement by doctors.[2]

Benefits of L-Arginine

Best Supplements - Essential Amino Acids

NOW Foods L-Arginine 500mg, 250 Capsules
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(price as of Jan 25, 2016)


Ornithine is made in the body but has been used by athletes to enhance performance. It is considered a non-essential amino acid because it is produced naturally in the body from arginine.[1]

Ornithine is produced to remove waste from the body so if you are lacking in Ornithinge, your body could build up toxins which will eventually make you sick.[1]


Lysine is an essential amino acid because the body cannot manufacturer it on its own. Nor is it produced through other amino acids. Lysine must be obtained through diet or through supplements. Lysine is considered one of the building blocks of protein and is considered crucial for growth and keeping high levels of energy.

Evidence shows that it is also beneficial in lowering bad cholesterol levels in the body as well as the formation and healing of connective tissues in the body.[1]

Someone with a normal diet will get enough lysine, however, high energy athletes or vegans should take lysine supplements.[1] Without a normal diet, lysine levels can drop leaving you feeling tired, dizzy, anemic or with a loss of appetite.

Furthermore, Lysine has shown antiviral properties and is beneficial in preventing outbreaks of cold sores and some cases of genital herpes. It has also been shown to help with people suffering from osteoporosis because it absorbs calcium for use later.[2]

Best Supplements - Essential Amino Acids

Twinlab L-Ornithine 500mg, 100 Capsules
Amazon Price: $23.79 $12.41 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 25, 2016)

Should I take Amino Acid Supplements?

Benefits of Amino Acid Supplements

So what is the verdict? As with everything in life, the evidence is mixed.

However, there is enough evidence to show that taking essential amino acid supplements can benefit your long-term health in my opinion.

The following is useful in remembering four of the most important ones for your body:

  • GGlycine aids in building muscle and allows you to store more energy while promoting deeper sleep
  • OOrnithine  produces and supplies energy for the muscles in your body
  • AArginine  aids in building up energy because it regulates your blood pressure so your heart does not have to work so hard. It may also aid in the metabolism of fat
  • LLysine converts fatty foods into energy for use by the body

I do not take a multi-vitamin daily. I prefer to get my nutrients from kale and spinach smoothies.

However, I do take all four of these supplements daily. Each one of these tablets or capsules are very large so if you are someone that has trouble swallowing pills, you may want to do what I do and simply obliterate them in the blender when making a smoothie. It reduces them to nothing.

For the two that come in caplets, I simply pull them apart and pour the powder into the blender. The other option would be to get them in powder form, then mix it with water or a daily smoothie.

If you use some form of whey protein powder, check the ingredients on the label because it almost assuredly contains various amounts of certain amino acids and one or more of these may already be included, albeit at a lower mg dose.

However, for a 100 caplets at between $10 and $15 a bottle, I consider the potential benefits to outweigh the cost of a roughly three month supply and I will continue to take these four supplements for the foreseeable future.

Best Supplements - Essential Amino Acids

Source Naturals L-Lysine, Free Form, 1000mg, 100 Tablets (Pack of 3)
Amazon Price: $53.35 $18.15 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 25, 2016)

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