Eight Essential Amino Acids that Help Build Muscle

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, but there is so much more to know about them. Depending on who you talk to, there are 20-22 amino acids and eight of them are considered essential. Each has its own individual job as well as side effects if there is an overdose on just one amino acid.

Body builders tend to be the group that focuses the most on getting the right amount of each one, but everyone should be concerned with getting the right level of nutrition to be their most healthy self.


Histidine plays a major roll in the tissues, nerves, and blood. It is specifically used to help treat arthritis and nerve deafness. Foods it is commonly found in are dairy, meat, poultry, fish, rice, wheat, and rye. While it is not known what effect a deficiency of this will have on a person, overdosing can cause high stress and aggravation of mental disorders like anxiety and schizophrenia.

The Role it Plays:

  • Any kind of tissue repair requires histidine
  • Helps protect nerves by forming oligodendrocytes that wrap around them with myelin, which is like a protective sheath
  • Manufactures red and white blood cells
  • Protects against radiation
  • Removes heavy metals from the body
  • Helps digestion by producing gastric juices
  • A key ingredients in Histamine, a non-essential amino acid that is necessary when responding to any kind of allergic reaction


Lysine is essential for general growth and development. Not getting enough of it leads to enzyme disorders, hair loss, lack of energy, weight loss, no appetite, and a loss of concentration. Having too much of it can lead to higher LDL cholesterol, diarrhea, and gallstones.

The Role it Plays:

  • Helps with calcium absorption which helps with bone and muscle growth
  • Aids in metabolizing fat for energy
  • Maintains a positive nitrogen balance which creates an anabolic environment in the body
  • Protects body mass during extreme stress and fatigue moments
  • Used in producing antibodies, hormones, enzymes, and collagen
  • Helps repair damaged tissue as well as build new muscle protein
  • Maintains healthy blood vessels for good cardiovascular health


While there was a lot of controversy over this amino acid and the use of it in products, studies show that healthy people have nothing to fear. Pregnant women and diabetics, even in good health, should be wary of this amino acid in large amounts as it can result in higher blood pressure, nausea, nerve damage, headaches, and heart trouble.

Eating it in the common foods it is found in, i.e. dairy, almonds, avocados, nuts, and seeds is fine, but taking any kind of amino acid chain supplement is where things get risky. If the body does not have enough, it starts to feel weak and tired and even cause liver damage and stunted growth.

The Role it Plays:

  • Elevates mood by stimulating the nerve system
  • Increases epinephrine, nor-epinephrine, and dopamine in the anterior pituitary
  • These three help the nerve system operate at its optimum level
  • Helps absorb UV rays from the sun, increasing Vitamin D
  • Manufactures glutamine, the amino that makes up the largest portion of the amino acid pool


This is one of the great aminos for body builders. It is naturally found in meat, fish, beans, eggs, garlic, lentils, onions, yogurt, and seeds. While there are no known overdosing threats, it has been shown to make a person more susceptible to arteriosclerosis when there aren’t enough B-vitamins to accompany it. A deficiency of this amino is likely to cause dementia, fatty liver, slow growth, weakness, skin lesions, and edema.

The Role it Plays:

  • Assists in breaking down fat which yields higher testosterone rates
  • Eliminates fat from the bloodstream
  • Plays a key role in digestion, removing heavy metals from the stomach and liver
  • Supplies sulfur to the body
  • Anti-oxidant, inactivates free radicals
  • Helps with memory recall
  • Treats depression, arthritis, and liver disease
  • One of three aminos used in naturally creating creatine monohydrate in the body which is essential in energy production and muscle growth


The strongest of the amino acids that are part of the Branch Chain Amino Acids group, or BCAAs, this is one of the strongest natural anabolic agents. It is found in nearly every protein source including brown rice, beans, nuts, and whole wheat. Being deficient and overdosing have unknown side effects. That is mostly because it is taken in large amounts naturally.

The Role it Plays:

  • Regulates blood-sugar levels
  • Helps in growth and repair of tissues in skin, bones, and skeletal muscle
  • Heals wounds
  • Regulates energy
  • Assists in prevention of muscle tissue breakdown
  • A strong part of Human Growth Hormone


Isoleucine is very similar to leucine. It is also important in the BCAA stack and is also found in protein sources. It is not the exact same though. It is naturally found in chicken, cashews, fish, almonds, eggs, lentils, liver, and meat. The deficiency of this amino is unknown, like leucine. However, for those who have kidney or liver disease, overdosing can lead to serious problems. If you do not have issues in these areas, the only real effect is that you will have increased urination.

The Role it Plays:

  • Promotes muscle recovery
  • Regulates blood-sugar levels
  • Stimulates HGH release
  • Promotes wound healing by helping to form hemoglobin and blood-clots, which also helps defend against infection


The last amino acid in the BCAA is valine. It is found in dairy, meat, grain, mushrooms, soy, and peanuts. If levels are too low, it leads to MSUD. If levels are too high, the most common side effect is a crawling sensation in the skin. It can also cause hallucinations and be hazardous to those with kidney and liver disease.

The Role it Plays:

  • Helps repair and grow muscle tissue
  • Maintains the body’s nitrogen balance
  • Preserves the use of glucose


Threonine is an essential amino acid that is never manufactured in the human body. It is found in animal sources like dairy, eggs, and meat, leaving vegans and some vegetarians at risk. When the body is deficient, it has less immunity against disease and is more irritable. There are no known effects for overdosing and it is used medicinally for treating mental health.

The Role it Plays:

  • Plays a key role in protein absorption
  • Forms collagen and elastin, the two vital binding substances
  • Maintains muscle and good health
  • Helps in liver function
  • Essential in maintaining a proper protein balance
  • Maintains the immune system by helping to produce antibodies and promote growth and activity of the thymus
  • When combined with aspartic acid and methionine it helps in lipotropic functions

Amino acids are really amazing components that our body needs to do so many different things. It is easy to see why they are referred to as “essential.” Like vitamins and minerals, they are needed at vital, basic foundations of health and wellness. The part that is even more wondrous is this article only skims the surface on amino acids and the role they play in the body. There is a lot more they can do.


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4 thoughts on “Eight Essential Amino Acids that Help Build Muscle

    1. I apologize Carol, we cannot provide medical advise because we are not certified medical professional. Please consult your doctor.

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