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Foods Containing the Nine Essential Amino Acids That Must Be in Your Diet

Ensuring an adequate amount of the nine essential amino acids by consuming a protein-rich diet and incorporating essential amino acids supplements can help promote muscle growth, prevent muscle breakdown, improve endurance and strength, and support post-workout recovery.

Steven Hill
Foods Containing the Nine Essential Amino Acids That Must Be in Your Diet
Table Of Contents

Your body needs twenty different amino acids to ensure good health and smooth functioning. You need to obtain nine of them through food. Foods like quinoa, dairy, eggs, soy, meat, and tofu are excellent dietary sources containing the nine essential amino acids. 

Amino acids are important compounds that combine for making proteins. Your digestive system breaks the protein that you eat into amino acids and later combines them in various forms to perform bodily functions. 

Your body can easily manufacture the remaining eleven amino acids; therefore, you do not need to rely on your diet for them. As amino acids play a crucial role in building muscles, transporting nutrients throughout the body, performing chemical reactions, and preventing illness, you need to ensure that they are present in your body in an adequate amount. 

Amino acid deficiency may have severe repercussions for your body, such as compromised immunity, digestive issues, infertility, depression, reduced focus, slower growth among children, and other related health issues. 

Since these essential amino acids are responsible for different body functions, their deficiency symptoms may vary accordingly. 

This article presents a detailed analysis of the nine essential amino acids, foods high in essential amino acids, the role of essential amino acids in exercise, and how supplements containing essential amino acids can help build massive muscles.

      Nine Essential Amino Acids

      There are different types of essential amino acids, such as:

      1. Phenylalanine

      Phenylalanine aids the body's utilization of other amino acids, proteins, and enzymes. Phenylalanine is converted to tyrosine in the body, which is required for certain brain activities.

      Though uncommon, phenylalanine deficit in babies can result in poor weight gain. Adults may get eczema, weariness, and cognitive issues as a result of it. Aspartame, an artificial sweetener commonly used in soda, contains phenylalanine. However, large dosages of aspartame can raise phenylalanine levels in the brain. As a result, you may experience anxiety, jitteriness, and disrupted sleep.

      Phenylketonuria (PKU) is a rare hereditary condition that impedes the body's ability to metabolize phenylalanine. As a result, patients of PKU should stay away from meals that are abundant in this amino acid.

      2. Threonine

      Threonine is a crucial component of tooth enamel, elastin, and collagen; therefore, it is highly important for maintaining healthy skin and teeth. It facilitates fat metabolism and can help those suffering from indigestion, anxiety, or moderate depression.

      According to a study, fish suffering from threonine deficiency had decreased illness resistance.

      3. Tryptophan

      Tryptophan is known as the precursor of melatonin and serotonin. Serotonin plays a crucial role in regulating sleep, appetite, pain, and emotion. Melatonin is also involved in sleep regulation. Both Melatonin and Serotonin are important for growth among infants.

      Tryptophan is a sedative that is used in several sleeping pills. According to research, supplementing with tryptophan can promote mental energy and enhance emotional processing among healthy women.

      Tryptophan deficiency can result in Pellagra, which can induce dementia, cause skin rashes, and trigger digestive problems.

      4. Methionine

      Methionine, along with cysteine, ensures the health and flexibility of skin and hair. Methionine also helps maintain healthy nails and improves selenium and zinc absorption. It plays a crucial role in the elimination of heavy metals like lead and mercury.

      5. Lysine

      Lysine is necessary for muscle growth, bone strength maintenance, injury or operation healing, hormone, antibody, and enzyme regulation. It may also contain antiviral properties.

      Although there isn't a lot of research on lysine insufficiency, a study on rats suggests that its deficiency can cause stress-induced anxiety.

      6. Histidine

      Histidine plays an important role in ensuring the formation and growth of blood cells and tissue repair. It also helps maintain the myelin sheath, a protective covering that surrounds nerve cells.

      Histidine is converted to histamine in the body, which is necessary for promoting immunity, enhancing reproductive health, and facilitating digestion. A research study on women suffering from obesity and metabolic syndrome suggests that histidine supplements may help reduce BMI and insulin resistance.

      The deficiency of histidine may cause anemia. It may also cause low blood levels among patients with arthritis or kidney illness.

      7. Valine

      The amino acid valine promotes mental clarity, physical coordination, and emotional balance. Supplementing with valine can help with muscular growth, tissue healing, and energy.

      Valine deficiency may result in Insomnia and compromised mental functions.

      8. Leucine

      Leucine helps ensure muscle, bone growth, and repair while also effectively managing blood sugar levels. It helps heal wounds and promotes growth hormones. Leucine deficiency may result in skin rashes, loss of hair, and exhaustion.

      9. Isoleucine

      Muscle tissue contains a lot of isoleucine. Isoleucine is important for muscle metabolism, promoting immunological function, forming hemoglobin, and managing energy levels.

      The Role of Essential Amino Acids in Exercise

      Low quantities of protein and essential amino acids can reduce muscle strength and compromise exercise performance.

      A 2014 study revealed that older adults who don't obtain enough essential amino acids experienced reduced muscle mass.

      Another study suggests that amino acid supplements help aid athletes' recovery after exercise.

      Foods High in Essential Amino Acids

      Previously, doctors believed that people needed to consume meals that included all nine essential amino acids in a single meal. As a result, an individual was required to eat meat, dairy, eggs, dairy, or another meal providing all nine essential amino acids, or combine two or more plant foods containing all nine, such as beans and rice.

      Today, however, that advice is no longer valid. People who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet can acquire their required amino acids from various plant foods throughout the day, rather than consuming them all at once.

      Although a deficiency in critical amino acids is conceivable, most people may get enough of them by eating a protein-rich diet.

      The following are the most prevalent foods that contain necessary amino acids:

      • Meat, eggs, soy, black beans, quinoa, and pumpkin seeds all contain lysine.
      • Histidine is abundant in meat, fish, poultry, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
      • The amino acid threonine is present in an adequate amount in cottage cheese and wheat germ.
      • Eggs, cereals, nuts, and seeds all contain methionine.
      • Soy, cheese, peanuts, mushrooms, whole grains, and veggies all contain valine.
      • Isoleucine can be found in various foods, including meat, fish, chicken, eggs, cheese, lentils, nuts, and seeds.
      • Leucine can be found in dairy, soy, beans, and legumes.
      • Dairy, meat, chicken, soy, fish, beans, and nuts all contain phenylalanine.
      • Most high-protein meals contain tryptophan, such as wheat germ, cottage cheese, chicken, and turkey.

      The foods mentioned above are just a few examples of essential amino acids containing foods. At least some of the required amino acids can be found in all protein-rich diets, whether they are plant-based or animal-based.

      While you may consume essential amino acids through diet, supplements containing essential amino acids provide additional benefits, especially promoting healthy muscle building. The next section discusses how essential amino acids supplements can help.

      How Can Essential Amino Acids Supplements Help Promote Muscle Building?

      Essential amino acids or EAA supplement said in the healing and maintaining muscles that have already been injured and help avoid a muscular breakdown during intensive exercise.

      Essential amino acids can be very beneficial to people who work out or do strength-building exercises daily. EAA amino facilitates the development of lean muscle mass, the preservation of muscular tissue, the growth of strength during exercises, and the improvement of workout performance.

      Reliable essential amino acid supplements, such as DMoose Essential Amino Acids (EAAs) + Hydration, encourage muscle growth and prevent muscle breakdown while promoting hydration and recovery.

      It helps enhance muscle endurance and strength. It contains 8 g of vegan-friendly, high-quality EAAs, precise doses of key electrolytes, and 6 g fermented Instantized Branched-chain Amino Acids (BCAAs).

      Amino acid supplements aid in maintaining an anabolic condition, essential for building muscle and improving performance. The essential amino acid supplements assist vital biological processes that result in the formation of new muscle tissue. EAAs can help you recover faster after an exercise while also enhancing your workout gains.

      When you exercise to gain muscle mass, you burn important amino acids for energy. If you don't consume essential amino acids before, during, or after an exercise, your body will break down muscle tissue to produce the critical amino acids it requires. You can avoid essential amino acid depletion by taking an EAA supplement before, during, and after a workout.


      Essential amino acids must be consumed to maintain good health. The best method to guarantee appropriate levels of vital amino acids is to eat a range of protein-rich foods every day.

      Besides, incorporating essential amino acids supplements can provide additional benefits, such as promoting muscle growth, preventing muscle breakdown, improving endurance and strength, and supporting post-workout recovery.

      Article Sources

      • Dong, Yu-Wen, et al. “Dietary Threonine Deficiency Depressed the Disease Resistance, Immune and Physical Barriers in the Gills of Juvenile Grass Carp (Ctenopharyngodon Idella) under Infection of Flavobacterium Columnare.” Fish & Shellfish Immunology, vol. 72, Jan. 2018, pp. 161–73. ScienceDirect,
      • Feng, R. N., et al. “Histidine Supplementation Improves Insulin Resistance through Suppressed Inflammation in Obese Women with the Metabolic Syndrome: A Randomised Controlled Trial.” Diabetologia, vol. 56, no. 5, May 2013, pp. 985–94. Springer Link,
      • Malothu, Ramesh. Medicinal Uses of L-Lysine: Past and, Accessed September 30, 2021. 
      • Mohajeri, M. H., et al. “Chronic Treatment with a Tryptophan-Rich Protein Hydrolysate Improves Emotional Processing, Mental Energy Levels and Reaction Time in Middle-Aged Women.” British Journal of Nutrition, vol. 113, no. 2, Jan. 2015, pp. 350–65. Cambridge University Press,
      • Smriga, Miro, et al. “Dietary L-Lysine Deficiency Increases Stress-Induced Anxiety and Fecal Excretion in Rats.” The Journal of Nutrition, vol. 132, no. 12, Dec. 2002, pp. 3744–46. Silverchair,
      • Thalacker-Mercer, Anna E., and Micah J. Drummond. “The Importance of Dietary Protein for Muscle Health in Inactive, Hospitalized Older Adults.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, vol. 1328, no. 1, 2014, pp. 1–9. Wiley Online Library,

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      Steven Hill

      Steven is a passionate health & fitness writer. Steven has considerable research experience, but also enjoys writing nutrition and workout articles for general readership. Today, it's easy to find health and wellness information. People use many different sites to get the information they ne

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