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Essential amino acid


An essential amino acid, or indispensable amino acid, is an amino acid that cannot be synthesized de novo (from scratch) by the organism, and thus must be supplied in its diet. The nine amino acids humans cannot synthesize are phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, and histidine (i.e., F V T W M L I K H).

Six other amino acids are considered conditionally essential in the human diet, meaning their synthesis can be limited under special pathophysiological conditions, such as prematurity in the infant or individuals in severe catabolic distress. These six are arginine, cysteine, glycine, glutamine, proline, and tyrosine (i.e. R C G Q P Y). Five amino acids are dispensable in humans, meaning they can be synthesized in the body. These five are alanine, aspartic acid, asparagine, glutamic acid and serine (i.e., A D N E S).

(*) Essential only in certain cases.

(**) Pyrrolysine, sometimes considered "the 22nd amino acid", is not used by humans.

Eukaryotes can synthesize some of the amino acids from other substrates. Consequently, only a subset of the amino acids used in protein synthesis are essential nutrients.

Estimating the daily requirement for the indispensable amino acids has proven to be difficult; these numbers have undergone considerable revision over the last 20 years. The following table lists the WHO recommended daily amounts currently in use for essential amino acids in adult humans, together with their standard one-letter abbreviations. Food sources are identified based on the USDA National Nutrient Database Release.


Essential Non-Essential
Histidine (H) Alanine (A)
Isoleucine (I) Arginine* (R)
Leucine (L) Aspartic acid (D)
Lysine (K) Cysteine* (C)
Methionine (M) Glutamic acid (E)
Phenylalanine (F) Glutamine* (Q)
Threonine (T) Glycine* (G)
Tryptophan (W) Proline* (P)
Valine (V) Serine* (S)
Tyrosine* (Y)
Asparagine* (N)
Selenocysteine (U)
Pyrrolysine** (O)
Amino acid(s) mg per kg body weight mg per 70 kg mg per 100 kg
H Histidine 10 700 1000
I Isoleucine 20 1400 2000
L Leucine 39 2730 3900
K Lysine 30 2100 3000
M Methionine

+ C Cysteine

10.4 + 4.1 (15 total) 1050 1500
F Phenylalanine

+ Y Tyrosine

25 (total) 1750 2500
T Threonine 15 1050 1500
W Tryptophan 4 280 400
V Valine 26 1820 2600
Source protein (g) Calories (kcal) protein/Calorie
(mg / kcal)
L (mg) T (mg) W (mg) M+C (mg)
Apples, raw (100 g) 0.26 52 5 12 6 1 2
Minimum daily reference 22 2000 11
Bananas, raw (100 g) 1 89 12 500 28 9 17
Carrot, raw (100 g) 1 41 23 101 191 12 103
US FDA daily / WHO (70 kg) 50 2000 25 2730 1050 280 1050
Upper daily reference 78 2000 39
Peanut, valencia, raw (100 g) 48 570 84 1,627 859 244 630
Soybeans, dry (100 g) 40 451 88 2634 1719 575 1172
Egg, whole, raw (100 g) 13 143 91 912 556 167 652
Broccoli, raw (100 g) 3 28 107 141 91 29 54
Soy Sauce, typical (100 g) 11 60 175 729 403 182 576
Beef, grass-fed, lean (100 g) 23 117 197

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Wikipedia

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