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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.
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.
|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)|
|Amino acid(s)||mg per kg body weight||mg per 70 kg||mg per 100 kg|
+ C Cysteine
|10.4 + 4.1 (15 total)||1050||1500|
+ Y Tyrosine
|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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