Amino acids are known as the “building blocks of life” because of their role in the creation of every protein within our bodies. Although there are upwards of 500 amino acids found in nature, all of these are derived from a basic set of 20. Of that group of 20 amino acids vital for protein synthesis, only two – cysteine and methionine – contain sulfur.
So what makes these two sulfur-containing amino acids so important? Read on to learn more about the ways in which cysteine and methionine uniquely contribute to protein synthesis, as well as their many benefits for skin and hair health and beauty.
Sulfur-Containing Amino Acids
In total, there are four amino acids that contain sulfur, but only two of them are part of the 20 involved in the creation of proteins. The other two – homocysteine and taurine – also provide important benefits but are not directly incorporated into proteins.
Excluding these four, all amino acids are comprised primarily of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen atoms. Although oxygen and sulfur are chemically similar, there are a few key differences that set the sulfur-containing amino acids apart from the rest. First, sulfur has a lower electronegativity than does oxygen, which makes the sulfur-containing amino acids more hydrophobic than aminos with oxygen .
Hydrophobic amino acids like cysteine and methionine have what are known as “side-chains” that don’t like aqueous environments. As a result, these amino acids are located deep within the protein’s core, away from water . This location allows these amino acids to have central roles in the formation of the structure of proteins.
Cysteine’s key role in protein synthesis is largely due to this amino’s ability to form disulfide bonds, which are part of the main structure of many proteins . Additionally, cysteine is a key component of a specific protein called glutathione, which acts as a powerful antioxidant. It helps to protect DNA from damage, supports immune system function, and even “recharges” the body’s supply of vitamins C and E .
Because methionine is one of the most hydrophobic amino acids, it initiates the synthesis of nearly all eukaryotic proteins . In addition, a derivative of methionine called S-Adenosylmethionine (SAM) has been shown to play a vital role in a large variety of important cellular activities within the body, including the synthesis of fatty acids, other amino acids, and sulfur containing nutrients like biotin . Biotin has long been used for improving the health and beauty of skin, hair, and nails, and without enough biotin, the skin may become dry and irritated, nails may become brittle, and hair may begin to fall out or become dull and lackluster .
It’s apparent that the unique sulfur-containing structure of cysteine and methionine allow these amino acids to perform specialized functions during the process of protein synthesis. More importantly, however, is understanding that while each individual amino acid is responsible for a unique role in this process, it is the combination of the 20 protein-synthesizing aminos that truly benefits the body and skin.
Just like each individual part under your vehicle’s hood is crucial for its optimal function, you need the entire system as a whole in order for your car to run. Otherwise, you just have a mess of unusable parts and a car that won’t start.
The same is true of amino acids for your skin’s health and beauty. Specific aminos like cysteine and methionine play central roles in protein synthesis, but without the right combination of proline, glycine, hydroxyproline, and arginine, for example, collagen production would not be able to occur.
Thus, the best amino acid formulas for optimal skin health and appearance will contain a combination of the 20 amino acids used in protein synthesis and not just one or two individual aminos. This is why the products of the AminoGenesis collection rely on a unique blend of amino acids to yield maximum results.
For more information about the unique skin benefits of amino acids, and to stay up-to-date on the latest offers and deals, sign up today to become an AminoGenesis Insider!
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