Amino acids are organic compounds resembling salts. Forming proteins, they are responsible for the growth, repair, and maintenance of tissues, ensuring optimal functioning of organs and systems. The importance of amino acids is undeniable since protein is present in virtually every cell of the human body: internal organs, connective tissues, muscles, glands, skin, bones, and hair.
Amino acid manufacturing is a complex process that begins with raw material processing and goes through various stages to obtain the final high-quality product. However, consumers are more interested than ever in purchasing such a valuable product because it helps maintain health and vitality, increases energy levels, and enhances physical fitness. The range of actions of a dietary supplement with amino acids is diverse, and it is precisely this that generates demand. In this article, we will explore the stages and methods involved in manufacturing, as well as consider the problematic aspect of the issue.
What are amino acids?
By their nature, amino acids are molecules that combine to form proteins. Amino acids themselves consist of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. There are approximately 20 primary types of amino acids, each of which synthesises specific types of enzymes and works with particular protein varieties.
The role of amino acids can be assessed by examining the array of functions they perform:
- Tissue construction: Amino acids are a crucial building material for creating cells, tissues, organs, and muscles. They participate in the synthesis of new proteins necessary for growth, recovery, and the maintenance of the body’s structure.
- Oxygen transportation: Amino acids closely interact with haemoglobin, delivering oxygen to all organs and tissues.
- Metabolism regulation: Certain types of amino acids regulate metabolism, including carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism.
- Tissue and organ regeneration: Amino acids play a direct role in the restorative processes following injuries and damages. They form new proteins and cellular structures, which are vital stages of regeneration.
- Support of the Central Nervous System (CNS): Amino acids act as neurotransmitters, responsible for transmitting nerve impulses. Fast and precise communication between neurons allows the nervous system to effectively regulate movement, muscle tone, and sensory perception.
It should be emphasised that amino acids’ work extends beyond the listed functions. These essential compounds are also involved in cholesterol breakdown, processing of excess fatty tissues, collagen formation, coordination support, immune system function, and much more. Therefore, amino acids are vital as they participate in virtually every process within the body’s activities.
But how do amino acids appear in the human body? Primarily, they come from the food we eat. The source of amino acids is protein-rich foods: meat, fish, dairy products, eggs, legumes, and nuts. Proteins containing amino acids are broadly categorised as complete and incomplete.
- Complete proteins have all the essential amino acids in their composition. They can be obtained by consuming meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, and soy.
- Incomplete proteins contain an insufficient amount of essential amino acids, making them less valuable. These include plant-based foods such as legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds.
Some amino acids can also be obtained from dietary supplements and specialised products like amino acid powders, capsules, and other forms.
According to their structure and role in the organism, amino acids are divided into three main categories:
- Replaceable amino acids are synthesised by the body itself. They are either obtained from food or produced from other substances and amino acids. This group includes arginine, asparagine, glutamine, glutamic acid, glycine, carnitine, ornithine, taurine, and partially proline and serine.
- Essential amino acids can only be obtained from external sources: through food or dietary supplements. Key amino acids in this category are valine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, threonine, tryptophan, and phenylalanine.
- Conditionally essential amino acids. This category can be considered a subset of the previous one, but with one significant difference – they can be synthesised by the body, albeit in very small amounts and under specific conditions. Tyrosine, cysteine, histidine, and alanine are among the amino acids included in this group.
Each type is essential for the proper functioning of the organism. However, the demand for essential amino acids is felt more frequently due to the complexity of obtaining these elements. Amino acid supplements address the issue of deficiency in the most convenient and straightforward manner, as they support the functioning of all organs and tissues without unnecessary effort.
Methods for amino acid manufacturing
Methods of private-label amino acid manufacturing are a fundamental link in creating high-quality dietary supplements. Their variety allows for obtaining different types of amino acids that can be applied in various fields, ranging from sports nutrition to medical uses. Let us examine the key ones.
Microbial fermentation means the use of microorganisms, such as bacteria or yeast, which synthesise the necessary amino acids during their metabolic processes. The structure of the resulting amino acid is closely similar to natural ones, promoting easy assimilation in the body.
- Advantages: high product quality and purity, a wide range of possibilities for creating products with different functionalities.
- Disadvantages: expensive materials and equipment, the complexity of the process with multiple stages.
Enzymatic synthesis is based on the utilisation of enzymes that catalyse reactions to synthesise amino acids from simple molecules. The significant difference from the previous method lies in the use of all enzymes simultaneously, rather than individually.
- Advantages: fewer steps, relatively simple and versatile equipment.
- Disadvantages: microorganisms are extremely sensitive to slight changes in conditions; low product concentration.
Chemical synthesis involves chemical reactions that allow obtaining the required amino acids from simple chemical compounds. Here, enzymatic separation of amino acids is also partially applied as an additional stage of synthesis.
- Advantages: stability of the initial product, the possibility of multiple amino acid manufacturing after heating the mixture.
- Disadvantages: some components can be toxic, requiring additional efforts to verify and test the obtained product; limited availability of substances required for synthesis.
The choice of method depends on the manufacturer’s goals, requirements, and budget. Nevertheless, the variety of methods offers broad opportunities for creating efficient amino acid products.
Innovations in amino acid manufacturing
The amino acid manufacturing industry is undergoing a series of significant changes that contribute to progress and improvement in technological processes. The impact of innovations cannot be overstated: refining methods, approaches, and strategies allow for the development of cutting-edge products that meet consumer demands. Currently, the focus should be on a list of relevant trends.
1. Metabolic engineering
Metabolic engineering is a technology that incorporates research on metabolic specificity to create new products for addressing specific consumer needs. As a result, substantial changes occur in metabolic processes, leading to enhanced product quality and faster achievement of the desired effects. For instance, modifications to modern biochemical, molecular biology, and genetic methods have significantly increased lysine amino acid manufacturing, resulting in a considerable reduction in its cost.
Biocatalysis involves using various biologically active compounds to accelerate the catalysis of chemical reactions in amino acid manufacturing. This technology minimises energy consumption, making the manufacturing process economically efficient. Another reason for employing this technology is a more responsible approach to manufacturing waste, reducing toxicity and the high cost of metallic catalysts.
3. Process intensification
Process intensification aims to optimise and enhance various manufacturing operations. This category encompasses techniques such as reaction condition optimization, using new catalysts, and implementing novel separation methods, all of which contribute to improved amino acid yield and quality.
It is worth noting that such structural and process changes have a highly positive impact on amino acid development. The stability, quality, and accessibility of the final product are improved.
Application of amino acids
Despite the fact that all necessary amino acids can be obtained through food, various amino acid supplements are highly popular. They are widely used in the food industry to enhance the nutritional value and quality of products. Thanks to their valuable properties, amino acids are also used in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals for treating various diseases. A prominent example is how glutamic acid is often included in treatments for nervous system disorders, while histidine serves as an active component to support digestion.
In agriculture, amino acids are widely employed as feed additives. It is important to note that many plant-based protein sources contain insufficient amounts of specific amino acids such as lysine, leucine, methionine, threonine, and tryptophan. Therefore, to enrich animal feed, these key amino acids are added to the diet.
However, the application of amino acids is not limited solely to the aforementioned industries. In recent years, with the increasing interest in ecological alternative solutions, amino acids have found utility in various emerging fields, such as the manufacturing of bioplastics and biofuels. Amino acids have become crucial components in creating new materials that can be more environmentally friendly and sustainable.
Problems in the production of amino acids
Private-label amino acid manufacturing is a complex process that requires a high degree of professionalism. Taking care of even the smallest aspects of working with amino acids is essential because challenges await at every step. Dealing with them will not be difficult if you are familiar with their specifics and their impact on the manufacturing stages.
- Cost of manufacturing: Creating amino acids from scratch is not feasible; it is a highly labour-intensive process that demands special equipment and technologies. One should be prepared for financial expenses as it will be necessary to procure laboratory, measuring, and distribution equipment.
- Need for reliable raw material sources: The source and quality of raw materials significantly influence the final product. Ensuring reliable supplies of raw materials can be a challenging task, especially when suppliers are located in different regions and countries. However, to establish stable manufacturing, it is crucial to enter into contracts with representatives and thoroughly inspect materials for quality.
- Impact of the manufacturing process on the environment: Certain stages of amino acid manufacturing can be potentially harmful to the environment. Waste and emissions are aspects that require special attention, as they can have a negative impact on ecology and health. It is important to choose a suitable location for manufacturing and prioritise environmentally friendly methods and technologies.
With the growing interest in a healthy lifestyle and products with efficient functionality, the manufacturing of amino acids continues to hold a significant position in the food and pharmaceutical industries. Innovative methods and manufacturing technologies constantly emerge, enabling the offering of more effective and safe amino acid supplements, thereby enhancing the quality of life for consumers. Ultimately, the prospects of this industry leave no room for doubts, as health benefits remain a timeless and relevant trend.