Health Benefits of Amino Acids in Dairy Products
Dairy isn’t for everyone: it can cause gastrointestinal issues such as bloating and diarrhea, as well as acne flare-ups. But if you’re lucky enough to be able to tolerate dairy, then it’s a terrific way to meet your daily protein requirements. In this article, we’re covering the amino acids in dairy products and the health benefits they confer. So grab yourself a cold glass of milk and keep reading!
Is Dairy a Good Source of Protein?
Along with meat and eggs, dairy is a great source of protein. In fact, it’s considered a complete protein, which means it contains all nine of the essential amino acids.
Protein is really just a string of different amino acids, which is why amino acids are called the "building blocks of protein."
There are 20 amino acids that make up the protein found in the human body. Some your body can make (the 11 nonessential amino acids) and some it cannot (the 9 essential amino acids). The specific amino acids used and the order in which they are sequenced determines the protein’s job in the body.
The essential amino acids (EAAs) are:
The nonessential amino acids (NEAAs) are:
- Aspartic Acid
- Glutamic Acid
The Makeup of Milk Protein
Dairy foods come from bovine (cow's milk), goat milk, and sheep milk, although the dairy cow is responsible for 85% of the world’s milk production.
Milk is made up of two primary proteins: casein protein (80%) and whey protein (20%).
Casein is a slow-acting protein. It takes a while to digest and release its component amino acids into the blood. Whey is a fast-acting protein, and frees up its individual amino acids for use in the body quicker. In other words, whey gets right to work, and when it runs out of juice, casein can step in and finish the job.
Together, these milk proteins, from which yogurt and cheese are also crafted, help to increase muscle protein synthesis when eaten after resistance exercise, increase stamina and endurance, speed muscle repair and recovery, and boost muscle mass and strength.
Let’s take a look at the specific amino acid profiles of some popular dairy products.
Amino Acids in Milk
One cup of 1% low-fat milk contains 8.5 grams of protein (17% of the daily value) with the following amino acid composition:
|Histidine||230 mg||Alanine||294 mg|
|Isoleucine||517 mg||Arginine||309 mg|
|Leucine||836 mg||Aspartic acid||647 mg|
|Lysine||676 mg||Cystine||78.4 mg|
|Methionine||213 mg||Glycine||181 mg|
|Phenylalanine||412 mg||Glutamic acid||1786 mg|
|Threonine||385 mg||Proline||826 mg|
|Tryptophan||120 mg||Serine||463 mg|
|Valine||571 mg||Tyrosine||412 mg|
Amino Acids in Yogurt
One cup of plain yogurt contains 8.5 grams of protein (17% of the daily value) with the following amino acid concentrations:
|Histidine||230 mg||Alanine||363 mg|
|Isoleucine||463 mg||Arginine||255 mg|
|Leucine||858 mg||Aspartic acid||674 mg|
|Lysine||762 mg||Cystine||78 mg|
|Methionine||250 mg||Glycine||206 mg|
|Phenylalanine||463 mg||Glutamic acid||1664 mg|
|Threonine||348 mg||Proline||1007 mg|
|Tryptophan||49 mg||Serine||527 mg|
|Valine||703 mg||Tyrosine||429 mg|
Amino Acids in Cheese
One cup of shredded cheddar cheese contains 25.8 grams of protein (52% of the daily value) with the following amino acid protein content:
|Histidine||618 mg||Alanine||849 mg|
|Isoleucine||1363 mg||Arginine||618 mg|
|Leucine||2191 mg||Aspartic acid||1959 mg|
|Lysine||1158 mg||Cystine||139 mg|
|Methionine||618 mg||Glycine||618 mg|
|Phenylalanine||1214 mg||Glutamic acid||5351 mg|
|Threonine||1180 mg||Proline||2822 mg|
|Tryptophan||618 mg||Serine||881 mg|
|Valine||1587 mg||Tyrosine||1252 mg|
Health Benefits of Amino Acids in Dairy
The high-quality protein in dairy is well known for helping to build and maintain body tissue for strong bones and muscles. But dairy goes beyond muscle boosting and bone health, and has even been shown to help protect against type 2 diabetes by optimizing blood glucose control.
The whey in dairy has a noteworthy concentration of the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs): leucine, isoleucine, and valine. And the high concentration of lysine in dairy has been shown to help lower postprandial glucose levels and prompt insulin secretion. Glucose homeostasis is further supported by the NEAAs arginine and glycine (1).
Additional evidence shows that eating dairy products can help protect against other metabolic risk factors, such as obesity and sarcopenia. As a satiating food and with higher levels of BCAAs than other protein sources, dairy protein can help support weight loss and fat burning while increasing skeletal muscle mass (2).
Lactose Intolerant? Don't Miss Out on Your EAAs!
If you have trouble digesting lactose or experience other digestive upsets or skin breakouts after drinking a glass of milk or eating a cup of yogurt, then you can get your amino acids from non-dairy protein sources, like:
Supplementation is also a good idea if you are following a vegetarian or vegan diet or are growing older. As we age, our muscles become less responsive to the muscle-building signals of protein, and we need to up our protein intake to stimulate muscle growth.
Whey protein is considered the gold standard of protein supplementation, but if you're lactose intolerant, whey protein isolate can exacerbate your condition. And even if you do tolerate dairy, there's a far more effective way to meet your essential amino acid needs.
Supplementing with an essential amino acid supplement cuts out the middle man, so you get even faster acting amino acids than you do from dietary proteins such as whey. You also get an optimal profile of amino acids with the most digestibility and bioavailability. And, because they're manufactured as single amino acids, these supplements can be formulated to target specific health needs, such as heart health, liver health, muscle health, etc.
The Amino Company specializes in essential amino acid supplements for these health conditions and more. You can shop our line of EAA blends here.