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Health Benefits of Amino Acids in Dairy Products

By: by Amino Science
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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:

  1. Histidine
  2. Isoleucine
  3. Leucine
  4. Lysine
  5. Methionine
  6. Phenylalanine
  7. Threonine
  8. Tryptophan
  9. Valine

The nonessential amino acids (NEAAs) are:

  1. Alanine
  2. Arginine
  3. Asparagine
  4. Aspartic Acid
  5. Cysteine
  6. Glutamic Acid
  7. Glutamine
  8. Glycine
  9. Proline
  10. Serine
  11. Tyrosine

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).

Health Benefits of Amino Acids in Dairy

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.

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