The Best Amino Acid Supplements Reviewed
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Our Top 3 Picks
- Optimum Nutrition BCAA 1000 mg
- Branched Chain Amino Acids
- Optimum Nutrition Superior Amino
- Contains Micronized Amino Acids
- Dymatize Nutrition BCAA Complex 5050
- Supports Muscle Protein Synthesis
What are amino acids?
While some amino acids can be produced in your body, most are in a category known as primary ones. What this means is that these are not produced in the body, but must be provided via other sources such as food or in a supplement. Simply put, amino acids are the foundation, or base, of protein molecules. When you consume protein, your body breaks the molecules and at this stage the amino acids are revealed and then are used for a variety of processes. Many of these processes involve things like burning fat or building muscle. For this reason, amino acid supplements are typically associated with athletes who have these specific goals. However, anyone can benefit.
Before discussing in more detail all of the benefits of taking an amino acid supplement (see below reviews), it is first important to understand the possible symptoms and risks your body could be experiencing if you have an amino acid deficiency. You may suffer from a weakened immune system, memory problems, fatigue, depression, digestive problems, and more. There is such a wide range of problems because amino acids are so powerful and are capable of doing so much. Each amino acid has a different use in the body (or is capable of doing something different), which is why it is so important to make sure you have the right amount of both the essential and other amino acids.
10 Best Amino Acids
1. Optimum Nutrition BCAA
Typical results include a natural but slightly accelerated progression in muscle mass, and a lower recovery time than exercise and nutrition alone.
400 capsules provide a massive amount of the product, so it is great value for money, and will last as long as possible through proper use and consumption.
- Great for gaining muscle mass
- Great price value
- Great for fat loss
- Lower dosage of protein
2. Optimum Nutrition Superior
They help to accelerate fat loss, and muscle repair, as well as the natural growth of the muscles, so they are useful to any person at any level of physical fitness and training.
These are to be taken six times a day, before meals and before and after training, which is considerably more than other amino acid tablets. The main downside is that they are much larger than other, smaller tablets, and can be difficult to swallow, which is also made worse by the higher rate of taking the tablets.
- Contains seven essential amino acids
- Helps build and maintain muscle mass
- Potent formula
- Needs to be taken 6 times a day
3. Dymatize Nutrition 5050
These are easy to consume up to three times a day with or before a meal as part of a healthy diet and exercise regime. It is unflavoured, so there are no artificial colourings or flavours, making it a totally healthy protein supplement. Each batch contains about 60 portions, so it is great value for money for those who train hard for a prolonged period of time.
The main drawback is that it is not in capsule form, so it has to be added to a shake or smoothie; that makes it not as convenient to take as an amino acid capsule supplement.
However, some customers may find this much easier to consume if they have difficulty taking tablets or if they regularly take shakes, and that makes this product rate pretty high on our list.
- No artificial ingredients
- Potent formula
- Does not mix well
4. Dymatize Nutrition 2200
Capsules are much more convenient and easy to take than a powder that is added to a shake.
With 50 servings in each container, this option is excellent value for money and will last for those who train hard for long periods of time. It aids fat loss and muscle growth, so it's a great addition to the diet of anyone of any physical ability and training level.
Added vitamin B6 helps your body to absorb as much of the proteins as possible, and this option contains the best quality amino acids available to help you build the body of your dreams.
Dymatize has combined the most essential amino acids for much regeneration and developed them in order to make their release for an extended amount of time in order to maximise the benefits for your muscular growth.
- Promotes muscle growth
- Contains vitamin B6
- Great price value
5. MRM BCAA
It comes in a powder form, and this particular option is lemonade flavoured, however there are other flavours to choose from for the taste preferences of the customer. The directed use is three scoops twice a day, so it is easily added to shakes and smoothies in order to consume it, which many find easier than taking capsule tablets.
There are over 150 servings per container, so it can easily last for over a month, which is great value for money.
The MRM BCAA + G 1000 is totally vegan and gluten free, so it is ideal for any one of any physical ability or dietary requirement to help them reach their body goals.
- 100% vegan
- Gluten free
- Great price value
- Unpleasant taste
6. Dymatize Nutrition L-Carnitine
The container has around 60 servings of the capsules, which are taken 1-2 times a day with a meal for the most convenient usage possible. It is fully vegan and wheat free, so these capsules are suitable for a number of varied dietary requirements.
The capsule form makes it very easy and convenient to take the supplement as there is no need for shakes and smoothies, so it is a much lower calorie option than some powder forms.
It is specifically formulated for adults over the age of 18, and is not recommended for teens, pregnant women, or women who are lactating; you should also consult with your physician before taking the supplement to ensure that it is safe to do so.
- Helps with fat burning
- Promotes muscle growth and development
- 100% vegan
- Not recommended for teens and pregnant women
7. Now Foods Taurine
Simply take once or twice a day with water in between meals for the benefits that these capsules offers. This product in particular has twice the amount of taurine as a usual portion, so you can get the standard or double strength product depending on your own personal preference.
The capsules are totally vegan and gluten free, so the can be taken by anyone, no matter their dietary preference and requirements.
Finally, these capsules should only be taken by those who are over 18.
- Potent formula
- 100% vegan
- Gluten free
- It may make you feel lethargic
8. Now Foods L-Arginine
The capsules are vegan and gluten free, so they are suitable for a variety of dietary requirements for anyone who wishes to advance their fitness and health levels. The L-Arginine aids the metabolism and the other ingredients help to provide more energy for a productive day and successful workout.
These capsules are pharmaceutical grade supplements, so they are totally safe to use, but should still not be taken unless you have consulted a physician, and should never be taken when pregnant or breastfeeding.
- 100% vegan
- Gluten free
- Potent formula
- Not suitable for pregnant women or women who breastfeed
9. Source Naturals L-Lysine
With 100 tablets per container, these tablets are a great value for money and are guaranteed to last over three months with proper use and consumption. As with all supplements, you should consult a physician before usage.
- Completely natural
- Suitable for vegetarians and vegans
- Gluten free
- Large pills
10. Now Foods L-Tyrosine
With 120 tablets per bottle, these are great value for money and suitable for a variety of dietary requirements.
They come with more risks than some of the other amino acids on this list, such as being danger to those with an over active thyroid, or those who are taking different types of medications, so it is vitally important to consult a physician before taking any of these supplements.
- Great for beginners
- Great money value
- Potent formula
- Not suitable for those with an over active thyroid
Each amino ccid has its own set of uses and benefits. There are different formulations that you can find in the market but primarily you will find that as separate supplements of either Glutamine or Leucine or Cystene while other times you may find them in combinations known as Branched Chain Amino Acids also known as BCAA. BCAA consists of multiple Amino Acids in the same formulation. The BCAA consist of 3 main amino acids: Leucine, Valine and Isoleucine. We will cover the important benefits of certain amino acids/BCAA as follows:
Branched chain Amino Acids
BCAA’s have a huge following in the body building committee and it seems that there are valid reasons behind it. Leucine, Valine and Isoleucine, the components of BCAA together help manufacture proteins and recover from breakdown post work out. They also help kindle the production of insulin, the main purpose of which is to allow circulating blood sugar to be taken up by the muscle cells and then used as a source of energy. This insulin creation encourages amino acid uptake by the muscle.
Part of the conditional amino acids is L-Tyrosine. Studies have shown that the use of L-Tyrosine is helpful in providing relief to the body when one is undergoing stress such as death, prolonged work or even work outs. Tyrosine also promotes the absorption of other important amino acids while also playing a part in the production of chemicals like dopamine and hormones like epinephrine. Overall, this amino acid has benefits for endurance athletes, body builders and people who are experiencing stress.
Another important amino acid, L-Arginine, promotes healthy muscle growth and helps the metabolism of other foods. Arginine is helpful in wound healing, assisting kidneys remove waste and dilating and relaxes arteries. This dilation works wonders for the health of the heart and even for people who suffer from hypertension.
Found as L-lysine, this amino acid is part of the essential ones and is naturally found in the foods that you eat. It has a host of benefits that are crucial for the body. L-Lysine helps the gastrointestinal tract (gut) absorb calcium for the body. Studies also show that populations who consume less or are deficient in lysine suffer from anxiety and a compromised immune system. It’s also important in the formation of carnitine, which turns fatty acids into energy and also reduces cholesterol levels.
With BCAA’s 5gm before a work out and 5 gm after the work out is recommended for athletes and body builders. Lesser amounts are effective for people who are taking it for other benefits. Using BCAA’s immediately before or during a strenuous workout or cardio session will increase performance. BCAA’s also pair well with Vitamin B complex supplements so taking them together may be beneficial. It is a good idea to consult your trainer or doctor before starting a regimen of BCAA’s.
Tyrosine supplements of about 500-1000mg should be taken a minimum of about 30 minutes before meals. This should be divided into 3 doses, daily. Also, taking B vitamins like B6 and B9 and copper along with this supplement aids the body to convert tyrosine into important chemicals within the brain.
Lysine may be taken at 16 mg (for 1 kg) of bodyweight for body builders. Others looking to take Lysine for its benefits should consult a doctor or pharmacist to start a proper dose.
Some Precautions and General Information
As with any product, side effects are common when too much of anything is taken. Since amino acids are ingested via food, it is obvious that they are safe. However, with supplements, it is possible to overdose or them and then bare the harmful effects. Some of the common side effects experienced with BCAA’s are fatigue and a loss of coordination, nausea, pain and headaches.
Side effects of Tyrosine consist of over stimulation, anxiety, nausea, headache, fatigue, heartburn, insomnia. Arginine may cause abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, gout and may exacerbate breathing in people suffering from insomnia. Lastly, side effects of Lysine consist of an increase in cholesterol 8LDL), stomach issues and gallstones. If you experience any of these side effects while on amino acid supplements, please stop the regimen immediately and consult your doctor.
Amino acids are found naturally in various foods and consumption of these foods may provide significant levels required by the body. For example, Lysine is found in cheese, eggs, milk, meat, yeast, potatoes and lima beans while Arginine is found in whole-wheat, nuts and seeds, rice, chocolate, raisins, soy. The same applies for various BCAA’s. Incorporation of these foods in regular diet may show benefits for consumers.
Furthermore, there are quite a few brands in the market that carry variations of amino acid supplements and it can be quite difficult to pick out the right one. Choosing between powder form or tablet/ capsule form is also something to consider. Taking background information about the manufacturers and the quality they produce is very important for consumers too when choosing amino acid supplements to start on.
Criteria for Evaluation
In the body building and athletic world, amino acid supplements are no new thing. You walk into a gym or a play field and every person around you has these bottles filled with liquid that they keep drinking during work outs. These supplements are a crucial part of this industry but one can wonder, how do you go about picking that one product for you out of hundreds that are available online? The list here is meant for that purpose. To shorten the struggle of vetting through various products and skipping the stage of confusion, we narrowed down to the 10 best available and made the choice easier for you. How do we made that list of 10? Simple, we had our own criteria for selection and this section will elaborate on that.
This one sounds like common sense and probably the first thing one should do when you come across a product, but with the large number of products out there? How exactly can you test each one? Hence, we do that for you. Also, that significant claims that these products come with is of importance too. For example, Dymatize Nutrition L-Carnitine Xtreme claims that it helps with fat burning while MRM BCAA + G Lemonade claims that the product is suitable for vegans. It’s claims like this that are put at the forefront of our work during the product testing phase.
User Reviews and Ratings
Every recommendation pretty much comes down to this. The human body is formed in such a way that everybody reacts differently to a certain product. So, one person testing a product does not give accurate representation of its effect. However, if a large number of people test the product it is easier to gauge what the general population would experience- simple statistics. Hence, it is important to see how people react to various products especially with the hundreds of products available everywhere.
In the end, though, forming this list is a lot of hard work. We go through hundreds of reviews and ratings everywhere by people who actually used the product and then try and narrow down to the products that worked best for the majority. We don’t just stop there. For your convenience, we break down the good and the bad of each product into an extremely useful pros and cons list. This list not only makes it easier to judge a product on a glance but also helps make your decision easier. We also test the products ourselves and incorporate that into the product list. For example, pros like gluten free, and potent formula are listed against cons like not suitable for teens and pregnant women or makes you lethargic.
Potential for Side Effects
Amino acids are products that humans take from various food products so their bodily functions can improve. Since they are natural products, it makes them much safer than other options.
However, we always try and recommend those products, on the basis of thorough research, that have the least known side effects and the least harmful ones. Some of the common side effects seen with amino acid supplement in take consist of over stimulation, anxiety, nausea, headache, fatigue, heartburn, insomnia. Abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, gout and exacerbated breathing in people suffering from insomnia has also been seen.
Lastly, side effects like an increase in LDL cholesterol, diarrhea and gallstones. These side effects depend on the type of amino acid you are taking (please see above). If you experience any of these side effects while on amino acid supplements, please stop the regimen immediately and consult your doctor.
While formulating this list for some of the best amino acid supplements, another significant factor that is taken into consideration is how well known and well received a particular brand is. It is really important to make sure that brands that have the best market reputation and the finest products are included in the lists. Optimum Nutrition, Dymatize Nutrition, MRM BCAA, Now Foods Now Foods are some of the most trustworthy and good quality products out there and have hence been included in our list.
Safety of the Supplement
Dietary supplements are some of the safest products one can use for their body. This is because products like amino acids are natural products that are ingested via food. Taking them as a supplementary dose helps people not only improve their natural, bodily functions but also provides added benefits like muscle growth and fat burning. All the products mentioned in this list are safe to use as they are manufactured by well-known and established brands. Unless you have any allergies or dietary restrictions, these products should be appropriate for you. However, as a protective measure, it is always best to consult a doctor, pharmacist or your trainer before starting a new regimen.
Ingredients and Their Effectiveness
Amino acid supplements almost always consist of also other non-harmful binding agents that are necessary for the products. If you are curious, these ingredients are easily available either on the bottle or online. The main ingredient is always listed as the type of amino acid while other ingredients consist of gelatin (in case of capsules), magnesium stearate, silica etc. Most formulations do not contain sugar so are suitable for diabetics however it is advisable to read the label on every product before starting a regimen.
One of the main differences in ingredients that you may find is the actual amino acid in the product, for example an L- Tyrosine supplement will only carry Tyrosine while L- Arginine product will only carry Arginine. BCAA’s carry 3 important amino acids (see above) that work best when combined with one another. Also, between brands, the actual dose of how much amino acid is actually in there may vary. Before starting an amino acid regimen, it is a good idea to consult your trainer or doctor so they can advise on which amino acid suits your requirements best.
Lastly, reviews of the suggested products are proof of their efficiency. For those people who are looking to purchase their amino acid supplements, it is a good idea to study the pros of taking amino acids or how they may benefit you.
Q) What are these supplements?
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. This means that amino acids are required in the body to be able to build proteins. The human body consists of 20 important amino acids that help perform important functions in the body (for more information, please see above). Amino acid supplements in turn are supplements that consist of the important amino acids that people need to improve bodily functions and provide benefits. These supplements are divided into essential and conditional amino acids.
Q) What amino acid supplements to take?
Amino acids are not something to be taken lightly. With a proper diet, you can get the essential onesin your food. However, in times of stress and illness, conditional ones like arginine, cysteine, glutamine, tyrosine are used as supplements. BCAA’s are also a popular group used more commonly among athletes and body builders. Each one has various effects and benefits and should be used according to the benefit desired.
Q) In what forms are these supplements available?
The most common form are in powder. They are easier to use, have faster absorption rates and also come in flavors. With powders, it’s also easier to take them during workouts as they can be incorporated into drinks like water. The other easily available forms are capsule and tablets.
Q) Who should take them?
People who are looking to control their diabetes or are looking to get an energy boost may benefit from a BCAA course while people who are under a lot of stress or are working on improving muscle mass should may benefit from Tyrosine. Patients with heart disease and hypertension are recommended to use Arginine while people suffering from anxiety and a compromised immune system may experience positive effects from the use of Lysine.
Q) Where can I naturally get amino acids from?
They are found naturally in various foods and eating of these foods may provide important levels required by the body. For example, Lysine is found in Cheese, eggs, milk, meat, yeast, potatoes and lima beans while other amino acids can be found in whole-wheat, nuts and seeds, rice, chocolate, raisins, soy. The same applies for various BCAA’S. Incorporation of these foods in regular diet may show benefits for consumers. Tyrosine is found naturally in raw Spirulina, soy Protein Isolate, raw egg whites, low-fat cottage cheese, Alaskan salmon and light meat turkey.
Q)Any side effects?
Each amino acid can cause a different effect in the body. While they are relatively safe, they may cause side effects when taken in large quantities or not taken properly. Please read our section above and regarding the potential side effects for more details.
Q) How do I chose between the various amino acid products available?
There are various product available online and in store, however, the easiest way to pick from amongst these products is to make a list of necessities you need from a particular product or make a pro and con list. With amino acids, a particular thing to keep in mind is the actual dosage of product available per supplement. Also, ingredients are something to keep a look out for while choosing a product, for example picking products that are designed for vegans or vegetarians or have palatable tastes may be helpful. Amino acid supplements are also available in different flavors especially in the BCAA formulations.
Some of the products covered in this recommended list are: Optimum Nutrition BCAA mg, Optimum Nutrition Superior Amino Tabs, Dymatize Nutrition BCAA Complex Branched Chain Amino Acids, Dymatize Nutrition BCAA Complex Branched Chain Amino Acids, MRM BCAA + G Lemonade, Dymatize Nutrition L-Carnitine Xtreme, Now Foods Taurine Double Strength, Now Foods L-Arginine mg, Source Naturals Best Amino Acids L-Lysine mg, Now Foods L-Tyrosine mg.
Q) Where can I purchase these supplements?
There are various places where one can buy them from, however the easiest place available is online. Websites like Amazon not only sell the product but also carry offers and reviews that help when narrowing down to the right choice.
Q) How should I take my supplements?
Please see our Usage Recommendations section above for more details.
Q) Are amino acid supplements important for body builders and athletes?
Amino acid supplements form the crux of most body builder and athletes work out routines. They help build proteins in the body which are crucial for people looking to build muscle mass as well as maintain their weight while working out. Athletes also benefit from these supplements as they have positive effects when the body is under stress in conditions like endurance races or long term training.