Essential amino acid (EAA)

Last Updated: September 28 2022

Proteins are composed of amino acids, some of which your body can synthesize and others not. The nine you need yet cannot synthesize, and thus need to ingest, are called essential amino acids (EAAs). A protein is said to be complete when it has enough of each EAA.

Essential amino acid (EAA) is most often used for

Summary

Proteins are composed of amino acids, some of which your body can synthesize and others not. The nine you need yet cannot synthesize, and thus need to ingest, are called essential amino acids (EAAs). Among those, branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are crucial to your muscles,[1] with leucine being especially anabolic.

Amino acids: requirements of adults and contents of proteins

Essential Amino Acid (EAA)mg/kg/dayCompleteMilkPeaRiceSoyWhey
Leucine (BCCA)
39
*59*
97
97
88
80
116
Isoleucine (BCCA)
20
*30*
50
54
40
43
59
Valine (BCCA)
26
*39*
58
81
55
44
58
Cystine
4
*6*
9
14
17
12
20
Histidine
10
*15*
30
17
24
26
21
Lysine
30
*45*
80
83
33
60
102
Methionine
10
*16*
27
5
29
10
23
Methionine + cysteine
15
*22*
30
8
39
14
36
Phenylalanine + tyrosine
25
*30*
99
94
111
90
66
Threonine
15
*23*
47
43
38
37
76
Tryptophan
4
*6*
13
11
14
13
20

mg/kg/day = daily requirement in milligrams (of a given amino acid) per kilogram (of body weight) per day | Complete/Milk/Pea/Rice/Soy/Whey = milligrams of amino acid per gram of complete/milk/pea/rice/soy/whey protein (mg/g)
References: World Health Organization. Protein and Amino Acid Requirements in Human Nutrition, page 245, table 49. 2007.[2] Kalman. Foods. 2014.[3] Gorissen et al. Amino Acids. 2018.[4] USDA Food Composition Databases (accessed: 2018 Sep)

A protein is called complete when, proportionally to its overall amino-acid content, it has enough of each EAA. The main advantage of animal proteins is that most are complete.

What else is Essential amino acid (EAA) known as?
Note that Essential amino acid (EAA) is also known as:
  • EAAs

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    References
    2.^Joint WHO/FAO/UNU Expert ConsultationProtein and Amino Acid Requirements in Human NutritionWorld Health Organ Tech Rep Ser.(2007)
    4.^Stefan H M Gorissen, Julie J R Crombag, Joan M G Senden, W A Huub Waterval, Jörgen Bierau, Lex B Verdijk, Luc J C van LoonProtein Content and Amino Acid Composition of Commercially Available Plant-Based Protein IsolatesAmino Acids.(2018 Dec)