Peptides are short chains of amino acids held together by peptide bonds. Amino acid molecules, on the other hand, are single molecules with no peptide bonds. Both of these organic compounds are essential to many biological functions. When amino acids bond together in certain orders, they form peptides that trigger specific actions in the body. They affect everything from appetite to memory performance.
These combinations of amino acids linked by peptide bonds operate in molecules to promote how the body works. When enough amino acids form together, peptides can become complex proteins.
A peptide is any amino acid chain with fewer than 50 amino acids. However, anything over 50 amino acids gets you into protein territory. Many people are understandably confused as to the difference between peptides and amino acids. Hopefully, this information will help clarify how they’re different and how they work together to promote health and performance.
What Are Amino Acids?
Amino acids are vital molecules made of basic elements like oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, and hydrogen. They are the building blocks of proteins and peptides. When those elements are in specific configurations, enough amino acids bond together into increasingly complex molecules.
Nine essential amino acids exist: tryptophan, valine, leucine, histidine, lysine, isoleucine, phenylalanine, methionine, and threonine. There are also more amino acids called non-essential ones that are only used in response to stress or sickness. Scientists have discovered hundreds of amino acids. However, only twenty of those are found in animal DNA. Every living organism uses amino acids to make proteins.
The human body has thousands of proteins, each made of peptide chains that are built of individual amino acids. Every protein has an important function. They influence how the body moves, heals, processes foods, expends energy, and more. The way the amino acid combines determines which proteins form and what they do.
Amino acids serve vital functions, like:
Breaking down the foods you eat
Producing hormones and chemicals in the brain
Fueling the body with energy and repairing damaged tissues
Creating proteins that build and maintain muscles
Protect the immune system and help the body fight disease
Facilitate regular digestive performance
These are just some of the things amino acids do.
Adding Amino Acids
Dieting and taking supplements are the best ways to add more amino acids. Typically, a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals is enough for your body to make the necessary proteins. However, foods like fish, beef, poultry, dairy, and nuts have large amounts of amino acids. They’re also high in protein and good for overall health.
You can also find effective amino acid supplements at your local grocery or health store. When in doubt, ask someone working there about the products and how to take them.
The Peptide Basics
If amino acids are like the letters in the alphabet, peptides are words. When you add certain letters in order, you spell words and can build quite an impressive vocabulary! Eventually, those words come together to form sentences or, in this case, proteins.
Peptides are amino acid chains that are smaller than 50 amino acids. Anything longer than that, and you have protein. Peptides facilitate certain biological functions and act as a sort of stimulant for things like hormone growth and metabolism.
BPC-157 is an example of a peptide. The body protection compound (BPC) is a partial sequence found in human gastric juice. In animal tests, BPC-157 promoted type 1 collagen production, which facilitated healing in complex injuries like tendon and ligament injuries. In addition, the peptide did a good job of lowering inflammation and healing burns.
This is just one example of the potential of peptides. As researchers find out more, there will be more applications and interesting ways to use them without increasing the risk of addiction or other harmful side effects.
Learning about amino acids, peptides, and proteins will help people make better choices about diet and lifestyle. Once you know how proteins are built and function, you’re more likely to pay close attention to the foods you eat, how much you exercise, and how you can improve overall health and wellness.