Amino acids in human and animal nutrition

Adv Biochem Eng Biotechnol. 2014:143:189-228. doi: 10.1007/10_2014_269.


Amino acids are key components of human and animal nutrition, both as part of a protein-containing diet, and as supplemented individual products. In the last 10 years there has been a marked move away from the extraction of amino acids from natural products, which has been replaced by efficient fermentation processes using nonanimal carbon sources. Today several amino acids are produced in fermentation plants with capacities of more than 100,000 tonnes to serve the requirements of animal feed and human nutrition. The main fermentative amino acids for animal nutrition are L-lysine, L-threonine, and L-tryptophan. DL-Methionine continues to be manufactured for animal feed use principally by chemical synthesis, and a pharmaceutical grade is manufactured by enzymatic resolution. Amino acids play an important role in medical nutrition, particularly in parenteral nutrition, where there are high purity requirements for infusion grade products. Amino acids are also appearing more often in dietary supplements, initially for performance athletes, but increasingly for the general population. As the understanding of the effects of the individual amino acids on the human metabolism is deepened, more specialized product mixtures are being offered to improve athletic performance and for body-building.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / metabolism*
  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Requirements / physiology*


  • Amino Acids