The Growing Importance of Amino Acids
Amino acids are the building blocks of life and serve as natural compounds in various industries and applications. They are widely produced and utilized commercially, including as food seasoning, animal nutrients, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics.
The term amino acid is short for alpha-amino carboxylic acid. Commonly used as supplements in cell culture media and metabolism research, they act as building blocks of proteins and as intermediates in metabolism.
According to Grand View Research, the global amino acids market size was valued at USD 26.1 billion in 2021 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 7.4 percent over the next 10 years. The market is anticipated to be driven by the increasing demand for amino acids from the food, pharmaceutical, and nutraceutical industries.
The Asia Pacific market is expected to be the fastest growing market in terms of revenue-growth due to the increased consumer spending in the region. Other influencing factors include the growing adoption of a healthy lifestyle, and rapid expansion of industries, including nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, personal care, and cosmetics.
A Closer Look at Amino Acids
Today amino acids are used in several sectors, including the food industry as flavor enhancers. Glycine, cysteine, and D, L-alanine are also used as food additives, and mixtures of amino acids serve as flavor enhancers in the food industry.
Some products are often supplemented with certain amino acids to increase their nutritional value. Many plant-based products are deficient in certain amino acids, which can be introduced to provide consumers with extra nutrients to improve health. For example, bread can be enriched with lysine, and soy products can be enriched with methionine. Lysine, methionine, and glutamic acid are widely used in animal feeds.
Common Uses of Amino Acids
Amino acids are used as precursors for chemicals used in various industries, such as pesticides and herbicides. For example, threonine can be used to produce the herbicide azthreonam and glycine can be used to produce glyphosate, another herbicide.
Amino acids are widely used in dietary supplements owing to their ability to treat muscle soreness, sprain, and mental fatigue. Several amino acids like leucine, valine, proline, alanine, cysteine, and isoleucine are used in supplements for muscle growth and bodybuilding. Amino acids are also commonly used as preservatives in food and drink. Fruit juices are often preserved with the use of cysteine as an antioxidant.
Amino acids are used therapeutically for nutritional and pharmaceutical purposes. For example, patients are often infused with amino acids to supply these nutrients before and after surgical procedures. Treatments with single amino acids are part of the medical approach to control certain disease states. Examples include L-dihydroxyphenylalanine for Parkinson’s disease, glutamine and histidine to treat peptic ulcers, and arginine, citrulline, and ornithine to treat liver diseases.
Certain derivations of amino acids, especially glutamate, are used as surfactants in mild soaps and shampoos. D-Phensylglycine and D-hydroxyphenylglycine are intermediates used for the chemical synthesis of ß-lactam antibiotics such as synthetic versions of penicillin. Aspartame is a sweetener prepared from the individual component amino acids aspartic acid and phenylalanine.
DKSH offers a broad range of Amino acid solutions to cater to your pharmaceutical needs. Our international teams of technical specialists collaborate across borders to develop innovative solutions for companies looking to tap into the growing consumer needs. Contact us to learn more about our products and capabilities to support your business growth.
Christoph Zahner is based in Zurich, Switzerland. He is currently Senior Manager, Global Business Development, Pharmaceutical Industry at DKSH.