Composition of Amino Acids in Foodstuffs for Humans and Animals Academic Article uri icon


  • Amino acids (AAs) are the building blocks of proteins that have both structural and metabolic functions in humans and other animals. In mammals, birds, fish, and crustaceans, proteinogenic AAs are alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartate, cysteine, glutamate, glutamine, glycine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, proline, serine, threonine, tryptophan, tyrosine, and valine. All animals can synthesize de novo alanine, asparagine, aspartate, glutamate, glutamine, glycine, proline, and serine, whereas most mammals (including humans and pigs) can synthesize de novo arginine. Results of extensive research over the past three decades have shown that humans and other animals have dietary requirements for AAs that are synthesizable de novo in animal cells. Recent advances in analytical methods have allowed us to determine all proteinogenic AAs in foods consumed by humans, livestock, poultry, fish, and crustaceans. Both plant- and animal-sourced foods contain high amounts of glutamate, glutamine, aspartate, asparagine, and branched-chain AAs. Cysteine, glycine, lysine, methionine, proline, threonine, and tryptophan generally occur in low amounts in plant products but are enriched in animal products. In addition, taurine and creatine (essential for the integrity and function of tissues) are absent from plants but are abundant in meat and present in all animal-sourced foods. A combination of plant- and animal products is desirable for the healthy diets of humans and omnivorous animals. Furthermore, animal-sourced feedstuffs can be included in the diets of farm and companion animals to cost-effectively improve their growth performance, feed efficiency, and productivity, while helping to sustain the global animal agriculture (including aquaculture).

published proceedings

  • Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology

altmetric score

  • 5.15

author list (cited authors)

  • Li, P., He, W., & Wu, G.

citation count

  • 21

complete list of authors

  • Li, P||He, W||Wu, G

editor list (cited editors)

  • Wu, G.

publication date

  • January 2021