Asparagine is an amino acid.
The molecular formula of asparagine is C4H8N2O3
Amino acids generally are explained further in the column on the rightin further detail below. Briefly, there are two types of amino acid:
- Those that can be synthesized by the body itself (non-essential amino acids), and
- those that, although necessary for the healthy growth or maintenance of the body, cannot be produced by the body itself.
This second type of amino acids are called essential amino acids, and are also referred to as indispensible amino acids in some textbooks.
Asparagine is a "non-essential" or "dispensible" amino acid because, although its presence in an appropriate quantity is important for good health, the human body can produce this chemical from an excess of certain other amino acids in the body. Therefore it is not essential as a part of the diet.
It was the first amino acid to be discovered (in 1806), and was discovered in asparagus in which it occurs in high concentration.
For further information about amino acids in general, see Amino Acids.