Methionine is an essential amino acid.
The molecular formula of methionine is C5H11NO2S
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.
Methionine is one of those amino acids that are necessary and cannot be produced within the body. Therefore it is an essential amino acid, meaning that it is an essential part of a healthy diet.
Methionine is involved in the breakdown of fats and so helps to prevent the accumulation of fat in body tissues such as arteries and around the digestive system. It is an effective antioxidant because the sulphur present in methionine can de-activate free radicals. Methionine is also used by the body to produce a substance called creatine monohydrate - which is needed for energy production and muscle building.
For further information about amino acids in general, see Amino Acids.