Quinoa Amino Acids

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By Nicholle C. | Updated: Oct 14, 2021

Quinoa Amino Acids

As the building blocks of proteins, amino acids are present in many foods. While many people consider animal products to be the best sources of protein, they are not the only ones. Quinoa, for example, is a more balanced and complete source of amino acids than many other widely available foods.

What Are Amino Acids?

Amino acids are organic compounds that combine in specific sequences in order to form proteins. As the body digests protein, the amino acids are used to make new ones that will help to further break down food, repair tissue, contribute to growth, and perform other normal body functions.

There are 20 amino acids needed for the proper functioning of the human body, and they can be divided into three groups:

  • Essential amino acids. There are nine amino acids that the body cannot produce, so they need to be consumed though food: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.

  • Nonessential amino acids. These amino acids are produced by adults: alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, and tyrosine.

  • Conditionally essential amino acids. Arginine, cysteine, glutamine, glycine, proline, and serine are amino acids that are mainly needed in the body in times of illness and stress as well as during infancy.

Since it is a source of complete protein (that is, it contains all essential amino acids), quinoa is an ideal food for vegetarians and vegans that may be at risk of not consuming enough essential amino acids. It is also recommended for athletes in order to improve their performance.

Amino Acids in Quinoa

The well-balanced amino acid profile of quinoa allows not only for a greater concentration of protein, but also for very high quality protein content. 


In comparison with other grains, the amount of essential amino acids in quinoa is particularly high. However, other foods that are also considered abundant sources of amino acids and high-quality proteins are milk and spinach, although spinach does not contain tryptophan, and milk lacks histidine, isoleucine, leucine, and valine. In that way, quinoa is a more complete source of amino acids than many other foods.

Quinoa's Lysine Content

Quinoa is particularly rich in one essential amino acid, lysine, which is instrumental for many body functions. 


The lysine in quinoa is not only crucial for growth, but also for the production of carnitine, a nutrient responsible for transforming fatty acids into energy. It also contributes to the absorption of calcium and the synthesis of collagen, necessary for the health of bones, skin, tendons, and cartilage.

The best way to make the most out of the amino acids in quinoa, especially lysine, is by eating raw quinoa. The uncooked quinoa seeds, soaked and sprouted, will provide the nutrients the body needs.

Amino acids play very important roles in energy production and cellular regeneration. Considering that not all of them can be manufactured in the body, quinoa's amino acid content offers an excellent nutritional value, making this popular Andean seed a great addition to a healthy diet.


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  • MedlinePlus Herbs and Supplements, Amino acids
  • University of Maryland Medical Center, Lysine


  1. Medline Plus. (2019). Amino acids. Retrieved October 9, 2021 from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002222.htm