The body needs 20 different amino acids to maintain good health and normal functioning. Nine of these amino acids, called the essential amino acids, must be obtained through food. A healthy body can manufacture the other 11 amino acids. Amino acids are compounds that combine to make proteins. When a person eats a food that contains protein, the digestive system breaks the protein down into amino acids. The body then combines the amino acids in various ways to carry out bodily functions.
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