This article throws light upon the three applications of amino acids. The three applications are: (1) Food Industry Application (2) Pharmaceutical Industry Application (3) Chemical Industry Application.
The individual L-amino acids (except glycine) along with their production methods and uses are given in Table 26.1. The applications are broadly discussed hereunder.
Application # 1. Food Industry:
Amino acids are used either alone or in combination, as flavour enhancers. Monosodium glutamate is the most frequently used in food industry. Glycine and alanine also enhance taste and flavour. Tryptophan, in association with histidine, acts as an antioxidant to preserve milk powder. For the preservation of fruit juices, cysteine serves as an antioxidant.
Aspartame, a dipeptide (aspartyl-phenylalanine methyl ester) produced by a combination of aspartic acid and phenylalanine, is about 200 times sweeter than sucrose. It is used as a low-calorie artificial sweetener in soft-drink industry.
There are certain essential amino acids that are deficient or limiting in plant proteins. These include lysine, methionine, threonine and tryptophan. Addition of the deficient amino acid(s) improves the nutritional quality of human foods as well as animal feeds. Thus, bread enriched with lysine, soy products supplemented with methionine are of better nutritional value. Methionine added soy bean meal is a better feed for pigs and other animals.
Application # 2. Pharmaceutical Industry:
The amino acids can be used as medicines. Essential amino acids are useful as ingredients of infusion fluids, for administration to patients in post-operative treatment.
Application # 3. Chemical Industry:
Amino acids serve as starting materials for producing several compounds. Glycine is used as a precursor for the synthesis of glyphosate (a herbicide), while threonine is the starting material for the production of azthreonam (another herbicide). Poly-methyl glutamate is utilised for manufacturing synthetic leather. Some amino acids in the form of N-acyl derivatives are useful for the preparation of cosmetics.