Amino acids are organic compounds found in every cell that build proteins necessary for human life. Combinations of amino acids join to form short chains of peptides or longer chains of proteins. The process by which amino acids become protein is called translation and occurs when amino acids are added to a protein chain by ribosomes. The order of these amino acid additions to the protein chain is read through through the RNA copy of a person's genes.

They can be broken down into three types: non-essential amino acids are produced by the body, essential amino acids are obtained through food, and conditional amino acids that are only needed in times of illness and stress.