What Are Amino Acids Made Of?

Amino acids are small chemical compounds that contain both an amino functional group and a carboxyl functional group. These compounds can be synthesized together to form proteins which the human body uses.

In total, there are roughly 50 amino acids that have been identified by chemists. Each amino acid begins with two carbon molecules that are bonded together through a single, covalent bond. One carbon is bound to the carboxyl group, while the other is bound to the amino group. A side functional group of various molecules and compounds is also bound to one of the carbons. The side group determines what type of amino acid the entire compound is.