Maybe you’ve heard of amino acids before. They serve as the foundation of life, power proper cellular metabolism—and are the building blocks for all proteins. In fact, the chemical properties of the amino acids of proteins determine the biological activity of the protein. That's right. Amino acids are that important.
How you make or get them is important, too. Humans produce a number of amino acids, but the others must come from our diet. And get this. . . if you’re missing just one of those essential amino acids—the ones we can’t make—the body will take protein from other areas, including muscles, to obtain the one amino acid or more that are needed. Additionally, amino acids are not like fats and starches that can be stored for later use; they must be supplied daily by the diet.
Three of those essential amino acids are called branched-chain amino acids, or BCAAs, and go by the names leucine, isoleucine and valine—and they make up approximately one-third of the skeletal muscles in the body. They’re pretty important. In fact, athletes and fitness enthusiasts have used BCAAs to boost muscle strength and performance for years.† The body requires them and can even break down muscle to get these BCAAs. However, if you supply them regularly, particularly during or after a workout, then the muscles and other tissues aren’t broken down.
So, let’s take a closer look at these BCAAs—leucine, isoleucine and valine—starting with leucine. Leucine helps to support healthy blood sugar levels and is helpful for growth hormone production.† Leucine works with isoleucine and valine to protect muscles and to fuel the body, supporting bone, skin and muscle tissue health.† Some food sources of leucine include brown rice, nuts, peas, beans and meat—all organic, of course.
Isoleucine supports blood sugar and energy levels and is required for hemoglobin formation.†Together with leucine and valine, isoleucine boosts energy, endurance and supports the health and repair of muscle tissue.† Studies point to these BCAAs decreasing normal tissue breakdown that occurs overnight in healthy people by 50 percent and sparing marathoners and cross-country runners that tissue breakdown when given a daily dose of them.† You can find isoleucine in chicken, eggs, fish, meat, peas, almonds, cashews, chickpeas, lentils and most seeds—again, all organic.
Last but not least is valine. It, too, supports healthy muscle metabolism, tissue repair and maintaining proper nitrogen balance in the body.† It may also be helpful in supporting a healthy liver and gallbladder.† Valine can be found in mushrooms, peanuts, meat, dairy products and peas—all organic as well.
That’s not all about these BCAAs, though. A study reported in Cell Metabolism stated that these amino acids’ mixture increased survival of and lifespans of test animals—mice—by producing larger numbers of mitochondria, which are the powerhouses in cells that generate energy in the heart and in skeletal muscles. They also showed increased activity of SIRT1, a well-known longevity gene, and were able to fight off free radicals better.†
Study leader, Dr. Enzo Nisoli, and his research team say that these amino acid supplements, unlike other food proteins, didn’t have to be processed by the liver and could enter the bloodstream immediately to be used directly by the working muscles, making them likely to be more effective.† Dr. Nisoli says, “They come with no energy cost.”
Perhaps it’s time to take more notice of these muscles essentials—amino acids, including BCAAs.
†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.