May 21, 2012
166 Branched Chain Amino Acids [21 May 2012]
Last week we looked at amino acids as the building blocks (think Lego) of protein, and learned that nine are considered “essential”. Three of these form a special class – the branched chain amino acids (BCAA): leucine, isoleucine and valine. Their name comes from the shape of the molecule having a branched rather than linear form.
The BCAAs are the only amino acids that can be metabolized directly in muscle tissue; all the others require processing by the liver. This gives the BCAAs special nutritional properties in two rather different areas. For athletes, BCAA supplementation:
• increases muscle growth
• improves endurance
• speeds recovery from muscle damage due to intense training.
For the ill or elderly, BCAA supplementation can be used to:
• prevent muscle loss in elderly or ill (cancer, ALS) people with loss of appetite, without stressing the liver or kidneys
• maintain and rebuild muscle in people recovering from anorexia nervosa
• enhance healing of injuries including burns
• prevent muscle loss from prolonged fasting (e.g. the Master Cleanse).
Branched chain amino acids are available as a supplement in powder or capsule form. Research shows that L-Leucine is the most important of the three for protein synthesis and muscle building. Consumerlab.com reports no toxicity with BCAA supplementation.
For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.