The Amino Acids Section
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Valine is a branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) that works with the other two BCAAs, isoleucine and leucine, to promote normal growth, repair tissues, regulate blood sugar, and provide the body with energy. Valine helps stimulate the central nervous system, and is needed for proper mental functioning.
Valine helps prevent the breakdown of muscle by supplying the muscles with extra glucose for energy production during intense physical activity. Valine also helps remove potentially toxic excess nitrogen from the liver, and is able to transport nitrogen to other tissues in the body as needed. Valine may help treat liver and gallbladder disease, as well as damage to these organs caused by alcoholism and drug abuse. Valine may help treat or even reverse hepatic encephalopathy, or alcohol-related brain damage.
Valine is an essential amino acid, which means that it cannot be manufactured in the body and must be obtained through dietary sources. Natural sources of valine include meats, dairy products, mushrooms, peanuts, and soy protein. Although most people get enough valine from their diet, there have been recorded cases of valine deficiency. Maple syrup urine disease (MSUD) is caused by the inability to metabolize leucine, isoleucine, and valine. The disease is so named because urine from affected people smells like maple syrup. A deficiency of valine may also affect the myelin covering of the nerves, and cause degenerative neurological conditions.
People that exercise a lot, have a low-protein diet, or are seriously trying to build muscle mass should consider valine supplementation. Valine is available in stand-alone supplemental form, but should always be taken together with the other two branched-chain amino acids, isoleucine and leucine. The ideal balance is 2 milligrams of leucine and valine for each 1 milligram of isoleucine. Combination supplements that provide all three of the BCAAs may be more convenient.
An excessively high intake of valine may cause a skin crawling sensation and even hallucinations. Too much valine in the diet can also disrupt liver and kidney function and increase the amount of ammonia in the body. People with impaired liver or kidney function should not take isoleucine without first consulting a physician, as large doses of amino acids may aggravate these conditions.
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