The Role of Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s)

bcaaBranched chain amino acids are biochemical substances that are building blocks for all the proteins, and proteins in turn, are considered to be building blocks of our body. The body uses twenty one amino acids to form proteins, each having a specific structure, side chains and polarity.

Branched chain amino acids include valine, leucine and isoleucine. The name comes from the aliphatic side chains on the basic unit of the amino acids. These are essential amino acids meaning that our body cannot synthesize them and needs to acquire them from an external source. They help by keeping our bodies active and healthy which is why they are also used regularly by athletes and other physically active individuals.

Branched chain amino acids can be obtained by eating various food items like meat, legumes and dairy products. Dietary supplements are also available. These have recently come under spotlight a lot due to their effects not only on muscle, but brain function and immune function. They have an important roles to play in boosting our immune system.

They work by stimulating the growth of protein in our muscles and by reducing muscle breakdown. In the central nervous system, they help in fixing neurotransmission at neuron synapses. This is beneficial for proper functioning of our central nervous system (CNS).

There are many benefits of branched chain amino acid supplementation. It helps in building muscle mass which is useful for athletes. It can also benefit anyone who is interested in developing muscle mass or has a higher level of routine physical activity. The rate of muscle mass production relies on protein synthesis, which in is dependent on how abundant is the body’s supply of amino acids. So if you are on a workout regimen or in training, supplementing your diet with these amino acids can really boost the muscle bulk production as well as the muscle repair process.

The treatment of central nervous system (CNS) is another essential function.  Due to their regulatory effect on neurotransmission, they can aid in management of diseases like mania, anorexia and tardive dyskinesias (these are abnormal movements seen in people on antipsychotic medication). They can also be used to help with fatigue and tiredness. These amino acids have a role to play in improving concentration. It enhances mental function and keeps our brain alert and active.

Another essential advantage is that it aids in dieting. This is a catabolic state which if done in extreme forms will not only cause loss of fat but the muscle bulk is also compromised. This can prove to be detrimental to the body’s health rather than beneficial. So if you are on a strenuous dietary regime, supplements of branched chain amino acids will help prevent muscle loss and prevent the body from going in a starved state.

Maintaining muscle bulk is not only an issue in people who have high activity levels but those on the opposite extreme as well. Lack of muscle use also results in loss of tissue, which is called disuse atrophy. These amino acids also help by reducing muscle breakdown in people who are confined to bed due to old age, bone injuries, unconscious states or prolonged immobilization after surgeries.

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