Valine

Nonessential Micronutrient

OVERVIEW

Summary

Valine, an essential branched-chain amino acid (BCAA), is an energy source for muscles and helps repair tissues. A building block of protein (as are all amino acids), valine also plays a vital role in muscle building, immune-system function, and balancing natural levels of water and nitrogen.

Other names for Valine

L-valine

Where to find Valine

Valine can be found in dairy products, grains, meats, mushrooms, peanuts, and soy protein.

Popup: Foods highest in Valine

PERFORMANCE BENEFITS

Why athletes use Valine

Usually taken as part of a branched-chain amino acid formula or a quality protein powder, valine is needed to keep the body in balance for greater muscle growth and recovery.

Ways that Valine can enhance Muscle Gain & Recovery:
  • Support our bodies’ ability to build muscle as a building block of protein
Ways that Valine can enhance Energy & Endurance:
  • Supply exercising muscles with fuel, sparing other amino acids

HEALTH BENEFITS

Signs of Valine deficiency

Deficiency of Valine has been linked to:

  • Negative effects of antibiotic therapy
  • Maple syrup disease
Potential uses for Valine

Research indicates that Valine may also be useful in the treatment of:

  • Acne
  • Liver disorders
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Burns
  • Trauma

DISCUSSION

More about Valine

Valine is a unique essential amino acid in that it may act as a stimulant and is stored largely in muscle tissue, where it is used as an energy source when our muscles are in “working mode.” In fact, valine is one of the most important amino acids when it comes to muscle building and energy. If we don’t have it, we won’t “have it”! Simple as that.

The three branch-chain amino acids — valine, isoleucine, and leucine — account for one third of the protein in muscle tissue: a significant contribution. The best way to supplement valine, or any of the branched-chain essential amino acids, is in a balanced system. Valine, along with the other amino acids, also works to keep our bodies in balance, as far as the amount of water in our cells.

The importance of a positive nitrogen balance

Valine is perhaps best known for its effects as a balancing agent of our bodies’ nitrogen content. The nitrogen in our bodies is important for measuring adequate protein intake. A negative nitrogen balance means we may not be getting enough protein, resulting in the possible depletion of muscle tissue. A positive balance, on the other hand, means there may be growth in muscle mass. If we lack adequate valine, we increase the chances for an imbalance in this critical system.

Therapeutic uses

Valine’s been shown to aid in correcting deficiencies created by drug addictions and as a supplemental treatment for those addictions. You don’t, however, want to take excessive amounts as it could lead to the feeling that you’re on drugs, since large amounts may cause skin-crawling sensations and possibly hallucinations.

Recent research found that the three branch-chained amino acids together can reduce muscle wasting (at least slightly) even in people who are bed ridden.

In truth

If your muscles are faced with the challenges of intense training, when repair becomes a necessity (a good thing, since this is how our muscles grow), your amino acids may be depleted simply because your muscle tissues require more. Valine is a necessary fuel and building block for the proper functioning of many of our natural systems.

NOTES ON USAGE

Amount

More research is needed to determine exact amounts needed; however, 400 to 1,500 mg taken twice daily has been reported by athletes. Other athletes report they fulfill their valine needs with a quality whey protein or meal-replacement product.

Timing

Valine appears to be most effective when taken one half hour before training and then again immediately after. Many experts recommend taking valine as part of a branched-chain amino acid formula.

Synergists of Valine

Valine works with the other branched-chain amino acids, isoleucine and leucine, to make up about 35% of the amino acid content found in muscles. It’s important that these three amino acids be balanced. Thus, experts recommend supplementing with an equal amount of isoleucine and double the amount of leucine when supplementing with valine.

Safety of Valine

Excessive intakes of valine may create a feeling of “crawling skin” and may lead to hallucinations.

Toxicity of Valine

No known toxicity.

Bans and restrictions

None reported.

RELATED RESEARCH

  • Glass, A., et al., “Normal Valine Disposal in Obese Subjects with Impaired Glucose Disposal: Evidence for Selective Insulin Resistance,” Metab 30.6 (1981) : 578-82.
  • Meguid, M.M., et al., “Valine Kinetics at Graded Valine Intakes in Young Men,” Am J Clin Nutr 43.5 (1986) : 781-6.
  • Stein, T.P., “Branched-Chain Amino Acid Supplementation During Bed Rest: Effect on Recovery,” J Appl Physiol 94 (2003) : 1345-52.