Category Archives: Leucine

Leucine Supplements Repair Heart Damage In Third Degree Burn Patients

An animal study investigated the effects of administering the amino acid leucine in reversing the heart damage caused by third degree (full thickness) burns.

Serious burns affect the heart as well as the skin. Burns range from superficial–first degree burns–to fourth degree burns. First degree burns heal very well over about ten days, but fourth degree can lead to amputation and death. Third degree burns, or full thickness burns, extend right through the skin. These burns can also lead to amputation.

These serious burns affect the cardiovascular system, too. Burns affect the heart’s ability to produce vital proteins, which it needs in order to pump effectively.

Most burns are caused by fire and hot liquids. These are known as thermal burns, and include scalding. Scalding is caused by hot liquids or gases. Thermal burns are common injuries, particularly in children.

Researchers (CH Lang, N Deshpande, et al) from the Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, USA, developed an animal study into burn-induced heart injury and the amino acid leucine.

The researchers knew that leucine stimulates the initiation of protein in skeletal muscles. They hoped the leucine would also stimulate protein in cardiac muscles.

Leucine is an essential amino acid, which means we must get it from our food. It’s particularly important in promoting muscle growth.

Would leucine reverse the heart damage caused by third degree burns?

In the animal study, anaesthetized rats were given a 40% total body surface third degree scald burn. Some were given leucine after 24 hours. The leucine group was compared to a control group, and there was also a non-burn control group.

The hearts of the burned rats suffered damage. The necessary protein was not synthesized in their hearts. However, the hearts of the burn rats given leucine showed a reversal of this cardiac damage.

The study concluded that leucine supplementation could repair the heart defects caused by serious burn injuries.


EGGS: The Raw Food Anti-Aging Superfood with Amino Acids

Eggs for anti-aging? Wasn’t the last thing we heard that they had too much cholesterol and were bad for cardiovascular health? According to Dr. Mercola who wrote “Top 7 Food That Slow Your Aging” eggs are one of the superfoods, and he insists that there is no link between consuming eggs and heart disease, to boot. Why? There is a whole list of reasons… some of which include essential amino acids (like arginine, leucine, phenylalanine) and  that raw whole eggs contain.

First of all, says Dr. Mercola, they need to be raw, and organic. This means they also need to be as fresh as possible to reduce the risk of contamination or infection. Furthermore, a single egg contains 9 essential amino acids. This is a fantastic raw item for raw foodists.

Aside from the “highest quality protein you can put in your body,” and that proteins are necessary for building and maintaining your body tissues (skin, muscles, and internal organs), eggs are also important for your hormones and immune system.

Besides the 9 essential amino acids in raw, organic eggs, they include these health benefits:

Zeaxanthin, and Lutein (for your eyes)
Choline (for your brain, cardiovascular- and nervous systems)
Vitamin D

How to choose the best eggs – amino acids, nutrition, omega-3’s, and allergies

Dr. Mercola says that not do we need the 9 essential amino acids in eggs for their anti-aging effects, but we should eat them raw for maximum benefits.

Allergic reactions, he insists, are usually caused by changes in the eggs due to the cooking process. Raw eggs, such as how muscle-builders take in their morning protein shakes, help preserve the highly perishable nutrients that eggs contain.

Raw egg whites contain avidin, a glycoprotein that binds biotin (a B vitamin), which some believe may lead to biotin deficiency; however, although cooking the whites deactivates the avidin, although it also impairs the proteins in the egg. Realize that the yolks also have plenty of biotin, some of the highest found in nature, so if you eat the whole egg raw, you should not be deficient. Eating only the whites may ensure a biotin deficiency.

Avoid omega-3 eggs, says Dr. Mercola, because “they typically come from hens fed poor quality omega-3 fat sources that are already oxidized.”

Be sure to buy organic and TRUE free-range chicken eggs, and preferably locally produced eggs from a pasture farmer. Dr. Mercola suggests requesting them at your local health food store or do a search in your area by visiting or

Overall, the amino acids and other health supporting properties of local organic eggs, show many benefits to human health, especially when eaten whole and raw.


Amino Acids and Proteins – Dr Weil’s Diet Advice

Dr Weil’s diet advice has been becoming extremely popular. His book shows what you can eat, how the diet works, and what to avoid. It’s a simplified book on basic human nutrition, and tells how we get energy from the food we eat. 

Dr Weil’s diet book advice covers things like fiber and protein and amino acids (like leucine, phenylalanine, or carnitine) are discussed, as well as ethnic intolerances to certain foods. For instance, this famous MD recommends that we have at least 40 grams of fiber each day. This is easily achieved if you eat vegetables (beans in particular), fruits (especially berries), and whole grains.

Dr Weil says to avoid dairy products

Dr Weil’s diet advice also suggest that we avoid milk altogether, and only eat limited amounts of cheese or other dairy products. Many people are lactose intolerant, particularly if you are of African-American or Asian decent, since people of these ethnic background tend to have problems digesting dairy products (lactose intolerance is usually inherited).

Still others may yet be allergic to milk protein, even mildly, and may not even know it. Only a particular group of European decent have the adaptation to be able to tolerate dairy products. Even then, there are plenty of other—better—sources for protein, calcium, and amino acids in the diet.

Take calcium, as an example… Dr Weil’s diet includes wonderful non-dairy sources of calcium by eating things like sardines, leafy greens, various sea vegetables (dulse, nori, and kombu), broccoli, plus tofu, calcium-fortified orange juice, fortified soy milk, and sesame seeds are wonderful sources of this mineral.

Dr Weil’s diet advice doesn’t mention it, but ounce for ounce, raw unhulled sesame seeds contain more calcium than any other food on earth! Try liquefying them with water in a blender for a few minutes, add real maple syrup to taste, and then strain it through a fine-meshed 1-gal sized plastic paint strainer (yes, you read that right!), and wala! You have super-calcium sesame milk!

Dr Weil’s diet on amino acids and more

Proteins build and repair and even maintain the body, plus they can be converted to glucose, which the body needs for energy. This is where amino acids come in. Altogether there are 22 amino acids available to the human body, some of which the body makes, but others must be gotten from food.

If you eat too much protein it makes it harder on the digestive system and puts strain on the kidneys and liver. If you eat too little protein you risk malnutrition, infection susceptibility, and maybe even an early death, says Dr Weil’s diet information.

Other Dr Weil’s diet advice includes limiting carbohydrates (sources of glucose) to low-glycemic index varieties, such as sweet potatoes (rather than white potatoes), other vegetables, plus unrefined grains. Fats and oils should also be limited. The last note is that when implementing Dr Weil’s diet be sure to get an adequate amount of exercise.


4 Amino Acids: Natural Painkiller-Analgesic and Anti-Inflammatory

Amino acids, like L-isoleucine, may act as a natural painkiller. There are actually a number of amino acids that are involved, and a study was done regarding prostaglandin to see just how much of an analgesic (natural painkiller) and anti-inflammatory these really are.

In order to understand the study done on the amino acids and how they deal with inflammation and work as an analgesic, or natural painkiller, we must understand prostaglandin.

Prostaglandins are on-site lipid compounds work like Aspirin. They are enzymatically derived from fatty acids to serve important bodily functions. Prostaglandins work in a number of ways, but one of them is as a natural painkiller, or analgesic. Analgesics are usually drugs that help your body achieve analgesia (relief from pain).

When injured or ill, prostaglandins—from the 4 amino acids or otherwise—are not secreted from a gland, but are chemically made on-site and used specifically where needed. One of their purposes is to control inflammation.

Amino acids – natural painkiller and anti-inflammatory properties

According to a study done by E Ricciotti and GA FitzGerald on prostaglandins, they act as a natural painkiller and carry an anti-inflammatory response. They said, “prostaglandins may function in both the promotion and resolution of inflammation.” Amino acids can also have an anti-inflammatory response.

In a separate study, RN Saxena, VK Pendse, and NK Khanna “Orally administered L-isoleucine, DL-isoleucine and L-leucine exhibited anti-inflammatory activity in many test models of inflammation except formaldehyde-induced inflammation. L-beta-phenylalanine inhibited carrageenan-induced oedema only.”

However, it was L-isoleucine that exhibited a prolonged analgesic (natural painkiller) effect. In the meantime, DL-isoleucine had a short-lasting effect.

Luckily the amino acids caused no gastric ulceration or acute toxicity in the doses that effectively suppresses inflammation. Their final assessment on these natural painkiller amino acids were that the “anti-inflammatory activity seems to be related with interference with the action and/or synthesis of prostaglandins and deserves further intensive study.”


Exercise and Branched-chain Amino Acid (BCAA) Supplements Prevent Cardiac Atrophy

Cardiac atrophy–the wasting of the heart muscles–can lead to a variety of cardiovascular conditions. But supplementing with branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), along with a program of exercise, can restore the heart and promote circulation again.

Cardiac atrophy is usually caused by prolonged bed rest, though astronauts living in microgravity are affected by atrophy.  People with congenital heart disease may also develop cardiac atrophy.

This atrophy means the heart muscles are deteriorating. They shrink, and the heart loses volume. As the muscles waste, the heart loses strength, and blood pressure is affected. This weakens the entire cardiovascular system. The reduced blood pressure results in orthostatic hypotension, where the brain isn’t getting enough blood, often resulting in dizziness, lightheadedness, and even fainting. But can BCAA supplements help?

Prolonged bed rest therefore is not good for the heart. However, it is prescribed for several medical conditions, including some complications in pregnancy. Coma and stroke patients, too, often spend long periods supine. BCAA supplementation was tested in a study for cardiac atrophy.

TA Dorfman, BD Levine, et al, researchers at the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine, Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, USA, developed a study to examine the effects of exercise and nutritional supplementation of proteins and branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) on women with cardiac atrophy.

Healthy volunteers were recruited. Their heart volumes were measured, then they were subjected to 60 days of 6 degrees head-down tilt bed rest. They were divided into exercise and BCAA supplement groups, and a control group.

Does BCAA help prevent cardiac atrophy?

The control group all suffered cardiac atrophy due to the prolonged bed rest. Both left ventricular and right ventricular volumes in their hearts were decreased. The exercise group, who used a supine treadmill, had no atrophy. The protein and BCAA supplement group also saw no reduction in either left or right ventricular mass. However, with the group who received only BCAA supplementation, and no exercise, the heart did lose some volume.

In conclusion, exercise is absolutely vital to prevent cardiac atrophy in long-duration bed rest. BCAA supplements are beneficial, especially when combined with an exercise program.


Table of Amino Acid Abbreviations

Students and teachers come together with terms like “Amino acid abbreviations” – but scientists use these abbreviated forms to refer to the 20+ names of amino acids as well.

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and they can be gotten from food. Before we get into the amino acid abbreviations you may want to know that there are two main types of amino acids (with a few exceptions)…

Essential and Non-essential amino acids

Essential amino acids does not mean they are “essential” as in necessary… it simply means that they can only be gotten from the food you eat so must be included through diet or dietary supplementation. Protein foods like meats (beef, chicken, pork, etc.) and eggs, as well as fish, are excellent sources of amino acids. Many meat-eating Americans actually eat an overabundance of protein compared with what the human body requires, which can lead to acidity (which leads to disease), cardiovascular and other diseases.

Non-essential amino acids are those that your body can produce naturally. Occasionally, someone is born with a deficiency in their body’s ability to produce the amino acids necessary for proper functioning, leading to diseases or disorders where people have trouble breaking down certain amino acids. An example of the latter is Maple Syrup Urine Disorder (MSUD) which is what newborn babies are screened for soon after birth.

There are 22 different amino acids in all (some of them semi-essential), but about 20 of them are more common. Their names, 3-letter, and 1-letter amino acid abbreviations follow.

Table of amino acid abbreviations

Amino Acid












Aspartic acid






Glutamic acid













































Aspartic acid or Asparagine



Any amino acid



Termination codon


For more information on amino acid abbreviations or more detailed information on amino acids in general, please see other articles at the Amino Acid Information Center. There are also many excellent resources on the Internet or in encyclopedias.


Amino Acid Chart

Many people know that you can get all 22 amino acids from protein foods such as meats (beef, chicken, pork, lamb, etc.), fish, and even eggs, but some people do not know how many plant-based amino acids in food there are, let alone which ones for which kinds of foods; I will cover some of them here in chart form for easy use.

Below is a breakdown of some of the essential amino acids that are in a variety of vegetarian (non-meat, non-dairy, non-egg, and non-fish) or vegan sources of foods… these are plant-based amino acids. The term “essential” amino acid means that you can only get these kinds of amino acids in food since your body cannot make them on its own.

Amino acids in food from plant proteins

According to the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) an adult needs about 0.8 to 1.0 g protein/kg of body weight. You can calculate this by dividing your weight (in lbs) by 2.2. That is how many grams you need each day of protein.

When you eat protein foods the proteins break down to their basic units called amino acids. Amino acids in food then help build back proteins within the body, needed by muscles, organs, and the immune system. About 15-25% of your daily calories should be from protein foods. Too much protein can strain the liver and kidneys.

Uses of amino acids in food

Arginine is considered as a semi-essential, or “conditional” essential amino acid depending on the health status and what stage of development the individual is in.

Histidine is most important during infancy (utilized for proper development and growth). It is essential for both adults and babies.

Isoleucine is used for muscle production, as well as maintenance and recovery. This is especially important after you have worked out/exercised. It helps in hemoglobin (in red blood cells) formation, blood clotting, energy, and regulating blood sugar levels.

Leucine is used in tissue production, repair, and production of growth hormone. It helps prevent wasting of muscles and is useful in treating Parkinson’s disease.

Lysine is used for calcium absorption, nitrogen maintenance, bone development, hormone production, tissue repair, and antibody production.

Methionine is used as a “cleaner” of the body… it helps emulsify fats, aids in digestion, is an antioxidant (helps prevent cancer), prevents arterial plaque, and removes heavy metals.

Phenylalanine is a precursor for the amino acid tyrosine and signaling molecules such as dopamine, epinephrine (adrenaline), and norepinephrine (noradrenaline), as well as the skin pigment melanin. It helps with memory and learning, elevates moods, and aids in brain processes.

Threonine monitors proteins in the body that processes to maintain and recycle.

Tryptophan is utilized for the production of niacin, serotonin, plus helps in pain management, mood regulation, and aids sleep.

Valine is for the muscles in recovery, endurance, and energy, plus it balances levels of nitrogen. It is also used in treating alcohol-related brain damage.

Amino Acid Chart of Food Sources

AMINO   ACIDS –> Arginine Histidine Isoleucine Leucine Lysine Methionine Phenylalanine Threonine Tryptophan Valine
almonds x x x x x
amaranth x
apples x x x x x x
apricots x
asparagus x x
avocadoes x
bananas x x x
beans x x x x
beets x x x x
black beans x
brazil nuts x x
broccoli x
brussels sprouts x x x
buckwheat x x
carrots x x x x x
cantaloupe x x x x x
cauliflower x x x
cashews x x x
celery x x x
chickpeas x
chives x x
citrus fruits x
coconut x
collards x x
cucumbers x x x
dandelion   greens x x x
endive x
fennel x x
flax seed x x x
garlic x x
grapes x x
greens x
green  vegetables x x
hazelnuts x x
kale x
kidney beans x x
leeks x
legumes x
lentil x
lettuce x x
lima beans x
mushrooms x
nori (seaweed) x x
nutritional yeast x x
nuts x x
oats x
okra x
onion x
papayas x x
parsley x
parsnips x x
pears x x
peas x x
pecans x x
pine nuts x x
pomegranates x x x
potatoes x x x
pumpkin seeds x
rice x
seaweed x
sesame seeds x
snap beans
spinach x
spirulina x
squash x
sunflower   seeds x
tomatoes x x
turnip greens
turnips x

There are certain other amino acids in food that could, or even should, be added to this amino acid chart, but this is a good start for most common vegetables, nuts, legumes, and other plant foods.

Amino Acid Chart Reference

Health Benefits – Amino Acids

Amino acids provide certain health benefits to the human body. They are the building blocks of proteins and help the body’s metabolic functions. Of the 22 amino acids known to science, only 9 are considered to be essential to the human body, with some sources claiming the number is 10.

List of amino acids include Essential, Non-essential, and Conditionally Essential

To avoid amino acid deficiencies and to experience optimum health you must consume the essential amino acids since they cannot be produced by the body. Some medical professionals, like Naturopath Dr. Eliezer Ben-Joseph, who advises his patients and the public on alternative health matters through his Natural Solutions Radio show, suggest a list of 10 amino acids to include in your diet, which include: Arginine, Histidine, Methionine, Threonine, Valine, Isoleucine, Lysine, Phenylalanine, Tryptophan, and Leucine.

10 of the remaining 22 non-essential amino acids, which your body can manufacture on its own include Alanine, Asparagine, Aspartic Acid, Cysteine, Glutamine, Glutamic Acid, Glycine, Proline, Serine, and Tyrosine. Dr. Ben-Joseph suggests that if you are stressed or have a disease then these amino acids are “conditionally essential”: Arginine, Glycine, Cystine, Tyrosine, Proline, Glutamine, and Taurine.

Amino acids help build cells and repair tissues as well as create antibodies to ward off viruses and bacteria. Additionally, they help with enzymes and they body’s hormonal system. Dr. Ben-Joseph suggests these 8 amino acids provide these health benefits:

Tryptophan: is a natural relaxant, alleviates insomnia, and reduces anxiety/depression

Lysene: helps the body absorb calcium

Methionine: supplies sulfur to help hair, nails, and skin

Histidine: repairs tissue, good for digestion/ulcers, blood pressure, nerves, sexual function

Phenylalanine: aids the brain to produce Norepinephrine, which helps the brain and nerve cells

Valine: calms emotions, helps with mental vigor and coordination of the muscles

Leucine & Isoleucine: helps the body manufacture other necessary biochemical components

You can never be certain that you are getting enough of the aminoc acids that your body needs.  It may be a good idea to incorporate amino acid dietary supplements in your health regimen.  Each one serves a different function so it is important to ensure your body obtains the necessary nutrients.  As with anything else, be sure to check with your doctor before taking amino acid supplements or any dietary supplements.