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Branched-Chain Amino Acids - First Supplement Usage

Updated on February 26, 2014

<< Part 1 - What Are They? <<

Now that you have a better understanding of what branched-chain amino acids are you might be wondering how they were discovered.

It’s always interesting to see how supplements get their start.

Let’s take a look at the history of these three very special amino acids.

The History of Branched-Chain Amino Acids

The first of the three branched-chain amino acids, leucine, was discovered all the way back in 1818 by Joseph L. Proust in putrefying cheese. Sounds tasty doesn’t it?

Two years later, Henri Braconnot discovered leucine for himself while decomposing meat with sulphuric acid. In fact, Braconnot gave leucine its name because of its sparkling white appearance.

Then in 1901 the second BCCA, valine, was discovered by a German scientist named Emil Fischer. He discovered it by hydrolyzing milk protein called casein.

About three years later the last branched-chain amino acid was discovered: isoleucine. It was first isolated from fibrin; a protein that takes part in blood clotting.

Throughout the years scientists started noticing how essential these amino acids really were in order for our bodies to function properly. If your body’s low in BCAAs then you could experience things like:

  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Deterioration of Muscle Function
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Skin Hypersensitivity

So it was starting to become well known that in order to live a healthy, comfortable life we needed to be sure that we were consuming branched-chain amino acids.

Whenever research finds that certain nutrients are needed in order to hold onto muscle bodybuilders usually catch wind of it; they’ll do anything to hold onto their massive amounts of muscle.

Bodybuilders have been supplementing with branched-chain amino acids for a long time. People were even supplementing with BCAAs back when Arnold was in his prime, and for good reason.

It has actually been found that one BCAA stands out above the rest; this shining star is leucine. It’s been found that it’s almost entirely responsible for protein synthesis. So it looks like leucine has most of the control over your muscle building efforts.

This doesn’t mean that the other two branched-chain amino acids aren’t important, but leucine is definitely the leader of the pack.

Valine helps keep nitrogen balanced in your body and also aids in muscle repair and growth. Isoleucine is needed for energy production and also aids in muscle repair. So don’t forget these two!

Now a days you can find branched-chain amino acids in a variety of different supplements. You can find them mixed in with other supplements, as pure BCAAs or even sometimes as individual amino acids. So if you’re not getting enough leucine, isoleucine or valine from your diet then you have many different supplemental options to choose from.

Although I’ve already slightly dipped into the subject, let’s look at the variety of different benefits you can attain from branched-chain amino acids. Just in case you need a little more convincing.

>> Continue Reading Part 3 - Why Should You Take Them? >>

When Did YOU Start Taking BCAAs?

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    • Bendo13 profile image

      Ben Guinter 6 years ago from Colorado Springs, Colorado

      I appreciate that, Sam... but yeah, sometimes I do get carried away ;)

      I think L-arginine is a great supplement! In fact, if you're up for some more reading then check this out:

      Similar layout, with all the goodness!

    • profile image

      Sam 6 years ago

      Quite accurate information, Most of the points were explained rationally with great depth. The overall style of your writing was interesting. Although at some points too many words were used, meaning it could have been made briefer. All in all GREAT EFFORT.

      What is your opinion on L-arginine as supplement for weight training???

    • Bendo13 profile image

      Ben Guinter 6 years ago from Colorado Springs, Colorado

      My pleasure Hello, hello,!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 8 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for this good lesson.