A new study released last month reveals the many benefits of Leucine dietary supplementation. These benefits include the findings of increasing evidence that branched chain amino acids and specifically leucine have unique roles in metabolic regulation, maintenance of glucose homeostasis and translational regulation of muscle protein synthesis through insulin signaling.
According to the study,“leucine supplementation has been suggested to develop muscle mass or prevent protein loss in several conditions characterized by muscle protein wasting”. This is true because as a dietary supplement it has been found to slow the degradation of muscle tissue by increasing the synthesis of muscle proteins, this encourages the body to maintain normal muscle tone and also increases your ability to regulate blood sugar levels.
Leucine is an essential amino acid that is not manufactured in the body. This requires that we use dietary supplementation in order to maintain healthy leucine levels in the blood stream. Leucine is part of the three branched chain amino acids which consist of leucine, isoleucine and valine. The combination of these three amino acids constitutes approximately 1/3 of the skeletal muscle in the human body.
The food sources richest in leucine levels are protein sources. These sources are; beef, fish, chicken, mature seeds, lentils, peanuts and soy beans. All of the seeds, nuts and bean sources are richest in leucine levels while still in their raw state.
Leucine is important for not only the growth and repair of muscle tissue but also for growth hormone production as well as wound healing and energy regulation. Deficiencies of this nutrient are rare, vegans and vegetarians with out an adequate intake of protein from the sources listed above may suffer from a deficiency.
The recommended daily dosage of leucine is 8mg per 1 pound of body weight, per day. This translates to 1,120 mg per day for a male who weights approximately 140 lbs.
There has been no evidence of toxicity linked to leucine dietary supplementation. A high intake of leucine can contribute to a rare vitamin deficiency disease known as Pellagra which is most commonly caused by a chronic lack of Niacin (vitamin B3) in the diet. High intakes of Leucine dietary supplementation can decrease the amount of niacin in the body.
The conclusion of the study suggest “application of these metabolic roles of the BCAA in development of weight management programs will enhance changes in body composition with sparing of lean body mass and will enhance glucose and insulin homeostasis by stabilizing fasting and postprandial levels of blood glucose”.