Athletes and body builders have longed used branched chain amino acids to build muscle strength and size. Now exciting research published in Cell Metabolism in October 2010 shows that branched chain amino acids might increase life span by stimulating mitochondrial biogenesis or the development of new mitochondria.
One theory of aging is the Mitochondrial Decline Theory. Mitochondria are the power plants of our cells producing ATP that powers all physiological and chemical processes. Without ATP life ceases. So the more mitochondria we have the longer we can generate life-sustaining ATP.
There are three branched chain amino acids – leucine, isoleucine, and valine. They are essential nutrients meaning the body cannot make them, and therefore, we must obtain them through the diet.
The study published in Cell Metabolism found that mice consuming branched chain amino acids lived realized life spans 12% longer than the control mice. These mice also have increased levels of Sirt1, which is associated with increase longevity. Sirt1 is increased during calorie restriction and by resveratrol, a sirtuin activating compound (STAC). See “Resveratrol Anti Aging”.
Branched chain amino acids do more than facilitate mitochondrial biogenesis. They also combat the damaging effects of reactive oxygen species or free radicals that accelerate the aging process.
Mitochondrial biogenesis with branched chain amino acids is increased by exercise, which in and of itself is a stimulator of new mitochondrial development. Another supplement, pyrroloquinolone quinone (PQQ) also stimulate mittochondrial biogenesis. See “How to Increase Energy Levels“.
Where to Get Branched Chain Amino Acids
Branched chain amino acids are found in meat, dairy products, and legumes. They are key ingredients found in protein powder mixes, too.
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