<amino acid>

<biochemistry> An essential amino acid. Valine is found in abundant quantities in most food. Valine has a stimulant effect. Healthy growth depends on it. A deficiency results in a negative hydrogen balance in the body. Valine is used by bodybuilders, in conjunction with leucine and isoleucine, for muscle growth, tissue repair and as an energizer. There is little scientific evidence to support these claims, though studies have shown that these three substances might be able to help restore muscle mass in people with liver disease, injuries or who have undergone surgery, but no studies have shown them to be effective for healthy people. Because valine cannot be produced by the body, healthy people should ensure that they are obtaining at least the recommended amount in their diet. Valine can be metabolised to produce energy, which spares glucose. A deficiency may affect the myelin covering of the nerves. Recent studies indicate that valine, as well as leucine and isoleucine, may be effective in treating or reversing hepatic encephalopathy or alcohol related brain damage. It may also be useful in degenerative neurological conditions. Main food sources of valine are soy flour, raw brown rice, cottage cheese, fish, beef, lamb, chicken, almonds, brazil nuts cashews, peanuts, sesame seed, lentils, chickpeas and mushrooms.

(22 May 1997)

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