Leucine : One of the branched­chain amino acids essential essential for growth, stimulates the production of muscle tissue, and protects the liver from the damaging affects of alcohol.

Leucine is an essential amino acid and one of the branched­chain amino acids (the others are isoleucine and valine). These work together to protect muscle and act as fuel. They promote the healing of bones, skin, and muscle tissue, and are recommended for those recovering from surgery. Leucine also lowers elevated blood sugar levels and aids in increasing growth hormone production.

Leucine, like its cousins isoleucine and valine, is a hydrophobic amino acid that is found as a structural element on the interior of proteins and enzymes. There appears to be no other significant metabolic role for these amino acids, but they are essential and because they are not synthesized by mammalian tissues, must be taken in the diet. Leucine ties glycine for the position of second most common amino acid found in proteins with a concentration of 7.5 percent on a molar basis compared to the other amino acids.

Function and Benefits of Leucine

  • Leucine is essential in regulating blood glucose level as well as in the growth and repair of bones, skin and muscles.
  • Leucine also prevents the break down of muscle proteins which occurs during trauma, stress of severe kind, during starvation or recovery from surgery.
  • Patients suffering from phenylketonuria can take leucine which has been found beneficial to them.
  • It also results in production of growth hormones and it also burns visceral fats which are located in the deeper layers of the body and are least responsive to dieting and exercises.
  • During times of starvation, stress, infection, or recovery from trauma, the body mobilizes leucine as a source for gluconeogenesis (the synthesis of blood sugar in the liver) to aid in the healing process.

Deficiency Symptoms of   Leucine

  • Deficiency of this nutrient is rare, since all protein foods contain it.
  • Hypoglycemia symptoms may appear if the diet is deficient and may include dizziness, fatigue, headaches, irritability, etc.

Rich Food Sources of Leucine

  • Animal sources: Meat, chicken, poultry, fish, sea foods, dairy products like cottage cheese etc
  • Plant sources: Whole lentils, brown rice, nuts, soy flour, whole wheat, beans, sesame seeds , peanuts and leafy greens.
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