It doesn’t take a neurosurgeon to understand that the brain is a complicated organ, full of mystery, even today. Every year, researchers discover new truths about how our brains work, and among the discoveries of decades past is information on the roles of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) in our cognitive function. Though they’re perhaps best known for their use in amino acid supplements that can improve the results of exercise, BCAAs also serve some important purposes in the brain; some of these relate to athletic performance, while others are crucial for every human being on the planet. So, if you’ve ever wondered, “Are BCAAs good for brain function?” keep reading as the experts at aminoVITAL®, makers of potent BCAA supplements for athletes, discuss this topic at length.
The Basic Roles of BCAAs in Brain Functions
Although the brain is often envisioned as a collection of cells communicating with one another through bursts of electricity, the reality is that the brain is largely powered by chemical impulses that relay messages from one neuron to another. This process relies on a wide array of compounds, including amino acids and the proteins they’re sometimes used to create, and somewhere in this hectic mix of molecules are the three BCAAs – leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
As with virtually every compound in the body, the BCAAs are used for a number of different purposes in a variety of systems, and the brain is no exception. In fact, two of the most common – and most important – neurotransmitters rely on BCAAs for their creation; these are glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid, also called GABA1.
The first of these BCAA-related compounds, glutamate, is what’s known as an excitatory neurotransmitter, meaning that it activates nerve cells and readies them to receive information. Given this function, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that glutamate is a critical part of learning and memory2. GABA, on the other hand, functions in the brain as an inhibitory neurotransmitter, meaning that it limits the effects of neurotransmitters like glutamate, helping to keep neurons from becoming too excited. For this reason, GABA is believed to help people stay calm, and it’s sometimes taken in supplement form to help with anxiety, though there is little to no scientific support for the effectiveness of these products.
Research into Using BCAAs to Improve Brain Health and Functions
Aside from their basic role in producing key neurotransmitters, BCAAs have also been the subject of considerable and promising research into treatments for certain conditions, such as epilepsy, caused by abnormal brain function. In fact, a number of studies have shown that these amino acids can often help to reduce the frequency and severity of seizures in those with drug-resistant epilepsy, as one 2019 review found; however, further examination has shown that BCAAs may actually be detrimental to those with epilepsy if used for a long period of time, so additional research is necessary.
Meanwhile, studies are being conducted into whether BCAAs can help the brain functions of those who have suffered a traumatic brain injury. One study found that adding BCAAs to the diet of mice that had suffered a concussive brain injury led to a marked cognitive recovery, but, again, this study looked at mice; while the results certainly seem promising, research into this use of BCAAs to improve brain functions is still ongoing.
How BCAAs Help Brain Functions During Exercise
From a more practical standpoint, BCAAs seem to have a notable positive effect on the brain functions of those in the midst of an exercise routine. Anyone who has put themselves through a tough workout is familiar with the way fatigue can set in over time, significantly affecting a person’s physical and mental fortitude and making it more difficult to maintain peak performance. However, this loss of energy and focus can be ameliorated by simply adding a mid-workout BCAA supplement to your routine, and here’s how:
The cause of this fatigue, which is sometimes called central nervous system fatigue5 – or just “central fatigue” – is believed to be the buildup of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which occurs because more of a particular amino acid, tryptophan, is allowed to enter the brain. Under normal circumstances, BCAAs limit the movement of tryptophan by blocking some of its access at the blood-brain barrier, but when you work out, your muscles soak up much of the BCAAs in your bloodstream, leaving less to compete with tryptophan for entry into the brain.
By adding a product like aminoVITAL®’s Action intra-workout mix to your routine, you can provide your body with a dose of fast-acting BCAAs that can restore the balance of amino acids in your blood and prevent a surge of tryptophan into the brain, stopping the onset of central fatigue and helping you maintain the intensity of your exercise routine all the way through to the end; try a BCAA supplement for yourself and experience the difference first-hand.
Try a Lean, Fast-Acting BCAA Supplement for Better Brain Function as You Exercise
While the BCAA supplements from aminoVITAL® are not intended for use as a medical treatment, there’s little doubt that BCAAs are essential to keeping the brain healthy, and their ability to boost gains, improve endurance, and speed up your post-workout recovery after exercise can help you reach your fitness goals that much sooner. To learn more about adding a low-calorie amino acid supplement to your workout stack or exercise routine, visit aminoVITAL® online or call us today at (888) 264-6673.