Are BCAAs Good for Your Brain?
- by amino VITAL
Considering how complex the human body is, it’s easy to see why questions abound regarding the benefits of various substances and the supplements that offer them. Of course, this widespread confusion isn’t helped by the wide array of claims made by the many “health” supplements on the market; whether it’s that some herb you’ve never heard of can make you smarter or that some chemical compound can reduce your weight, these claims tend to be questionable at best, especially given the lack of sound scientific evidence to back them up. BCAAs, on the other hand, benefit from a wealth of evidence establishing their effects, and as experts in the field, the team at aminoVITAL® is more than happy to discuss the claims surrounding BCAA supplements. One question often asked: “Are BCAAs good for your brain?” Keep reading to find out.
What Roles Do BCAAs Play in the Brain?
Like most substances in the body, branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are involved in a number of different processes, including – in this case – those that take place in the brain. This makes BCAAs an essential part of proper cognitive functioning, and although they’re primarily used to aid muscle performance during and after exercise, their neurological benefits should not be overlooked. Below, we’ll cover some of the ways that BCAAs are good for your brain.
BCAAs Are Used to Make Neurotransmitters
Inside your brain, at the cellular level, there are tiny chemical messengers called neurotransmitters that are responsible for relaying signals from one brain cell to another. While some of these substances consist of only a single amino acid, others are proteins made from several amino acids; regardless of the type, the fact to note is that amino acids are crucial to the functions of the brain.
The BCAAs, in particular, are necessary to create two neurotransmitters: glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), two of the most abundant (and important) chemicals in the brain1. Without adequate amounts of BCAAs in the body, the levels of these critical compounds – and the neurological functions they facilitate – could be affected, so getting enough BCAAs in your diet is not only good for your brain, it’s essential.
BCAAs May Aid in Treating Epilepsy
Although the research on this use of BCAAs is still very much ongoing, there is evidence to suggest that these amino acids can help those suffering from epilepsy that has proven difficult to treat through other means. As the authors of one review2 of the evidence noted, short-term treatment with BCAAs tends to produce “potent anti-seizure effects.” In the long term, however, consistent supplementation with BCAAs showed the opposite effect, leading the authors of the review to call for additional research and hopefully determine whether BCAAs are good for your brain if you have epilepsy.
BCAAs May Help Treat Traumatic Brain Injuries
In addition to their possible positive effects on those who experience seizures, BCAAs may be good for your brain if you’ve recently had a traumatic brain injury (TBI). A study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) looked at mice that had concussive brain injuries and found that they were all lacking in BCAAs; after adding these amino acids to the mice’s diets, researchers found that they showed significant improvement in their cognitive functions, ultimately concluding that dietary BCAAs may help with restoring brain activity in those with TBIs.
How BCAAs Help Your Brain During Exercise
One of the biggest benefits of BCAAs during exercise relates to another role they play in regulating brain chemistry – not because of what they do in the brain, but because of what they prevent from happening.
Normally, the BCAAs help to limit the flow of another amino acid, tryptophan, into the brain. This effect serves to regulate the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter thought to cause central nervous system fatigue, among other things. However, one of the effects of working out is a loss of BCAAs in the bloodstream because, as you exercise, your muscles need additional amino acids, and especially BCAAs, to fuel their efforts, create new muscle tissue, and protect existing muscle cells from breaking down under the strain of your workout. This causes the BCAAs in your blood to be drawn into the muscles and allows tryptophan to enter the brain in greater amounts, where it becomes serotonin and contributes to fatigue.
Thankfully, restoring the balance of amino acids in your bloodstream is simple; all it takes is a fast-acting intra-workout BCAA supplement. By using a product like aminoVITAL®’s Action mid-workout mix, you can quickly and easily restore competition at the blood-brain barrier, preventing too much tryptophan from going where it shouldn’t and warding off fatigue4 before it starts. The result: improved focus and concentration during even the most exhausting workouts, thanks to BCAAs that are good for your brain and muscles.
Try BCAA Supplements for Better Focus and Improved Performance During Exercise
While the functions of BCAAs in the brain are important, these amino acids truly shine when used to amplify the results of exercise. Not only do these compounds help to fight fatigue, but they can also boost gains, improve endurance, reduce soreness, and restore energy levels after exercise. If you work out regularly, try an aminoVITAL® pre-, mid-, or post-workout BCAA supplement today and see the difference for yourself. To learn more about these potent products, visit aminoVITAL® online or call us today at (888) 264-6673.