BCAA? Long Life Secrets Part 2

Part 1 of Long Life Secrets can be found here.

I’ve long advocated that BCAA can be beneficial in long workouts.  The downside is they are expensive and they taste like crap.

In a study from the University of Milan in Italy, they demonstrated how amino acids, specifically Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine, given to middle-aged male healthy mice lived 12% longer than non-supplemented mice. (869 days compared with 774 days)

Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine represent 3 out of the 8 essential amino acids.  For more information on Amino Acids, see this past article.

What the heck is Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine?

Lysine research suggests that this amino acid may positively impact inflammation and strengthen bones and joints, among other benefits.  There’s no hard medical proof that lysine will prevent osteoporosis, but it’s a factor.

Leucine is a BCAA that helps to regulate blood sugar and grow and repair muscle tissue. Leucine helps muscles recover from injury, trauma and microtears was well as preventing muscle catabolism.

Isoleucine is a BCAA involved in blood clotting and the formation of hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen.  Isoleucine assists with regulating blood sugar and energy levels in the body. 

Regarding regulating blood sugar, Insulin, as well as EPO, are two of the hidden secrets sprinters use to gain the extra illegal advantage.  So if you can take a legal amino acid supplement, why not?

But before we all rush out and buy BCAA, I have to remind you that the human body is a complex metabolic pathway which is different than mice (at least the last time I checked).  More research is needed.  But if BCAA do help you in your long workouts, it might be difficult to pinpoint what worked and what didn’t work to the other 99 things you are taking and doing.

Here is the link to the research study:

In laboratory experiments, middle-aged male healthy mice were given drinking water laced with three specific amino acids.

The animals lived significantly longer than other mice fed a normal diet.

Their lifespan range had a midpoint of 869 days compared with 774 days for untreated mice, a difference of 12 per cent.

Longer survival was accompanied by biological changes which boosted the energy supply to cells and reduced oxidative damage caused by destructive molecules called free radicals.

The treated mice had more stamina and improved muscle co-ordination.

"This is the first demonstration that an amino acid mixture can increase survival in mice," said study leader Dr Enzo Nisoli, from the University of Milan in Italy.

Last year scientists showed that the same amino acids, leucine, isoleucine and valine, could extend the lifespan of single-celled yeast.

The new findings, reported in the journal Cell Metabolism, raise the possibility of amino acid supplements benefiting humans.

The scientists pointed out that the mice studied were aged but otherwise healthy.

They believe taking the amino acids might be especially helpful for the elderly or ill, particularly people with heart failure, chronic lung disease, or other conditions characterised by flagging energy levels.

Dr Nisoli said a large patient trial was needed to provide evidence convincing enough for doctors. However, there was little financial incentive for companies to conduct such studies on dietary supplements.

Leucine, isoleucine and valine, known as branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), account for a fraction of the 20 amino acids from which proteins are made, but appear to have special anti-ageing properties.

Mice given the three amino acids produced larger numbers of mitochondria – the rod-like "powerhouses" in cells that generate energy – in their heart and skeletal muscle.

They also showed increased activity of SIRT1, a well-known longevity gene, and developed better defenses against free radicals.

BCAA nutritional supplements are readily available in health food stores and online.

Amino acid supplements were likely to be more effective than consuming proteins containing the same amino acids, according to the researchers.

Unlike protein, they did not have to be digested, and could enter the bloodstream immediately.

"They come with no energy cost," said Dr Nisoli.

In their paper the scientists wrote: "We have provided evidence that an original BCAA mixture increases average life span in male mice.

"This was likely the consequence of increased mitochondrial biogenesis and reduced oxidative stress in cardiac and skeletal muscles.

Our study offers a rationale for deeply exploring the role of amino acids in prevention and control of age-related disorders in humans."

Jimson Lee

Jimson Lee

Coach & Founder at SpeedEndurance.com
I am a Masters Athlete and Coach currently based in London UK. My other projects include the Bud Winter Foundation, writer for the IAAF New Studies in Athletics Journal (NSA) and a member of the Track & Field Writers of America.
Jimson Lee
Jimson Lee
Jimson Lee