Valine is an essential amino acid, meaning the body cannot produce it and must therefore be provided by the diet. Valine is also one of the three branched chain amino acids (BCAA) that are unique in that they are not metabolized by the liver. Valine is needed for the synthesis of proteins and is also used as energy fuel.
Valine deficiency can cause many physical and mental side effects such as low muscle tone (hypotonia), hyperkinesia, hyperactivity, excessive drowsiness and delayed mental and physical development. Low levels of valine may also cause a deterioration in one’s mental health, and insomnia. In other words, low levels often indicate symptoms of psychological and physiological depression.
That being said, excessive amounts of this amino acid can also be harmful. Extreme amounts of valine supplements have been linked to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach bloating, fatigue and loss of coordination. Moreover, excessive valine levels may also cause high concentrations of toxic ammonia in the body along with decreased liver and kidney function. Valinemia is a rare metabolic disorder characterized by exceedingly high levels of this amino acid in the urine and blood. This condition can lead to serious secondary effects such as: lack of appetite, nausea and vomiting.
As previously mentioned, the human body cannot create valine, which is why it must be obtained from our diet. Thankfully, valine is not difficult to consume as it can be found in a large quantity of foods. Dairy products are high in valine, especially cottage cheese and yogurt. Valine can also be found in fermented soy products, like natto and tempeh and in eggs, red meat, turkey, chicken and fish. Many seeds, nuts, legumes and wholegrains also contain high amounts of valine. This includes sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, pistachios, cashews, almonds, beans, chickpeas, lentils, mushrooms, quinoa and brown rice.
Valine helps supply the muscles with glucose for energy production during intense physical activity. It is also involved in nitrogen transport into the muscles which allows more oxygen and nutrients to be delivered for extended performance. A good balance is required because too high levels of valine are known to increase the amount of ammonia in the body and disrupt liver and kidney function.
In conclusion, our valine levels impact many aspects of our mental and physical health. In order to make sure that your valine levels are balanced and steady, make sure to test your levels and to evaluate how you can make the right changes to rebalance your body and mind.