Bodybuilding Supplement May Damage Your Brain

L-norvaline Found Capable of Causing Brain Damage

A study carried out by researchers in Australia suggests that people need to be more careful about using supplements to build muscles and improve performance.



The research, which appeared in the journal Toxicology in Vitro, shows that L-norvaline, an amino acid, could have unwanted effects on the brain. Scientists found that the compound may cause brain cells to become unhealthy and die eventually.

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L-norvaline is an ingredient in many supplements available on the market. It is often touted as a compound capable of enhancing the ability to do workouts. Claim also has it that it can boost recovery following workouts.

Scientists say that this ingredient is one of many presents in dietary supplements that are not ideal for the human body. In this study, even low concentrations of L-norvaline were found to be capable of doing damage.

According to research, compounds similar to this amino acid seem to have a connection to neurodegenerative diseases as well.

Increasing demand

An increasing number of people are using supplements to enhance their physiques and boost performance, going by observation. These products typically contain amino acids, which are the building blocks for proteins.

Protein is very important for muscle building. When people consume foods containing this macronutrient, its constituent amino acids are released into the gut. The body uses these compounds to form new proteins to promote muscle growth and deliver other benefits.

However, people who wish to build muscle and enhance performance often do not get sufficient amino acids in their diet. This makes such individuals turn to supplements.

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Professional bodybuilders and athletes are arguably the groups of people that consume the most amino acids for obvious reasons.

Researchers say that the rising demand for bodybuilding supplements seems to be contributing to a problem. Many of these products now feature amino acids that may not be suitable for the human body.

“Protein requirements are higher in very active individuals and proteins are considered to improve and increase performance,” said lead author Kate Samardzic, a Ph.D. candidate at the School of Life Sciences, University of Technology Sydney (UTS). “The demand for amino acids in supplements has expanded but in addition to the normal protein-building amino acids other ‘non-protein’ amino acids are being taken.”

Toxic supplements

Researchers say that non-protein amino acids, such as L-norvaline, can result in toxicity. These compounds are capable of tricking the body into producing defective proteins.

According to Samardzic, some plants use non-protein amino acids to get rid of predators and other plants. They release these compounds into the soil.

Scientists in the current study noted that L-norvaline has been shown to produce herbicidal and antimicrobial effects. This observed activity influenced the decision to investigate its toxic effects on human cells.

Their finding suggests that the use of this compound may result in damage to brain cells.

Initially, the non-protein amino acids mimic protein-making amino acids, possibly enabling cells to make more energy. The study shows that the mechanism producing the energy soon becomes faulty after some time, according to lead researcher Associate Professor Ken Rodgers.

This research is the first to examine the potential for L-norvaline to be toxic in human cells.


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