Valine: How It Works, Benefits, Clinical Studies And Side Effects

What is Valine?


Abbreviation: V or Val

Valine is a branched chain amino acid (BCAA), all of which play a major role in muscle building, repair and strength.

Function: It promotes protein synthesis and repair in the muscles by triggering certain pathways in the cells.

Ingredient usage in: Sports supplements.

Valine is a branched chain alpha-amino acid which is utilized by the body in the biosynthesis of proteins. It is an essential amino acid – meaning that the human body is incapable of producing leucine, therefore it has to be obtained from other sources such as diet or supplements. It is synthesized naturally in many plants and microorganisms.

Benefits of Valine for Body Building

Valine has the following benefits for body building:

  • Helps in muscle growth
  • Helps in tissue repair
  • Increases energy
  • Boosts metabolism
  • Helps in muscle coordination
  • Increases muscle endurance
  • Improves physical performance
  • Promotes synthesis of glycogen is muscles

How Does It Work?

Valine also promotes the synthesis of muscle proteins. The mTOR (mechanistic target of rapamycin) pathway is one of the most widely researched muscle building pathway. Like leucine, valine also activates the mTOR complex, unlocking the pathways for muscle building. mTOR gets disabled in low levels of these amino acids. When sufficient leucine or valine is present, the protein synthesis in the muscles is switched on which causes muscle growth, and also prevents muscle degradation. However, it should be noted, that valine is less potent as compared to leucine in activating the mTOR pathway.

Other Benefits

Other benefits of valine include:

  • It helps in calming strong emotions
  • It helps maintain mental vigor
  • It may help in treating liver disorders
  • BCAAs are used in the treatment of many metabolic disorders
  • BCAAs are used in parenteral nutrition for patients having sepsis or other such abnormalities
  • Used as an ingredient in the food industry
  • Can be used as a supplement, drug or feed for animals
  • May increase insulin secretion
  • May also induce a transient state of resistance to insulin (faster than leucine)
  • Valine may have anti-viral properties


Valine can be obtained from diet to get the required amount of leucine for your body. However, if you are planning on building muscle, you will have to turn towards valine supplements for help.

Some natural food sources of valine are meet, fish, vegetables, soya, cheese, etc.

Clinical Studies

Less or no research has been conducted on isolated valine; rather research focusing on BCAA have been performed as given below:

  • A study ( was conducted to evaluate the effects of BCAA on muscle loss and power in people trekking at high altitudes. According to the results of the study, BCAAs supplementation synthesizes muscular tissue, and can prevent loss of muscle mass during hypoxia (low levels of oxygen in the body).
  • In another study (, resistance trained participants were provided with a 14g supplement of either:

                Whey protein
                BCAAs, or
                Carbohydrate placebo

The study went on for 8 weeks and all the participants also took part in a strength training routine. At the end of the study, it was found that the BCAA group had significant changes as compared to others. They had a 4 kg increase in leans mass and 2% loss in body fat.

Side Effects

High levels of BCAA in blood may cause:

  • Mood swings
  • Sleep problems

A word of caution

  • For ALS patients, it is recommended to steer clear of valine as it may cause lung failure, hypoglycemia and even death.
  • In people are suffering from branched-chain ketoaceduria, high levels of valine can cause seizures and severe mental retardation
  • Valine supplementation may be immuno stimulatory in cirrhotic patients


Valine is one of the essential amino acids which cannot be produced by our body, but nonetheless, is very important for muscular growth and protein synthesis. Being one of the three BCAAs, valine promotes muscle growth, repair and endurance. Valine is generally taken along with leucine and isoleucine; the two other BCAAs. The ratio of BCAAs in the body needs to be maintained, and any upset or increased levels may lead to health implications and serious damage to the body. If you want to start on valine or BCAA supplements, keep the contraindications in mind, and do consult your doctor to avoid any negative health consequences of this supplement.