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What is Valine?

Valine is an essential amino acid vital for muscle growth, tissue repair, and energy production. It's a building block of proteins, found in foods like dairy, meat, and soy. Its branched-chain structure helps maintain mental vigor and muscle coordination. Intrigued by how valine impacts your health? Discover its benefits and sources as we explore the significance of this nutrient in your diet.
Douglas Bonderud
Douglas Bonderud

Valine is an amino acid necessary for human health. It is known as a branched chain amino acid (BCAA). This amino acid functions as a stimulant and promotes muscle repair. It was first isolated in 1901 by Emil Fischer, a German chemist. Foods such as fish, cottage cheese, poultry, mushrooms, and brown rice are all high in this amino acid.

Also known as Val or simply V, this is one of the three BCAAs which are required for the human body to function properly. Leucine and isoleucine, in combination with it, account for 70% of the amino acids present in a human body's proteins. Valine is responsible for encouraging normal human growth, repairing tissue, and regulating blood sugar. A lack of this amino acid results in diminished mental functioning.

Fish contains valine.
Fish contains valine.

This substance is known as an essential amino acid, which means that the body cannot produce it on its own, and that dietary sources are necessary. It is possible to be deficient in the amino acid, despite the abundance of natural sources available. Individuals on low-fat diets and those who do a great deal of strength training may need supplements, as they may not be getting enough of it in their food, or may be outstripping its ability to repair muscle tissue. A lack of it in the human body can cause nerve damage by degrading the nerves' myelin coverings, and this can lead to neurological disorders.

Cottage cheese contains valine.
Cottage cheese contains valine.

An excess of valine can give rise to hallucinations and a interrupt liver function. A condition known as maple syrup urine disease (MSUD) occurs when the human body is unable to metabolize valine or any other BCAA. This condition causes the urine to smell like maple syrup. Additional BCAA supplements are not recommended in this case.

In addition to healthy muscle development, this amino acid can help to prevent loss of muscle tissue in patients with diabetes. It also detoxifies ammonia in the body with the help of alpha-ketoglutarate. This can prevent hospitalized and elderly patients from succumbing to ammonia toxicity. It has been suggested that this amino acid can also aid in the treatment of liver and brain damage caused by alcohol.

Poultry contains valine.
Poultry contains valine.

Although there is no direct scientific evidence to support valine's function as a muscle growth supplement, it is taken by many bodybuilders for this purpose. If taken as a supplement, this should be balanced with the other two BCAAs. The recommended ratio is two milligrams of valine and leucine for each milligram of isoleucine taken.

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Discussion Comments


Anyone know how livestock obtain valine in their diet?


@sunnySkys - Yes, some fat in our diets is definitely necessary.

I think it's interesting that this amino acid might help in treating liver and brain damage caused by alcohol. Alcoholism is a disease that can take a devastating toll on the alcoholic and the alcoholics family.

It seems so unfair that when they finally do go into recovery and stop drinking they have all these other health problems. Liver damage, pancreatic problems, and of course possible damage to the brain. I know a few recovered alcoholics and let me tell you their mental function is definitely not what it used to be. Maybe there will eventually be a valine based treatment to help them.


I've always thought low-fat diets were a dumb idea and now I have some evidence to back it up! Eating too much fat is obviously a bad idea but humans need some fat because of the amino acids such as valine.

Now I understand why all my friends get so grouchy and out of it when they're on a diet! In addition to being hungry they probably have impaired mental function from lack of amino acids.

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    • Fish contains valine.
      By: pilipphoto
      Fish contains valine.
    • Cottage cheese contains valine.
      By: nata777_7
      Cottage cheese contains valine.
    • Poultry contains valine.
      By: Jacek Chabraszewski
      Poultry contains valine.
    • Brown rice contains valine.
      By: Okea
      Brown rice contains valine.
    • An excess of valine may give rise to hallucinations.
      By: MaxRiesgo
      An excess of valine may give rise to hallucinations.
    • Urine may smell like maple syrup when the human body is unable to metabolize valine.
      By: Bert Folsom
      Urine may smell like maple syrup when the human body is unable to metabolize valine.
    • Bodybuilders may take valine as a muscle growth supplement.
      By: michaeljung
      Bodybuilders may take valine as a muscle growth supplement.
    • Mushrooms contain valine.
      By: mbongo
      Mushrooms contain valine.