BCAA and depression?

  1. BCAA and depression?

    I have read that BCAA can cause depression I believe by suppressing serotonin and dopamine. Maybe I am not reading through this correctly.

    Has anyone experienced this while taking BCAA?

    I cant post the link because its a non board sponsor's article.

    Here is part of an article that mentions reducing dopamine levels.

    [QUOTE] In addition to the effects on tryptophan levels, BCAA's may have other effects on the CNS, both direct and indirect. A well established property is that BCAA supplements reduce dopamine levels, an effect that occurs in many sample populations including healthy human volunteers (at doses of 10, 30, and 60 g) [40]. There are two possible reasons for this effect. The primary reason is that BCAA's competitively inhibit transport of phenylalanine and tyrosine to the brain (similar to the inhibition of tryptophan) [41]. Secondly, BCAA's also simultaneously lower the plasma levels of key amino acids required for neurotransmitter synthesis. This occurs because the BCAA's stimulate protein synthesis, but other amino acids are also required for protein synthesis. This issue does not occur with whole protein sources, which also provide the other amino acids required for protein synthesis. BCAA's also consequently lower levels of norepinephrine [42]. In conditions such as mania and hepatic encephalopathy, this effect of BCAA's can be beneficial [41-42]. However, decreased levels of NE and dopamine are generally not desirable in normal individuals. Functional changes induced in healthy humans by BCAA ingestion so far include impaired spatial memory and elevated plasma prolactin [40-41]. There is also a reference in the literature to BCAA ingestion increasing appetite [43]. [QUOTE]

    40. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2002 Mar;160(2):192-7. Epub 2002 Jan 10. A dose-finding study on the effects of branch chain amino acids on surrogate markers of brain dopamine function. Gijsman HJ, Scarna A, Harmer CJ, McTavish SB, Odontiadis J, Cowen PJ, Goodwin GM.

    41. Br J Psychiatry. 2003 Mar;182:210-3. Effects of a branched-chain amino acid drink in mania. Scarna A, Gijsman HJ, McTavish SF, Harmer CJ, Cowen PJ, Goodwin GM.

    42. Am J Psychiatry. 2003 Jun;160(6):1117-24. Efficacy of the branched-chain amino acids in the treatment of tardive dyskinesia in men. Richardson MA, Bevans ML, Read LL, Chao HM, Clelland JD, Suckow RF, Maher TJ, Citrome L.

    43. Brain Res Bull. 1999 Jul 1;49(4):281-4. Branched-chain amino acid-induced hippocampal norepinephrine release is antagonized by picrotoxin: evidence for a central mode of action. Torigoe K, Potter PE, Katz DP.


  2. I have not noticed this while taking BCAA. I take 9 scoops of that Xtend product pre/during/post workout and have not noticed any deprerssive affects.

  3. I also take 5-8 scoops of xtend during workout or cardio and have had no signs of this.

  4. Interesting thread, might want to bring it to the attention of erm...

    Derek beast?

    bah!... you know who i mean

  5. I've never read this, but I'm sure Derek would know more about it. I am depressed all the time, but I don't think it's from my X-Tend dosage.

  6. I've been saying this can happen in my other posts because yes those aminos all compete for the aromatic amino acid transporter.

    You need histidine, tryptophan, tyrosine/phenylalanine for the classic monoamine neurotransmitters and if BCAA levels got high enough you could theoretically starve them out of the brain.

    Here is the kicker though. If you are exercising heavily you will oxidize the BCAAs and this will not happen. Personally I think BCAAs are best used for cutting efforts ideally.

    In situations where you are bulking and BCAA oxidation is not increased maybe more EAAs (from whole protein) are warranted to ensure balanced uptake into the brain.

    Speaking of aromatic amino acids and the brain I've always liked protein blends for this reason. Whey is heavier in Tryptophan relative to phenylalanine/tyrosine whereas milk protein isolate/casein is not.


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