Optimizing Ingredients

Maximizing the Potential of Essential Amino Acids

Essential amino acids appear to be the most efficient nutrient for the stimulation of muscle protein synthesis in older and younger subjects, though the cellular mechanisms responsible are under investigation.

In addition to being the precursors for protein synthesis, essential amino acids may directly stimulate the synthetic process. Among the essential amino acids, branched chain amino acids or BCAAs have been shown to be the major carriers of amino nitrogen between the viscera and the peripheral tissues, including skeletal muscle. But more importantly, they appear to be the ones most responsible for the direct stimulation of muscle protein synthesis.

Amino acids such as L-arginine are also the molecular building blocks of protein, the nutrient our body uses to build and repair muscle and other body tissues. Thus, consuming amino acids such as L-arginine in conjunction with workouts, which stimulate a drive for growth, may help humans gain more muscle. According to a study from the July 2010 issue of Amino Acid, increased L-arginine intake may increase muscle mass and reduce body fat.

The potential applications for amino acids in human and animal platforms are many. And at Maxx we are experiencing a growing interest in masking the taste, slowing the release and enhancing the bioavailability of BCAAs such as arginine. In animal studies our slow release amino acids (and vitamins) have shown up to 94% bioavailability.

Arginine is important in the synthesis of connective tissue and arginine-rich proteins. Animals subjected to wounds or fractures have improved rates of wound healing, nitrogen retention and growth when supplemented with dietary arginine. Research conducted at the University of Tennessee demonstrated that arginine supplementation was an effective alleviator method to reduce the yearly multi-million dollar losses attributable to cattle grazing tall fescue grass contaminated with toxins.

The challenge, for one of our customers, however, was delivering arginine beyond the stomach. The customer understood the benefits of L-arginine and that by slowing its release, they could target its site of absorption and deliver an exact dose. (Data from the 2010 Journal of Strength and Conditioning indicate that arginine may be able to raise growth hormone levels by up to 1,000%).

It was in this context that we were challenged to mask the taste of L-arginine, slow its release to survive passage through the stomach and enhance its bioavailability. After presenting the customer with the initial prototype, feedback indicated that not only were we able to mask the taste, obviating the need for expensive flavorings, we were able to achieve release over a 6-8 hour period and enhance the bioavailability.

And, Maxx was able to deliver all three of these desired functionalities in one microencapsulated solution.

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