Amino acids are undoubtedly the essential fuel for proper and better bodily functioning. In case of their absence (just even one of them), it will be impossible for our body to function as it is. So, does the body produce them internally?
Well, yes, technically. However, there are certain essential amino acids that our body is incapable of producing by itself. Valine, one of the three important amino acids in BCAAs, is one of them which the body needs in specific quantities to function at its best.
Along with Leucine and Isoleucine, Valine is essential for building and repairing muscle cells. Although it does not have a specified role in the process of body functioning and can be replicated by other amino acids, our body still requires Valine to operate all the internal processes. Therefore, let’s just say that everything has its own purpose and role, and so does Valine.
Valine is the most crucial amino acid for athletes. Additionally, let’s find out its importance to vegans and how they may obtain plant-based valine foods from a vegan lifestyle.
Understanding Protein and Amino Acids
As we all know, animal products are rich in protein; we are often left with a basic question, “What are the sources of protein for vegans?” Well, vegans can obtain their fair share of protein from a number of sources such as legumes, nuts, seeds, chickpeas, tofu, and many more.
Protein-rich foods help the body to repair and regenerate new cells and are important for growth and development in children, adults as well as pregnant women. Protein also provides the body with high energy and plenty of other nutritional benefits.
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins for the growth and development of the cells in our bodies. Each amino acid has its unique function, and yet they all are similar in qualities and responsibilities. The amount of amino acids consumed by vegans on a daily basis can be questionable in regards to their plant-based diets.
However, one can easily overcome the problem by simply opting for food items that are rich in amino acids, such as soybeans, peanuts, kidney beans, lentils, etc. You must remember to keep an eye on what you are consuming in the name of the food in a day to monitor your regular dose of amino acids intake.
What are Essential and Non-Essential Amino Acids?
Protein-rich foods are broken down into amino acids during the process of digestion since our body requires a large amount of amino acids to maintain good health and functioning. Amino acids can be categorized into two types- Essential and Non-essential amino acids. There are 20 amino acids used to synthesize proteins into the body, among which only 9 are considered essential amino acids. Further, of those 9, only three are branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs).
Essential amino acids are those that the body cannot produce by itself and has to be supplemented. They are essential for a variety of important body functions and hence, cannot be neglected.
Non-essential amino acids are produced by the body through the essential amino acids or in the general process of protein breakdown. Another type of amino acid, known as Conditional amino acids, is usually needed in times of stress and illness.
What is Valine? Why is it Important?
Valine is one of the three branched-chain essential amino acids, along with Leucine (check food sources of leucine)and Isoleucine (check food sources of isoleucine), i.e., BCAAs. Valine has stimulant properties, which means that it promotes tissue repair, muscle growth and is also a procurator of the penicillin biosynthetic pathway.
Valine enhances energy and increases endurance while also aiming to aid in muscle tissue recovery and repairment. The BCAAs also help to reduce blood sugar levels and increase hormone production.
Therefore, Valine is crucial, especially for children and infants, to boost up their overall growth and development. In case of lack of Valine in the body, it can influence improper growth, develop neuropathic obstacles and also be the reason to cause anemia.
Thus, it is important to ensure your body is not lacking Valine and make sure you obtain a good amount of it from foods high in valine or supplements.
How Much Valine Do You Need A Day?
Valine supplements should always be combined with Leucine and Isoleucine at a milligram ratio of 2:1:2. Although there’s no fixed recommended daily amount of Valine intake, the common values are usually between 12 mg to 24 mg per kg of body weight. Therefore, for a 77 kg person, 1848 mg per day will be sufficient. Athletes should aim for even more.
Best Sources of Valine for Vegans
Some of the most easily accessible valine foods that can be consumed by vegans are as follows:
Oats are universally loved staple food in diets and are extremely delicious with considerable health benefits, especially for vegans. Oats have an impressive amino acid profile and can be included in a diet as valine rich food. Precisely, 1 cup of oats can lend you as much as 1.46 grams of valine.
Pumpkin seeds are another great option and rank fairly high in the list of valine foods that can be consumed by vegans. These can be eaten as a snack as it is or even used in recipes to prepare meals. They are not only delicious and healthy but provide a lot of health benefits to the body. A cup of pumpkin seeds can provide up to 0.95 grams of Valine amino acid.
Soybeans are the perfect substitute for meat for vegans, which are also widely loved by non-vegetarians as well. It is popularly used in a number of delicious recipes all over the world. Soybeans have an impressive amino acid profile and can be included in a diet as valine rich food. One cup of soybeans can approximately provide 0.98 grams of Valine to the body for vegans.
4. Dried Seaweed
Dried Seaweed is yet another important source of Valine amino acid which can be a perfect addition to your diet. About 1 tablespoon of dried seaweed can provide approximately 0.246 grams of Valine (1.23 grams per 100 calories).
A bunch of spinach can be an excellent source of vital nutrients and is considered as one of the plant-based valine foods. Although it barely provides around 0.58 grams of Valine to the body, you can easily include it in your diet to incorporate some source of Valine amino acid.
6. Vegan BCAA Supplement
BCAA supplements provide the essential Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine amino acids to the body. They come in both vegan and non-vegan options and can be of both good and bad quality, respectively.
They help to optimize muscle growth, strength capacity, cardiovascular health, etc. BCAAs supplement also has a reputation as a bodybuilder supplement since fitness enthusiasts mostly consume them to build big and bulky muscle mass.
Comparing the Top Vegan Valine Foods Per 100 Calories
Below is a detailed comparison of the top vegan foods that are high in valine:
|Food||Serving||Energy (KCal)||Valine (G)|
|Pumpkin seeds||1 cup||285||0.954|
|Kidney beans||1 cup||225||0.804|
|Black beans||1 cup||227||0.798|
|Rye grain||1 cup||571||0.536|
|Hemp seeds||3 tbsp||166||0.533|
|Swiss chard||10 leafs||91||0.528|
Verdict | Can Vegans Get Enough Valine on a Plant-based Diet?
To conclude, we can summarize this discussion by saying that vegans or vegetarians can get enough Valine from their plant-based diets. However, they are usually suggested to cut off certain food items containing high amounts of amino acids.
Still, they can obtain their regular dose of amino acids from a nutrition-specified balanced vegan diet and essential amino acids from necessary vegan BCAAs supplements. There are a plethora of varieties available when it comes to vegan food choices, and therefore, there’s nothing to worry about.