Know Your Nutrients: Isoleucine

Isoleucine Survival

Our final essential amino acid brings us full circle to recovery. As a branched chain amino acid, isoleucine plays a critical role in the maintenance and repair of muscle tissue. But it also plays a key role in the substance that keeps us alive: blood. If there’s one thing that is certain when it comes to survival situations, like Daniel Day Lewis there will be blood. Does isoleucine have a place in your emergency supplies? Read on to find out

Hemoglobin formation

Hemoglobin is one of the most essential proteins in all mammals. On average, it consists of 97% of the volume in erythrocytes, or red blood cells. As a matter of fact, they are the reason your blood cells are red. One of the key components of the hemoglobin molecule is iron, which is red when bound to oxygen (think rust).

Isoleucine is needed in order for the body to produce hemoglobin. Without isoleucine, the ability to produce hemoglobin would be greatly reduced. Without proper hemoglobin, the body cannot transport oxygen to the tissues of your body. Not surprisingly, the results of deficiency in isoleucine reflect that of blood loss. Fatigue, headaches, and dizziness are common.

Blood sugar

Isoleucine also plays a role in one of our favorite topics, blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that isoleucine is instrumental in shuttling blood sugar into depleted muscle cells. As muscles work, they burn through their own local fuel source, a carbohydrate known as glycogen. When muscle glycogen is depleted, it becomes difficult to perform explosive motions required to move fast or be strong.

So in addition to providing the means to shuttle sugar in times of duress (like self defense), maintaining proper levels of isoleucine is essential for the body’s ability to recover from these situations. To be able to fight another day at full capacity, you need isoleucine and the other branched chain amino acids.

Blood clot formation

The last part of the blood trifecta is blood clotting. Isoleucine was actually first isolated from a protein called fibrin. Fibrin makes up the structure of blood clots, scabs and forms a scaffolding for platelets to aggregate. Without adequate isoleucine, blood clotting would be slower and less effective.

This is obviously of great importance for anyone in an emergency self defense situation. The ability to stop bleeding will allow you to conserve precious resources in your blood and keep your aerobic capacity up. Moreover, the blood that is lost will be able to regenerate hemoglobin with the proper levels of isoleucine. If you’re going to bleed, you need to think about isoleucine!

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by JP Martin