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HICA (alpha-hydroxy-isocaproic acid)

HICA & Athlete Supplementation

Strategic athlete supplementation has always been thought of an as additive, meaning the supplement increases effective ATP, oxygenation, or substrates used for muscle building, endurance, etc. Yet, sometimes the gains a supplement provides are not additive, but instead, work by preventing catabolism (the metabolic pathway where the body breaks down molecules to provide energy). HICA (alpha-hydroxy-isocaproic acid) also known as leucic acid or DL-2-hydroxy-4-methylvaleric acid, is one such supplement that prevents muscle breakdown. HICA is typically produced in the muscles and connective tissues as a result of the metabolism of the amino acid leucine. Additionally, certain foods contain HICA such as wine, soy sauce and some cheeses.3,4,5,6

HICA & Muscle Breakdown

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which usually occurs 24-48 hours after intense exercise, and that can last for 5-7 days, is thought to be due to damage and inflammation within the muscle. There is scientific evidence that HICA supplementation can inhibit the breakdown of muscle and connective tissue proteins. As such, DOMS can be decreased with HICA supplementation.5,6,7,8

HICA Studies

HICA was evaluated in top soccer athletes who were put through an intensive 4 week training regime where they were running 4 times per week, strength training twice a week, and playing a game once weekly. Typically the athletes would run 5-7 miles during these games. The control group of athletes lost lean body mass over that period of time due to the catabolism of muscle. However, in those athletes taking HICA, they actually gained lean mass and had less DOMS. Thus, HICA was significant in preventing muscle catabolism. Amazingly, other studies also have suggested that HICA further supports mTOR effects and muscle protein synthesis.9

In summary, HICA plays a vital role in minimizing muscle protein catabolism. Moreover, when supplemented in a diet, it has also been shown to increase lean muscle gains due to its possible role in mTOR mediated protein synthesis. HICA is a vital ingredient in DIOXYME’s Muscle Protein Optimizer (MPO), and is included at the scientific dose that was proven effective by multiple human trials.

HICA References
  1. Van Wyk CJ, Kepner RE, Webb AD: Some volatile components of vitis vinifera variety white riesling. 2. Organic acids extracted from wine. Journal of Food Science. 1967, 32 (6): 664-668. 10.1111/j.1365-2621.1967.
  2. Begemann WJ, Harkes PD: Enhancing a fresh cheese flavor in foods. 1974, U. Lever Brothers Co.
  3. Begemann WJ, Harkes PD: Process for enhancing a fresh cheese flavor in foods. U.S. 1974
  4. Smit BA, Engels WJ, Wouters JT, Smit G: Diversity of L-leucine catabolism in various microorganisms involved in dairy fermentations, and identification of the rate-controlling step in the formation of the potent flavor component 3-methylbutanal. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2004, 64 (3): 396-402. 10.1007/s00253-003-1447-8.
  5. Westermarck HW, Hietala P: Use of alpha-hydroxy acids in the manufacture of a medicament for the treatment of inflammation. Exracta Oy. Patent Number WO 97/00676. 1997
  6. Barlas P, Craig JA, Robinson J, Walsh DM, Baxter GD, Allen JM: Managing delayed-onset muscle soreness: lack of effect of selected oral systemic analgesics. Arch Phys Med Rehabilitation. 2000, 81: 966-972. 10.1053/apmr.2000.6277.
  7. Lieber L, Friden J: Morphologic and mechanical basis of delayed-onset muscle soreness. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2002, 10 (1): 67-73.
  8. Antti A MeroEmail author, Tuomo Ojala, Juha J Hulmi, Risto Puurtinen, Tuomo AM Karila and Timo Seppälä Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2010 7:1
  9. Lang CH, Pruznak A, Navaratnarajah M, Rankine KA, Deiter G, Magne H, Offord EA, Breuillé D. Chronic α-hydroxyisocaproic acid treatment improves muscle recovery after immobilization-induced atrophy. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metabol. 2013; 305(3):416–428.

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Written by Marc S. Schneider, M.D., P.A.