Did you know that most BCAAs in the market are made from human hair, duck feathers and animal skin/hair! Yikes!
What! Did I just read that right? Are you trying to tell me that my pre-workout supplement, the one I so willingly chugged this morning before I killed it in the gym, was derived from hair salon clippings and the stuff they cram into my pillows?
Unfortunately, the answer is most likely, yes.
The use of these materials in branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) has been purposefully hidden by the supplement industry for a long time. Why have they been keeping it a secret from you, the consumer, all of this time? It’s all about dollars and cents, really. Most people view duck feathers, animal skin and human hair as byproducts, and would usually send them straight to the dump. However, the supplement industry seems to think it’s more important to make some raw materials from them! Hundreds of years ago, healers and doctors discovered that these materials are naturally high in keratin. Keratin, in simplest form, is a fibrous protein and is responsible for our hair and skin sticking together and not just falling apart. Keratin is essentially pure protein. By using certain acids and solvents, you can easily yield proteins and amino acids from keratin. Currently, most of these BCAAs are coming out of China, and that’s why it important to know where and how your supplements are manufactured.
Fear not, though. There are a few companies out there that offer a higher quality and more costly alternative – fermented vegan BCAAs. These are usually manufactured in Japan or Korea and are derived mainly from corn. The high demand for BCAAs has caused manufacturers to streamline their process over the last few years, which has made this alternative much more appealing as costs have gone down greatly. In the past, they were about 4 times more expensive than traditional Chinese BCAAs.
So who cares? I love me some hair and feathers in my shakes….
Ultimately the choice is yours, but here at True Nutrition, the little things always matter. Besides the fact that the raw materials used to make these free-form amino acids is so much more sustainable than human or animal skin/hair/feathers, the process is also much gentler, because the harsh chemicals used to treat skin-related keratin aren’t used. We also feel that fermented vegan BCAAs, or any fermented aminos for that matter, also taste much better. Although they do have a slightly more sour taste than regular aminos, for our vegan/vegetarian customers, the choice is clear.
Here at True Nutrition, we are not looking to cut corners. For us, it’s all about putting out the best possible products containing the best possible ingredients for our customers. When you are shopping products in the market, please make sure you’re comparing apples to apples, and always be equipped with truthful information. We always prioritize what you, our customer, is consuming rather than our bottom line when it comes to our BCAAs, or any of our products for that matter. When looking to buy your next pre-workout, amino acid concoction or raw/bulk amino acids, always read between the lines and don’t be afraid to ask your supplement company/manufacturer about where their amino acids and products are from and how they are derived.
It’s your only body…care what you put in it!
Doug Smith, True Nutrition Co-Founder