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Derivative of the amino acid histidine, found almost exclusively in the contractile proteins of muscle (myosin and actin). Useful as an index of lean meat content of foods, because it is not present in collagen or other added materials. Formed in protein after synthesis, and not reutilised when protein is catabolised. Urinary excretion has been proposed as an index of muscle protein turnover, but smaller pools of methyl histidine in non-muscle tissues turn over faster than muscle, and confound the interpretation of results.