Beta alanine

Beta alanine is the only beta amino acid that is naturally occurring. It is one of the non-essential amino acids, meaning the human body does not necessarily need it to survive. It’s also classified as a non-proteinogenic amino acid, unlike standard alanine. Beta alanine is generally obtained through foods rich in anserine, balenine, and carnosine. These dipeptides can be found in any food high in protein, including all types of meat. Most beta alanine comes from carnosine. According to research, beta alanine has a number of benefits, including increasing strength, muscle mass, aerobic and anaerobic endurance, and delaying muscle fatigue. Beta alanine’s effects have been backed by university studies that involved human participants, not animals.

Beta alanine is often used by athletes and others who exercise often as a way of keeping up their power, endurance, and strength while exercising. During exercise, especially really intensive exercise, the human body builds up a lot of hydrogen ions. These ions cause the pH level in the muscles to drop. As this level drops, muscles lose the ability to forcibly be contracted, which is what makes your muscles feel fatigued. As this happens, you start to feel a loss of strength and you start to get very tired. This is actually a good thing in some cases—it’s your body’s way of saying that you’ve overloaded your muscles. However, without reaching this point, you can’t force new muscles to grow.

Beta alanine helps to stop this drop in pH in the muscles through the synthesis of carnosine. While carnosine is broken down in the body into beta alanine and histidine, when these amino acids are carried to the muscles, they are synthesized back into carnosine through a specific enzyme called carnosine synthetase. This reformed carnosine stabilizes the pH balance in the muscle to its optimal level, absorbing many of the hydrogen ions and making the muscle work at its peak efficiency. This allows the muscle to continue to contract for a longer period of time, meaning you can exercise longer and harder.

The carnosine created from beta alanine has several other beneficial properties as well. Carnosine is not used for other cell functions like many of the other dipeptides are, making it more powerful in the one function it does do. However, it is possible to really up the capabilities of carnosine and make the pH balance in our muscles remain at optimum levels for longer periods by taking beta alanine supplements. Studies show that within four weeks of taking these supplements, the carnosine level in muscles increases by almost 50 percent. Within three months, carnosine levels can increase by up to 80 percent, making the muscles capable of much longer exercise periods. The longer you can exercise, the more muscle you can build, so it’s obvious just how beneficial beta alanine is.

Beta alanine is completely safe to use as an exercise supplement. Studies have shown that 12 weeks worth of usage is not at all harmful. Since no studies have been done on longer term usage, you may want to discuss taking beta alanine with a health care professional if you plan on taking it longer than three months. The standard dose of beta alanine is between 3 and 5 grams per day. Taking more than 5 grams doesn’t seem to lead to a large amount of improvement. Overall, four grams seems to be the best amount. Once you start taking beta alanine daily, you should see results within a month. Once the carnosine levels start to rise, they will continue to increase as you take the supplement for at least 12 weeks, possibly longer.

Last updated on Dec 25th, 2009 and filed under Nutritional Information. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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