Beta-alanine is basically a non-essential amino acid, which is the one and only beta-amino acid that occurs naturally. One should not mistake this non-essential amino acid for regular alanine. Since it is believed that beta alanine does not help in building proteins, it has been classified under non-proteinogenic amino acid.

It is believed that oral consumption of beta alanine enclosing dipeptides like anserine, balenine and carnosine is the great naturally occurring dietary source of this non-essential amino acid. This is contrary to the view that direct consumption of beta alanine is more effective. The above mentioned dipeptides occur naturally in foods rich in protein like fish, chicken, beef and pork.

It is worth mentioning that our body receives the major part of its beta alanine supply mainly when we consume dipeptide carnosine. This is because the other two dipeptides are not found in equally abundant amounts in our usual coniferous diet. However, these dipeptides are not the only source from which we can obtain beta alanine. In fact, our body is able to synthesize beta alanine from the catabolic process of pyrimidine nucleotides in the liver. During the catabolic process, pyrimidine nucleotides break down into thymine and uracil, which are subsequently metabolized to form beta alanine and B-aminoisobutyrate. You can also obtain beta alanine by ingesting its supplement directly.

Our body also produces this non-essential amino acid naturally when the ingested fish, meat or poultry (chicken breast in particular) are broken down in the stomach. Our body mainly uses beta alanine to produce a compound found in the muscles called carnosine. This natural compound helps to prevent muscle fatigue during or after any high-intensity workout. Our muscles become weary when there is an accumulation of acid in them. In such conditions, carnosine is effective in controlling the production and release of these acids, thereby alleviating muscle fatigue.

It has been established that when the levels of beta alanine in one's system is higher, it helps their body to produce more carnosine. Therefore, ingestion of more beta alanine is effective in boosting the performance of athletes and people in other sports. At the same time, this non-essential amino acid also helps in muscle repair. Beta alanine works by augmenting the time for which our muscles are able to exercise before they become fatigued. This actually enables sportspersons to undertake longer periods of workout without letting their muscles to become exhausted. Consequently, it aids in additional muscle building.

In the form of an isolated supplement, beta alanine came into existence for the first time in 1900 following the discovery of carnosine. Gulewitsch, a Russian scientist, is credited for discovering carnosine, a compound which helps in building muscles. Subsequently, Gulewitsch discovered as well as identified the amino acids contained by this compound, including alanine and histidine. About seven years later, four scientists - Barger, Baumann, Ingvaldsen and Tutin corroborated the Russian's findings.

However, the findings of the first study on carnosine and the effects of this compound on muscle buffering were made public several years later - in 1938. The published findings comprised the process in which beta alanine helps in carnosine production in our body. Since our body has copious amounts of histidine and relatively small quantities of beta alanine during the production of carnosine, scientists isolated beta alanine in the form of a supplement. In fact, beta alanine is made in very small amounts in our body in the process involving carnosine production, but it is most needed as an external supplement to help avoid muscle fatigue during workouts.

Health benefits

When we talk about the non-essential amino acid, we actually refer to a nutritional supplement, which is widely used by athletes and bodybuilders to enhance their performances. Beta alanine occurs naturally in the human body. Several foods, including fish, chicken, beef and pork contain elevated amounts of this non-essential amino acid.

When taken before a workout, beta alanine helps to enhance one's workout capability. This ensures that he is able to train harder and for longer periods. Findings of studies have shown that this non-essential amino acid improves muscular endurance considerably, especially when one is undergoing strength training. Moreover, using beta alanine in the form of a dietary supplement may also help in postponing neuromuscular weariness.

It has been found that supplementing with beta alanine is useful for the anaerobic endurance of an individual. Beta alanine works by enhancing carnosine content in the muscles. This, in turn, augments the overall buffer capability of the muscle. Taking beta alanine supplements orally also helps to augment physical performances even in high intensity workouts.

Several studies have suggested that taking beta alanine in supplement form helps to intensify carnosine concentration in the muscles. When there is a massive increase in the muscles' buffering capacity, it also augments the endurance capacity of the muscles, in addition to power and strength. Experts advice taking about 4 grams of beta alanine supplement orally daily with a view to boost the carnosine levels substantially, thereby augmenting an individual's performance and also enhance muscle mass. Moreover, athletes can increase their aerobic endurance by taking supplements containing this non-essential amino acid on a regular basis. Contrary to using placebo, ingestion of beta alanine helps to improve sprint performance, which is vital for people in track athletics and cycling events.

When an individual engages in workouts, especially high intensity workout, his/ her body accumulates hydrogen ions, which result in a drop in the muscles' pH level. Beta alanine contains carnosine, which helps to keep the muscular pH stable by absorbing the hydrogen ions discharged during the workout.

The most common use of beta alanine is found among bodybuilders, who use this non-essential amino acid regularly to boost their performance. As the use of beta alanine helps to enhance the levels of inter-muscular carnosine, bodybuilders can undertake harder as well as longer trainings enabling for much more muscle growth. It has been found that beta alanine is a wonderful dietary supplement, especially for athletes undertaking high intensity workouts and seeking to restrain weariness of the muscles so that they are able to continue exercising harder and for longer periods.

Even non-athletes will find this non-essential amino acid supplement beneficial, as it helps to keep the lean muscle mass of the body in a healthy condition. In addition, ingestion of beta alanine also promotes the functioning of the various systems in the body, thereby helping one to ensure that they have a healthy weight. It is worth mentioning here that an elevated lean muscle mass concentration is directly related to higher bone density. In general, beta alanine is an excellent dietary supplement for people who want to be stronger and also live longer.

Side effects and cautions

When taken in excess of the recommended dosage, the non-essential amino acid beta alanine causes a number of side effects. The most widespread side effect of using beta alanine is known as parathesia. When a person experiences this condition, he feels as if his skin is being pricked with pins and needles. However, this side effect generally lasts for about an hour. Sometimes taking unregulated doses of this compound may also cause the skin to become slightly reddish. If you are taking beta alanine, it is important to check the manufacturing source of the supplement and from where it is being supplied. However, so far as you take the supplement in proper dosage along with food or divide the dosage, you should not be experiencing any side effect of taking it orally. Even if you do experience any side effect, it will be trifle.


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