What is alanine?

Alanine is a nonessential amino acid [1]. In can be produced from pyruvate–which is produced from glucose–in your body, so you do not need to get it from food in order to be healthy [2].

In foods, alanine is incorporated into proteins.

Alanine abbreviation (symbol): Ala

Alanine Functions in the Human Body

Alanine is [2]:

  • A building block of proteins
  • A glucogenic acid — it can be converted to glucose
  • An energy source for brain, muscles
  • Involved in sugar and amino acid metabolism
  • Involved in immunity

Foods High in Alanine

  • ANIMAL FOODS: meet, fish, cheese [3]
  • PLANT FOODS: legumes, seeds and nuts [3]

Foods low in alanine: fruits, vegetables [3]

Alanine Supplements

Available nonprescription (over-the-counter) oral alanine supplements:

  • L-alanine
  • Beta-alanine

Beta-Alanine Health Benefits

Beta-alanine supplements are POSSIBLY EFFECTIVE in:

  • Increasing athletic performance (by about 3%) in exercise lasting 1-4 minutes [4,5].
  • Increasing exercise performance in elderly [4,6]

There is INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE [4] about the effectiveness of beta-alanine supplements in the prevention or treatment of hot flashes in postmenopausal women.

Alanine Safety: Side Effects, Toxicity

Beta-alanine supplements are POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth in recommended doses [4].

Side effects may include flushing and tingling [4].

During Pregnancy

Not enough studies have been done about the safety of beta-alanine supplements during pregnancy and breastfeeding, so women in these periods should avoid them.

  1. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids (Macronutrients) ( 2005 ) /10 Protein and Amino Acids  National Academic Press
  2. L-alanine  PubChem
  3. List of foods high and low in alanine  US Department of Agriculture
  4. Beta-alanine  WebMD
  5. Hobson RM et al, 2012, Effects of β-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis  PubMed Central
  6. Stout JR et al, 2008, The effect of beta-alanine supplementation on neuromuscular fatigue in elderly (55–92 Years): a double-blind randomized study  PubMed Central

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