Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements (2017).



Beta-alanine is an amino acid in foods such as meat, poultry, and fish. People get up to about 1 gram a day of beta-alanine, depending on their diet. Your body uses beta-alanine to make carnosine in skeletal muscles. When you exercise intensely for several minutes, your muscles produce lactic acid, which reduces muscular force and causes tiredness. Carnosine reduces the buildup of lactic acid. Beta-alanine supplements increase muscle carnosine levels by different amounts, depending on the person.

DOES IT WORK? Some, but not all, studies have shown that beta-alanine produces small performance improvements in swimming and team sports, like hockey and football, that require high-intensity, intermittent effort over short periods. Whether beta-alanine helps with endurance activities like cycling isn’t clear. It’s also not clear whether beta-alanine mainly benefits trained athletes or recreational exercisers. In most studies, participants took 1.6 to 6.4 grams a day of beta-alanine for 4 to 8 weeks.
IS IT SAFE? Taking 800 milligrams or more beta-alanine can cause moderate to severe paresthesia, a tingling, prickling, or burning sensation in your face, neck, back of the hands, and upper trunk. This effect can last 60 to 90 minutes but is not considered serious or harmful. Taking divided doses or a sustained-release form of beta-alanine can reduce or eliminate this paresthesia. It isn’t known whether it’s safe to take beta-alanine supplements daily for more than several months.
BOTTOM LINE Sports-medicine experts disagree on the value of taking beta-alanine supplements to enhance performance in high-intensity, intermittent activities. The International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends that if you are healthy and want to try beta-alanine supplements, take a daily loading dose of 4 to 6 grams per day (in divided doses with meals) for at least 2 weeks to see if it helps.
REMARK Many performance supplements in the marketplace contain more than one ingredient, and ingredients can work differently when they’re combined. Because most ingredient combinations have not been studied, it is not known how effective or safe they are in improving performance.

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