While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
Beta-alanine is a beta-amino acid that differs structurally from most amino acids found in the diet. In the body, beta-alanine forms part of the structure of vitamin B5, carnosine, and dihydrouracil. In the diet, beta-alanine is found mostly in meat, such as chicken, beef, pork, and fish.
Beta-alanine is thought to enhance exercise performance, mainly for activities that require power or strength, such as sprinting or weight lifting. Human studies have shown that beta-alanine may increase time to exhaustion, peak power during running, and an increase in weight and number of repetitions for the bench press. However, more research is needed.
Amounts of beta-alanine over 10 milligrams per kilogram of body weight may cause a feeling of “pins and needles.” This feeling may go away after a few weeks of continuous use.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
|Exercise performance enhancement
Studies suggest that beta-alanine may benefit body and muscle mass, muscle strength, and exercise performance in many types of athletes. However, there is conflicting evidence. More research is needed before conclusions can be made.
Preliminary studies found that beta-alanine was not as effective as some clinical drugs for reducing symptoms of menopause. Further research is needed before conclusions can be made.
*Key to grades:
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.
- Aging, anti-inflammatory, fatigue (muscle), food uses, nerve disorders, physical endurance, vasodilator (widens blood vessels).
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
Adults (18 years and older)
To improve exercise performance, two grams of beta-alanine has been taken by mouth daily for two weeks. The dose has then been increased to three grams daily for the next two weeks and then four grams daily for four weeks. A dose of 4.8 grams has been taken by mouth daily for 30 days. A dose of 3.2 grams of a beta-alanine product (CarnoSyn®, Natural Alternatives International, San Marcos, CA) has been taken by mouth for one week, followed by a dose of 6.4 grams daily for three weeks.
Secondary sources report that beta-alanine should be used daily during heavy training for at least 2-4 weeks. Other sources suggest a minimum of daily use over 12 weeks.
Children (under 18 years old)
There is no proven safe or effective dose for beta-alanine in children.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Avoid in people with known allergy or sensitivity to beta-alanine. An allergic reaction may occur if beta-alanine is inhaled, eaten, or touched.
Side Effects and Warnings
Beta-alanine is considered safe when used in amounts commonly found in foods. Beta-alanine is considered safe when used in doses of 4.8-6.4 grams daily for up to 30 days. However, there is a lack of safety information from human clinical trials.
Use cautiously in people who have chronic fatigue syndrome.
Use cautiously in people who are taking vasodilators (blood vessel-widening agents) such as sildenafil (Viagra®) or vigabatrin (Sabril®).
Avoid in people who have hyperbeta-alaninemia or dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD) deficiency.
Avoid in people with known allergy or sensitivity to beta-alanine. Allergic reaction may occur if beta-alanine is inhaled, eaten, or touched.
Avoid in children and in pregnant or breastfeeding women, due to lack of safety data.
Beta-alanine may cause eye irritation, lung irritation, a pins-and-needles sensation, skin flushing and irritation, and stomach irritation.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Avoid in pregnant or breastfeeding women, due to a lack of safety data.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.
Interactions with Drugs
Beta-alanine may interact with impotence agents (agents that improve sexual performance), vasodilators (agents that widen blood vessels), and vigabatrin.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Beta-alanine may react with agents that enhance exercise performance, aphrodisiacs, creatine, taurine, and vasodilators (agents that widen blood vessels).
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
- Deldicque L and Francaux M. Functional food for exercise performance: fact or foe? Curr Opin.Clin Nutr Metab Care 2008;11(6):774-781. View Abstract
- Derave W, Ozdemir MS, Harris RC, et al. beta-Alanine supplementation augments muscle carnosine content and attenuates fatigue during repeated isokinetic contraction bouts in trained sprinters. J Appl.Physiol 2007;103(5):1736-1743. View Abstract
- Dunnett M and Harris RC. Influence of oral beta-alanine and L-histidine supplementation on the carnosine content of the gluteus medius. Equine Vet.J Suppl 1999;30:499-504. View Abstract
- Hill CA, Harris RC, Kim HJ, et al. Influence of beta-alanine supplementation on skeletal muscle carnosine concentrations and high intensity cycling capacity. Amino.Acids 2007;32(2):225-233. View Abstract
- Hoffman JR, Ratamess NA, Faigenbaum AD, at al. Short-duration beta-alanine supplementation increases training volume and reduces subjective feelings of fatigue in college football players. Nutr Res 2008;28(1):31-35. View Abstract
- Hoffman J, Ratamess NA, Ross R, et al. Beta-alanine and the hormonal response to exercise. Int J Sports Med 2008;29(12):952-958. View Abstract
- Kendrick IP, Harris RC, Kim HJ, et al. The effects of 10 weeks of resistance training combined with beta-alanine supplementation on whole body strength, force production, muscular endurance and body composition. Amino.Acids 2008;34(4):547-554. View Abstract
- Kendrick IP, Kim HJ, Harris RC, et al. The effect of 4 weeks beta-alanine supplementation and isokinetic training on carnosine concentrations in type I and II human skeletal muscle fibres. Eur J Appl.Physiol 2009;106(1):131-138. View Abstract
- Stellingwerff T, Boit MK, and Res PT. Nutritional strategies to optimize training and racing in middle-distance athletes. J Sports Sci 2007;25 Suppl 1:S17-S28. View Abstract
- Stout JR, Cramer JT, Mielke M, et al. Effects of twenty-eight days of beta-alanine and creatine monohydrate supplementation on the physical working capacity at neuromuscular fatigue threshold. J Strength Cond.Res 2006;20(4):928-931. View Abstract
- Stout JR, Cramer JT, Zoeller RF, et al. Effects of beta-alanine supplementation on the onset of neuromuscular fatigue and ventilatory threshold in women. Amino.Acids 2007;32(3):381-386. View Abstract
- Stout JR, Graves BS, Smith AE, et al. The effect of beta-alanine supplementation on neuromuscular fatigue in elderly (55-92 Years): a double-blind randomized study. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2008;5:21. View Abstract
- Tipton KD, Jeukendrup AE, and Hespel P. Nutrition for the sprinter. J Sports Sci 2007;25 Suppl 1:S5-15. View Abstract
- Van Gennip AH, Abeling NG, Vreken P, et al. Inborn errors of pyrimidine degradation: clinical, biochemical and molecular aspects. J Inherit.Metab Dis 1997;20(2):203-213. View Abstract
- Van Thienen R, Van Proeyen K, Vanden Eynde B, et al. Beta-alanine improves sprint performance in endurance cycling. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2009;41(4):898-903. View Abstract
Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.