Facts and Food Sources of Alanine


Alanine (either of two amino acids L-alanine or alpha-alanine) is a constituent of proteins. Silk fibroin is a rich source of L-alanine from which amino acid was isolated firstly in 1879. It is one of various nonessential amino acids for mammals and birds which mean they could synthesize it from pyruvic acid and does not require dietary sources. Beta alanine or D-alanine is not found in proteins but naturally occurs in two peptides anserine and carnosine, found in mammalian muscle. It is a substantial constituent of vitamin pantothenic acid. It has chemical formula CH3CH(NH2)COOH.

It is a simple amino acid in terms of molecular structure and most widely found in protein. L-isomer in humans is the only form which involves in protein synthesis and is one of the twenty amino acids which is needed for normal functions. It is regarded as non-essential since it should not be taken with diet but could be synthesized from other compounds through chemical reactions by human body. GCU, GCA, GCC and GCG are its codons. D-Alanine occurs in some peptide antibiotics and bacterial cell walls.

Dietary Sources of Alanine

Food name Weight (g) Alanine (g)
Turkey 863 15
Spirulina 112 5
Soybeans 186 3
Kielbasa 370 2
Tuna 146 2
Lupins 180 2
Adzuki 197 2
Cottonseed 149 2
Hyacinth beans 210 2
Mungo beans 207 2
Mackerel fish 146 2
Sorghum 192 1
Millet 200 1
Kidney beans 184 1
Winged beans 182 1
Navy beans 208 1
Yardlong beans 167 1
Black beans 194 1
Striped bass 124 1
Butternut 120 1


Health Benefits of Alanine

Here are some health benefits of Alanine:

  1. Improves performance

Beta-alanine is shown to improve exercise power and capacity but not performance. It is effective for exercise which lasts from 30 seconds to 10 minutes. Outcome varies due to athletic condition of subject and type of exercise or sport tested. Beta-alanine promotes short lasting or high intensity exercise. Moreover, beta-alanine promotes resistance training volume or performance for athletes who play in team sports that promotes game performance. Other study conducted on 25 female soccer players shows that beta-alanine promotes repeated sprinting, endurance and jumping. Other study shows that beta-alanine does not promote repetitive sprint performance in athletes. Moreover, athletes experienced improvement in both high intensity training and athletic performance. It improved resistance training performance or volume in team sports. It improved speed during 50 m casualty carry exercise and enhanced cognitive performance under stress. It did not improved sprinting, running or marksmanship.

  1. Promote muscle mass

Study shows that beta-alanine enhanced oxygen intake or ventilator threshold, stamina, endurance and lean body mass. 8-week study conducted on 44 women resulted that beta-alanine lowered body fat and increased fat-free mass or overall body mass.

  1. Lowers fatigue

Beta-alanine slows down fatigue and exhaustion. It promotes high intensity exercise which lasts more than a minute. It lowers acid build-up during high-intensity anaerobic performance that slows fatigue. Four week study on 14 male students shows that beta-alanine lowered muscle acid during high intensity cycling. Improvement in individual widely varies.

  1. Reduce anxiety

Beta-alanine enhances carnosine or serotonin in brain. Carnosine lowers anxiety in rodents. It promotes anti-anxiety molecule brain deprived neurotrophic factor which is diminished in rodents with PTSD. It lowers anxiety by maintaining normal concentration of this molecule. It also lowers PTSD like behavior. It improved PTSD behavior and maintained normal levels of BDNF in rats.

  1. Cognitive function

Beta-alanine enhanced cognitive function during combat practice. Other study conducted on 19 athletes and 20 elite soldiers shows that it did not improved brain function under normal and stressful conditions.

  1. Reduce tumor

It lowers tumor function or aggressiveness in breast cancer cells. It assists chemotherapeutic doxorubicin combat tumors. It reduces tumor cell growth in colon and rectal tumor cells.

  1. Slows aging

Beta-alanine is beneficial for elderly patients and shown to improve exercise capacity after taking beta-alanine for 3 months. In old mice, it promotes leg muscle function. It forms molecule carnosine in muscles. It lowers aging associated stress in old rats. This stress damage cells and enhance the risk of age related chronic disease. In old mice, epigallocatechin gallate and beta-alanine enhanced lifespan.

Too Much Beta-Alanine

High consumption of alanine causes flushed feeling related to hot flashes. It also commonly causes unpleasant itching or burning on ears or scalp. The worst case is nausea.







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