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By Jillian Levy, CHHC
June 8, 2019
Alanine, also called L-alanine or alpha-alanine (α-alanine), is among the 11 “non-essential” amino acids that your body is capable of synthesizing on its own.
What is L-alanine good for?
It aids in many metabolic processes and provides energy for your muscles, brain and central nervous system. Some of the conditions this amino acid can help treat include fatigue, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), liver disease, high cholesterol, enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hypertrophy) and many others.
What Is Alanine?
Alanine is anon-essential amino acidthat the body can produce from other amino acids, without needing to acquire it from food sources. It’s usually found in high levels in the bloodstream of most people and is one of the most concentrated amino acids in protein foods.
Among all amino acids, it is one of the most widely used for protein construction. It is considered aglucogenic amino acid and issynthesized from pyruvate and branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), including valine,leucine andisoleucine.
What does alanine do for your body? What is the alanine function? Some of the most important functions include:
- Playing a role in converting sugar (glucose) into energy — it is involved in the glucose-alanine cycle, which takes place between tissues and the liver
- Processing B vitamins
- Breaking down tryptophan and vitamin B6
- Helping with acid metabolism
- Increasing immunity
- Facilitating the metabolism of tryptophan
- Forming carnosine, anserine and of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5)
- Providing the brain and central nervous system with energy
- Helping build and repair muscle tissue
- Helping the liver to detoxify the blood
- Protecting cells from oxidative damage
- Helping maintain normal cholesterol levels
L-Alanine vs. Beta-Alanine
L-alanine is somewhat different than beta-alanine (β-alanine).Beta-alanine is a modified version of the amino acid and a substrate of carnosine, which has been shown to help prevent fatigue during high-intensity exercise.
Studies show thatcarnosine acts as a buffer to prevent muscle cells from becoming acidic, thereby decreasing muscle fatigue during exercise. This is whyβ-alanine is fast becoming a popular aid in sports performance. A typical daily dose of beta-alanine is between four to six grams daily, taken in divided doses two to three times daily for a period of about two weeks. One thing to be aware of is that it can cause a tingling sensation of the skin or itchy lips, which is generally harmless and temporary.
1. Can Help the Body Use Glucose (Sugar)
Alanine is sometimes used to manage blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, since it plays a role in helping the body use glucoseand preventing low blood sugar (also called hypoglycemia). The liver absorbs it and converts it into pyruvate. This process is important for regulating the use of glucose and blood sugar management.
2. Helps Maintain Healthy Cholesterol Levels
There’s evidence that this amino acid can have a natural cholesterol-lowering effect, especially when used in combination with other amino acids like arginine and glycine.These three are commonly included in amino acid compound tablets. In some studies, daily intake levels of alanine between 200 milligrams and 600 milligrams daily have been shown to be effective for cholesterol management.
3. Provides Energy During Periods of Fasting
As a glucogenic amino acid, alanine can be converted in the liver by the catalytic action of glutamate-pyruvate transaminase (GPT) (also known as alanine transaminase). Alanine plays a role in the conversion of glucose in the liver so it can be taken up by the muscles and used for energy, including during periods of fasting/calorie restriction when muscle proteins can be broken down. This means that consuming enough levels of this amino acid may help halt muscle wasting.
4. May Help Enhance Physical Performance and Build Muscle
This non-essential amino acid serves as an important source of energy for muscles and the central nervous system. The liver can convert L-alanine into glucose as needed for muscle fuel, including during exercise.
Because it is used to construct proteins and build muscle mass, it can support physical performance and recovery. Athletes who train at high intensity levels sometimes supplement with this amino acid to provide their muscles with fuel and support protein biosynthesis. It may also be helpful for preventing fatigue and supporting higher endurance/stamina. Another benefit when it comes to staying active is that it can help support physical fitness among those susceptible to cardiovascular diseases.
5. Supports Prostate Health
One part of the body that has high concentrations of this particular amino acid is prostate fluid. Alanine may help protect the prostate gland from enlargement and reduce pain associated with prostate problems, such as pain during urination, pain due to swelling and symptoms caused by prostate cancer. Some studies have also found thatit provides protection from pro-inflammatory cytokine-induced apoptosisand enhances antioxidant generation in cells.
Deficiency Symptoms and Causes
Because it is non-essential, alanine deficiency is extremely rare, as most people’s bodies will synthesize enough. However, people who are very active, ill and/or stressed; who eat low-protein diets; or who are malnourished may benefit from supplementing with this amino acid to prevent symptoms of deficiency. Adults with liver disease or diabetes may also be susceptible to having low levels, in which case supplements of this amino acid might be helpful.
Some signs and symptoms of low alanine levels can include:
- Poor endurance and strength
- Weakness and muscle atrophy (shrinkage)
- Dizziness and faintness due to fluctuating blood sugar levels
- Changes in appetite
Foods and Supplements
Even though your body can make the alanine that it needs, it’s still beneficial to get additional non-essential amino acids from food sources.
What foods contain alanine?
It is found in a wide variety of protein foods. The top foods with this non-essential amino acids include:
- Poultry like chicken and turkey
- Grass-fed beef and meats
- Protein powders
- Fish and seafood
- Soybean products (like tempeh, organic edamame, etc.)
- Legumes and beans
- Whole grains like wheat germ, quinoa, rice, buckwheat, oats, etc.
In supplement form, it is commonly sold as a free-form, powdered amino acid. Alanine uses in supplement form include treating conditions like prostate pain, fatigue, low blood sugar and high cholesterol. In some cases doctors use intravenous alanine to treat certain health conditions.
Amino acids like this one are available as single amino acids or in combinations. Some multvitamins and food supplements contain all 20 essential and non-essential amino acids.Protein powder supplements like whey protein, collagen protein, hemp protein, pea protein or brown rice protein offer most or all essential amino acids that your body needs.
How to Take and Dosage
In powder form, the suggested use of alanine is between 1.1 to 2.3 grams (about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon) daily, taken between meals or as recommended by your health care professional.
Doses between 20 to 40 grams per day are safely used to help manage blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, such as by preventing very low blood sugar due to too much insulin. If treating other conditions,, such as high cholesterol, it’s best to work with a health care provider to determine the best dose.
Below are healthy recipes containing a good amount of protein and therefore alanine and other amino acids:
- Protein Shake Recipes
- Slow Cooker Beef Stew Recipe
- Blackened Salmon Recipe with Creamy Avocado Dressing
- Cajun Blackened Chicken Recipe
- Turmeric Eggs
Risks and Side Effects
L-alanine supplements have the potential to increase blood sugar levels, which can be problematic for people with diabetes if their blood sugar levels are already normal or too high. Anyone with diabetes should work with their doctor to monitor their blood sugar levels before taking alanine supplements.
Always read dosage directions carefully when starting any new supplement, including amino acids. Taking high doses of amino acids can possibly cause digestive issues, skin itchiness and tingling, and be hard for the kidneys and liver to process.
- Alanine is a non-essential amino acid, which means your body is capable of producing the alanine you need from other amino acids. While eating certain foods isn’t required to get the bare amount you need, higher intakes may offer some benefits.
- Alanine functions include converting sugar (glucose) into energy, building and repairing muscle tissue, helping the liver detoxify the blood, protecting cells from oxidative damage, helping maintain normal cholesterol levels, forming proteins and enzymes, and more.
- Benefits of consuming more alanine may include helping the body use glucose, helping lower cholesterol, supporting maintenance of muscle mass, enhancing physical performance, supplying the body with energy during periods of fasting and supporting prostate health.
- Eating a well-balanced, healthy diet that includes enough protein foods like meat, fish, poultry, eggs, legumes, wheat germ, whole grains and yeasts will provide you with alanine.
Which amino acids reduce cholesterol? ›
Sulfur-containing amino acids (SAAs) are recognized to be some of the most potent modulators of lipid metabolism among amino acids. It has been demonstrated that SAAs have an increasing effect on HDL (high-density lipoprotein)-cholesterol and a decreasing effect on VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein)-cholesterol.Are there side effects to HMB supplements? ›
Supplementing with HMB at a dose of 3 grams per day appears to be well tolerated and is not associated with any adverse side effects.Does HMB actually work? ›
Studies have linked HMB to various health benefits, such as improved exercise adaptations, reduced muscle loss, better exercise recovery, and more. It may also increase muscle growth in untrained individuals and older people.What are the benefits of taking HMB? ›
Daily HMB supplementation (typically 3 g/day) is demonstrated to have an anti-catabolic effect, enhance protein synthesis, attenuate proteolysis, increase muscle mass, and decrease muscle damage in older adults [20,24,25].What is the best protein for cholesterol? ›
A number of studies suggest that replacing high fat meats with more heart-healthy proteins like fish, beans, poultry, nuts, and low fat dairy might help prevent heart disease. The nutrients in these forms of protein can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure and help you maintain a healthy weight.Which supplement is best for cholesterol? ›
- Red yeast rice.
- Omega-3 fatty acids.
- Green tea.
- Risks and side effects.
Conclusion: These data indicate that 8 wk of HMB supplementation (< or = 76 mg x kg(-1) x d(-1)) during resistance training had no adverse affects on hepatic enzyme function, lipid profile, renal function, or the immune system.Does HMB affect blood pressure? ›
No untoward effects of HMB were indicated. Compared with the placebo, HMB supplementation resulted in a net decrease in total cholesterol (5.8%, P < 0.03), a decrease in LDL cholesterol (7.3%, P < 0.01) and a decrease in systolic blood pressure (4.4 mm Hg, P < 0.05).Does HMB make you gain weight? ›
The authors of the review concluded: systematic review and meta-analysis showed that HMB supplementation during resistance exercise training may result in a small increase in body weight but does not result in a significant enhancement of gains in free fat mass or losses of fat mass.Is HMB like a steroid? ›
It does impact recovery from exercise, and perhaps muscle growth directly, but you wouldn't expect an amino acid metabolite to have steroid-like effects. However, a couple recent studies have, in fact, shown that HMB works better than steroids for building muscle. That raises some red flags.
How long does it take to see results from HMB? ›
How Long Does It Take HMB To Work? Measurable increases in strength and muscle mass may be seen in 2-4 weeks.What effects does HMB have on the brain? ›
Nevertheless, this study showed that HMB at the dose typically used for body composition and muscle performance improved brain functionality, namely working memory, which is an important function to be preserved during aging.Does HMB lower cholesterol? ›
It was also found that HMB supplementation resulted in a net decrease in total cholesterol (5.8%), a decrease in systolic blood pressure (4.4 mm Hg), and a decrease in LDL-C (7.3%).Is HMB good for older adults? ›
Clinical trials performed in older adults confirm that HMB can attenuate the progression of sarcopenia in elderly subjects. HMB supplementation results in an increase in skeletal muscle mass and strength in the elderly and its effect is even greater when combined with physical exercise.Is HMB better than steroids? ›
Studies show that people using steroids and lifting weights will gain around 10 to 16 pounds of muscle over 12 weeks, the same time period used in this study. The average is closer to 10 pounds, which means that in this study, HMB appeared to be more effective than steroids.What reduces cholesterol quickly? ›
Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Soluble fiber is found in such foods as oatmeal, kidney beans, Brussels sprouts, apples and pears. Add whey protein. Whey protein, which is found in dairy products, may account for many of the health benefits attributed to dairy.What reduces cholesterol quickly naturally? ›
Oatmeal, oat bran and high-fiber foods
Soluble fiber is also found in such foods as kidney beans, Brussels sprouts, apples and pears. Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Five to 10 grams or more of soluble fiber a day decreases your LDL cholesterol.
While coffee does not contain cholesterol, it can affect cholesterol levels. The diterpenes in coffee suppress the body's production of substances involved in cholesterol breakdown, causing cholesterol to increase. Specifically, coffee diterpenes may cause an increase in total cholesterol and LDL levels.What vitamin removes cholesterol from the body? ›
Niacin has long been used to lower triglycerides and to increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. This "good" cholesterol helps remove low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the "bad" cholesterol, from the bloodstream.What vitamins remove plaque from arteries? ›
HDL, on the other hand, helps protect against heart disease. Niacin, or Vitamin B3, is the best agent known to raise blood levels of HDL, which helps remove cholesterol deposits from the artery walls.
What vitamins break down cholesterol? ›
Niacin is a B vitamin. Doctors sometimes suggest it for patients with high cholesterol or heart concerns. It increases the level of good cholesterol and reduces triglycerides, another fat that can clog arteries. You can get niacin from foods, especially liver and chicken, or from supplements.Does HMB damage your liver? ›
We found that HMB decreased proteolysis in muscles of partially hepatectomized animals and increased DNA content and DNA fragmentation in the remnant of regenerating liver. 12 These findings indicate that HMB may affect not only muscle protein balance, but also the repair of injured liver.Does HMB increase testosterone? ›
Conclusion. The results indicate that HMB supplementation in athletes can reduce the concentration of cortisol in resistance exercises and increase the concentration of testosterone in aerobic and anaerobic combined exercises.What foods contain the most HMB? ›
HMB is a metabolite of the branched-chain amino acid leucine. Depending on the diet, the can body produce 0.3 to 1 gram of HMB per day in muscle tissue (9). It is found in both plants and animals and is particularly concentrated in alfalfa, corn silage, grapefruit and catfish.Is HMB good for heart? ›
HMB is used for increasing the benefits from weight training and exercise; and for treating diseases of the heart and blood vessels (cardiovascular disease), high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.Is HMB toxic? ›
Studies in humans and animals provide evidence that there are no adverse effects associated with HMB supplementation.What is the best HMB brand? ›
- Overall Best HMB Supplement: Nutricost HMB. ...
- Runner-Up Best HMB Supplement: Optimum Nutrition HMB. ...
- Best Budget HMB Supplement: Double Wood Supplements HMB. ...
- Best Beginner HMB Supplement: NutraKey HMB. ...
- Best Powder HMB Supplement: BulkSupplements HMB Powder. ...
- Best HMB Supplement For Muscle Gain: Transparent Labs HMB + Creatine.
β-Hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate (HMB) supplementation and resistance exercise significantly reduce abdominal adiposity in healthy elderly men.Does HMB affect prostate? ›
Although the results of HMB supplementation decrease proteolysis, and increase the cross-sectional diameter of the muscle by systemic anabolic pathways, the prostate is also susceptible to these changes by the same stimulations, resulting in increased prostate and morphofunctional changes.Does HMB raise blood sugar? ›
In young men, HMB significantly reduced the insulin area-under-the-curve (AUC), with no difference in glucose AUC, resulting in a numerical increase in the Cederholm index of insulin sensitivity. In older men, HMB had no effect on insulin or glucose responses.
Is HMB a banned substance? ›
As a supplement, it is legal. Supplementation with HMB may increase muscle strength and mass.
We strongly recommend taking HMB every day. If you take HMB daily for the duration of your cut, you give your muscle tissue the most protection you possibly can from breakdown. Over several weeks of a cutting phase, daily HMB use can save you several percentage points of lean muscle mass.Is HMB worth bodybuilding? ›
In fact, if gains in the gym after 50 are what you are after, then HMB is not only an essential supplement for your fitness routine, but a must have. Incorporating 3 grams of HMB per day may promote lean muscle mass from your sweat session and ultimately support against age related muscle loss.How can I get HMB naturally? ›
Scientists estimate that a 150lb human can make 0.2 to 0.4 g of HMB per day, depending on how much leucine comes into the body from diet. One way to ensure the body produces enough HMB is to eat leucine rich foods, such as meat and dairy products. Alternatively, it is possible to take a supplement that contains HMB.How much vitamin D should you take with HMB? ›
Dosing and Delivery Timing
Decades of research have shown that the ideal dosage of HMB is 3 grams daily. Additionally, supplementation of Vitamin D3 at a minimum of 500 IU each day is the required amount to maintain blood levels in the optimal range for healthy muscles.
This short-term study suggests that HMB supplementation may have anti-inflammatory and anticatabolic effect and improve pulmonary function in COPD patients in an intensive care unit setting.What removes cholesterol from cells? ›
HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein. It is sometimes called "good" cholesterol because it carries cholesterol from other parts of your body back to your liver. Your liver then removes the cholesterol from your body.