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Beta-alanine is a beta amino acid and is a precursor of carnosine. Carnosine is a peptide (small protein) concentrated in muscle and brain tissue which regulates key aspects of cell metabolism and may offer exciting antiaging and energy-enhancement benefits. But because it is a protein, carnosine supplements would be broken down in the stomach. As the the rate-limiting precursor of carnosine (production is limited by the amount of available beta-alanine), people use beta-alanine supplements to support optimal carnosine production.
The health benefits of beta-alanine pertain to carnosine. Carnosine has antioxidant activity and inhibits a process called glycation, which is implicated in many of the degenerative processes of aging. But the most exciting thing about carnosine for athletes is the role it plays as an acid buffer within muscle cells. That can translate into major boosts in stamina and energy. Pre-workout formulas are beginning to include beta-alanine in their formulas for this reason.
For best results, stay well-hydrated while using beta-alanine supplements. Read and follow label directions. Check with a doctor or pharmacist before combining beta-alanine with prescription medications.
Some people experience a mild, harmless tingling sensation when first using beta-alanine.
1. J Appl Physiol. 2007 Nov;103(5):1736-43. Epub 2007 Aug 9.