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What Are Alanine Supplements?

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  • Written By: Wanda Marie Thibodeaux
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 23 November 2016
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Alanine supplements are dietary aides thought to improve a person's muscle strength and endurance. The primary ingredient, alanine, is a nonessential amino acid found naturally in the body connected to protein building and function. The way alanine works has led to the supplements being popular among fitness professionals and body builders, although some side effects might occur with use.

The primary function of alanine supplements is to assist in the formation of carnosine. This substance is a dipeptide of the amino acids beta-alanine and histidine. One reason why caronsine is so important is because it lowers levels of lactic acid in the muscles following exercise. Lactic acid is a biproduct of muscle metabolism that is responsible for muscle soreness, so a practical translation of the use of alanine supplements is less post-exercise pain.

Another reason why people take alanine supplements is because carnosine helps generate nitric oxide, which widens the blood vessels in the body slightly. With the blood vessels a little more open, it is much easier for blood to flow and for oxygen and nutrients to get to the muscles that are working or which need some repair. Subsequently, people can exercise more aggressively or for a longer period of time.

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The ability of carnosine to raise a person's lactate threshold and assist with circulation has led to alanine supplements showing marked improvement of a person's physical endurance and strength. Although a person might be able to work harder and longer in the gym and thereby increase muscle mass due to the benefits of carnosine, alanine supplements are designed as performance aides, not as a straight way to bulk up. This gives the supplements a broader spectrum of use compared to other types of fitness products, such as lessening frailty among seniors.

People can take alanine supplements as capsules, tablets or powder. Capsules and tablets tend to be better for people on the go, such as those who work out at a gym. For people who exercise at home, or who have trouble swallowing pills, a powder is the better choice. In powder form, alanine is easy to mix with drinks and smoothies and thus often is more palatable.

No matter how a person opts to take alanine supplements, dosing should not exceed 0.018 ounces (500 milligrams). This equates to a little less than one level teaspoon of alanine powder. Up to three doses per day are acceptable, however, depending on the needs and goals of the individual.

Some side effects are known to occur with alanine supplements, although they do not happen in all people. Individuals sometimes report a mild tingling sensation, also known as paraesthesia. Gastric upset and vomiting also are possible, as is dizziness. The possibility of experiencing these side effects means that anyone who wants to use alanine should consult their doctor first and consider any other medications they might be on.

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