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What is Alanine?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 10 December 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Alanine is a nonessential amino acid that can help the body convert glucose into energy. Also known as l-alanine, the amino acid also helps the liver process and eliminate various types of toxins from the body. These functions help to slow the process of using muscle protein in order to fuel the body, as well as aid in keeping blood glucose levels within a healthy range.

The body manufactures alanine by identifying the presence of any excess amino acids in the tissues or cells and transferring those acids to a receptor molecule that is known as pyruvate. Pyruvate is created when glucose is broken down in the body. The infusion of these excess amino acids into the pyruvate results in the production of alanine that is then moved into the liver. The liver in turn breaks down this amino acide and makes use of the nitrogen content to create more pyruvate and repeat the production cycle. Any excess nitrogen is expelled from the liver, taking along any toxins that are currently present.

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Because the body is capable of manufacturing its own supply of alanine, the amino acid is considered nonessential, in terms of the need to supply the acid by means of ingesting food or some type of supplement. However, this nonessential status is based on the normal operation of the body, including the normal processing of glucose in the blood. In situations where the body’s ability to produce and make use of alanine is impaired, supplementation can help restore a normal balance, and make it easier to maintain healthy glucose levels, as well as support the function of the liver.

Supplementation of this nonessential amino acid may be necessary for people who suffer from various types of health problems. Along with helping diabetics maintain healthy blood glucose levels, those recovering from eating disorders or some type of liver disease may find that taking in extra alanine is helpful. People with low energy levels, such as those who suffer with Epstein-Barr syndrome or chronic fatigue syndrome, may also find that additional alanine helps to minimize the constant sense of being tired.

Fortunately, there are a number of foods that contain varying amounts of alanine. Fish is an excellent example, as is a number of different types of red meat and pork. Many dairy products, as well as eggs and poultry, also contain significant amounts of this nonessential amino acid. Avocados are also a good source when it has been determined that supplementation would be in the best interests of the individual.

Before starting to use supplements, it is important to consult a physician. This is especially true if there is some type of kidney or liver problem present. Introducing excessive amounts of nitrogen into the body can make it difficult for those organs to manage toxins and waste efficiently.

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