Beta alanine is a naturally occurring nonessential amino acid. This acid is considered integral for muscle building and repair. Produced in the body, the components of beta alanine can be absorbed through the consumption of protein-rich foods such as meat and fish. Supplements are also available to increase the amount available for use in the body. There are a number of effects of beta alanine, most related to physical enhancement.
The immediate effects of beta alanine can include vasodilation and paresthesia. Vasodilation results in an increased flow of blood and a decrease in blood pressure. Paresthesia, which produces a tingling feeling also known as "pins and needles," can occur approximately 15 minutes after oral consumption and can last up to 90 minutes. This sensation is caused by the binding of the beta alanine to the nerve receptors underneath the skin, which causes them to react.
If supplementation is continued, there are other, less immediate, effects of beta alanine. It helps to encourage an increase in muscular strength and delay the onset of muscle fatigue. Both anaerobic and aerobic endurance are reported to increase. Beta alanine is also thought to enhance the function of creatinine, resulting in an improvement in lean muscle mass and a decrease in overall percentage of body fat.
The effects of beta alanine are a result of the action of one of its main components, carosine. When the muscles are being used, glycolisis results in hydrogen ions being released from the produced lactic acid. These ions accumulate in the muscles, causing the pH to become acidic and decreasing muscle performance. The carosine, which is found naturally in muscle fibers, acts as a sponge, effectively absorbing the hydrogen ions. This subsequently decreases muscle fatigue.
Given these effects of beta alanine, supplements available in tablets, capsules, and powders are popularly consumed by people wanting to take advantage. Many weight lifters, bodybuilders, and athletes apparently use the supplements to enhance the effects of their training. They are used by both men and women and are supposed to be useful to individuals who are training but whose fitness has reached a plateau. A supplemental dose of beta alanine is considered to be 3.2 to 6.4 grams per day.
There are also few negative side effects associated with taking beta alanine. These are generally mild and include skin irritation and flushing. Due to this lack of serious side effects, they are considered to be a potentially useful supplement for elderly people, helping to delay neuromuscular fatigue and improve muscle endurance.