Is BETA-ALANINE Safe?
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Beta-alanine is a modified version of the amino acid alanine, and has been shown to enhance muscular endurance. Many people report being able to perform one or two additional reps in the gym when training in sets of 8–15 repetitions, as a result of supplementing with Beta-Alanine. Beta-alanine supplementation can also improve moderate to high intensity cardiovascular exercise performances.
When beta-alanine is consumed, it turns into carnosine, which is stored in cells and released in response to drops in pH, and also acts as an acid buffer in the body.
Increased stores of carnosine can protect against diet-induced drops in pH, as well as offer protection from exercise induced lactic acid production. Large doses of beta-alanine may cause a harmless side effect tingling feeling called paresthesia.
Elderly persons, athletes and others use pure beta alanine supplements to enhance physical stamina, and it is still believed that this supplement may have additional benefits, such as fighting signs of aging.
Beta alanine supplement may also be used for bodybuilding, increasing lean muscle mass and improving workout efficiency. It may not directly promote muscle protein synthesis, but it can increase exercise capacity to support a muscle building program.
For most people, there are no beta alanine dangers, with the only common side effect being the short term tingling feeling called paresthesia. This condition is marked by feeling of numbness, coldness, itching and other similar sensations, and may manifest anywhere on the body.
It is normally felt on the skin of the hands, feet, legs or arms, and is known to be harmless. The symptoms are alike to one of your extremities falling asleep, and the resulting tingling feeling goes away naturally within a few minutes.
This type of paresthesia is called “transient paresthesia” as it is short-lived. Most supplement users experience this tingling, said it normally lasts about an hour and a half, then it goes away on its own, causing no cellular damage or subsequent sensations.
Surprisingly, some users consider this short-term paresthesia induced from beta alanine as a good sign that shows the supplement is working.
According to the Natural Medicines Database, beta alanine is rated as possibly safe for use in adults in doses up to 6.4 grams daily, as this amount has been used in clinical trials for up to 10 weeks with no recorded negative effect. In adults over 55 years of age, 2.4-gram doses have been used safely for as long as 3 months.
However, there is no research examining the effects of using pure beta alanine supplements in long-term applications, as the longest studies have been 12 weeks in duration for younger adults.
For the people over 55 years, some studies have lasted 90 days with no confrontational effects resulting from proper, oral beta alanine administration, with sole exception of paresthesia. Some health specialists express concerns because beta alanine has not been tested for longer time periods.
The NMCD states that there is currently no sufficient information concerning the safety of beta alanine usage in pregnant or nursing women, and as such, use in medicinal amounts is not recommended for these groups.
Research has shown that there is no specific short-term beta alanine dangers for the heart, even as the heart, as a muscle, also benefits from H+ buffering during periods of intense exercise. Increasing inner-heart carnosine helps to maintain proper pH and allows efficient performance.
But it is worth noting that, this supplement may not be appropriate for individuals using medications for high blood pressure and heart disease, as there is a risk of interaction that could result in excessively low blood pressure.
Beta alanine has been shown to increase NO (nitric oxide) levels in the blood, and Nitric Oxide is a vasodilator, meaning that Beta-Alanine indirectly promotes vasodilation.
Thus, as an indirect vasodilator, beta alanine may interact with certain medications used for treating hypertension (high blood pressure), erectile dysfunction and/or heart disease.
Beta-alanine is considered safe when appropriately taken orally for a short time, as no side effects have been reported with moderate doses of beta-alanine. High doses can cause transient paresthesia (flushing and tingling).
Special Precautions and Warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking beta-alanine if you are pregnant or breast-feeding, so it is recommended that you stay on the safe side and avoid use for people in this group.
How to Prevent Beta Alanine Side Effects
For those who do not want to experience transient paresthesia symptoms, research shows that taking smaller doses more often helps to prevent the tingling effect, since all things being equal, paresthesia results from beta alanine supplementation when more than 800 mg is taken in a single dose.
Thus, by limiting single dose amounts to 1.6 grams per day split into 2 – 3 administrations, paresthesia is most often avoided, with doses being taken every three hours to maximize its biologic availability.
There are also time-released beta alanine supplements that help to avoid paresthesia by controlling the amount of the compound entering the system at any one time, releasing it bit by bit.
Multiple human trials have shown that beta alanine is safe for short-term usage, at correct dosages, and there are no adverse effects associated with routine usage apart from transient paresthesia.
However, since no long-term human trials have been carried out, it is recommended that users take periodic breaks from supplementation, with supplementation periods lasting no longer than 12 weeks. This should hold until further clinical data is published.