Friday, December 9, 2011

Does beta-alanine work for older people? by Jerry Brainum

Beta-alanine (BA) is a precursor for the synthesis of carnosine in muscle.In muscle, carnosine acts to blunt the fatigue induced by high intensity exercise by buffering against acid build-up in muscle. Previous studies show that by supplementing with BA, younger subjects could increase their muscle carnosine levels by 64%, While exercise alone is known to boost muscle carnosine levels, various studies show that ingesting BA increases muscle carnosine levels more then just exercise alone does. The usual suggested dose for BA is 3.2 to 6.4 grams a day in divided doses. The only side effect thus far known to occur is a tingling feeling similar to a niacin-style flush. This can be avoided by either ingesting smaller doses (800 milligrams or less) or using a time-released BA, which releases BA in a more gradual fashion.
    While BA works well for younger subjects, it's effects in an older population until recently wasn't known. But a new study did test the effects of BA in subjects with an age range of 60 to 80. The subjects consisted of 10 women and 4 men, all of whom ingested either 3.2 grams of BA daily, or a placebo for 12 weeks. The BA was taken as two, 800 milligram tablets in a time-released form twice a day. Others received a placebo. The results after 12 weeks showed that those in the BA group showed an 85.4% increase of carnosine in the gastrocnemius muscle, compared to only 7.2% increase in the placebo group. More importantly, those who ingested the genuine BA showed significant improvements in several performance tests. In one test that looked at time to exhaustion, the BA group showed a 36.5% gain over baseline compared to the 8.6% gain showed in the placebo group. Other tests showed similar improvements in the BA group that were all significantly greater compared to those in the placebo group.
    Based on these findings, it's clear that BA is an effective supplement for older people. In fact, based on the findings of this study, BA appears to work better in older people than it does in those who are younger.This isn't surprising, since carnosine levels in the body decline with age. Not only that, but the higher carnosine levels produced by the BA supplementation could also provide anti-aging effects through inhibiting a process known as glycation, where protein tissues react with sugar. This process is a prime suspect in the stiffness and lack of mobility associated with aging. Thus, BA may not only boost exercise performance in older people, but may also provide some significant anti-aging effects.

del Favero, S, et al. Beta-alanine(Carnosyn) supplementation in elderly subjects (60-80 years): effects on muscle carnosine content and physical capacity.Amino acids;2011: in press.

©,2011 Jerry Brainum.Any reprinting in any type of media, including electronic and foreign is expressly prohibited.

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                                                         Carnosine structure

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