Clayton's Health Facts: L-Alanine.

Clayton South, SPN (ISSA), is a recognized expert in the bodybuilding / fitness industry with over 150 bodybuilding, fitness and nutrition publications to his credit.
1. What is it and where does it come from?

L-alanine is a non-essential amino acid. It is an organic amino acid due to the presence of a carbon atom in its makeup. Alanine is found primarily in poultry, beef, pork and fish. Almost all animal based protein sources are rich in alanine. The contraction of muscle results in increased alanine levels within the body.

2. What does it do and what scientific studies give evidence to support this?

As an amino acid, alanine is used by the body as a building block of protein. Alanine plays a major role in transferring nitrogen from tissue sites in the body, to the liver. Alanine is also used by the body to draw upon blood sugar as an energy source.1

3. Who needs it and what are some symptoms of deficiency?

Everyone. Because alanine is used by the body to draw upon blood sugar as an energy source, it may prove useful for bodybuilders and other athletes who are attempting to reduce body fat levels. For the same reason, individuals who are obese or overweight may benefit by using a supplement containing alanine. Individuals suffering from hypertension may benefit from supplemental alanine. When used in conjunction with arginine and glycine it has been demonstrated that an overall reduction in arterial plaque may result.

Diabetics, or individuals suffering from insulin insensitivity, may benefit from supplementing with alanine. Alanine has been shown to be important for the regulation of insulin.2 Alanine is also known to contribute to prostate health. For this reason, elderly males may benefit from its use.

4. How much should be taken? Are there any side effects?

No side effects have been reported, although as with any amino-acid, overdose is a possibility. Individuals suffering from diabetes, prostatitis or hypertension should consult a qualified medical practitioner prior to the use of supplemental L-alanine. Follow the directions as prescribed on the products label.

5. Where can I get it?

There are many different brand names that manufacture supplemental l-alanine.

References

1. Rennie, Michael J. (1999). Physical Exertion, Amino Acid and Protein Metabolism, and Protein Requirements. Protein and Amino Acids. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. pp. 243-253

2. L. Brennan, A. Shine, C. Hewage, J.P.G. Malthouse, K.M. Brindle, N. McClenaghan, P.R. Flatt and P. Newsholme. (2002) "A NMR based demonstration of substantial oxidative L-alanine metabolism and L-alanine enhanced glucose metabolism in a clonal pancreatic b-cell line - Metabolism of L-alanine is important to the regulation of insulin secretion." Diabetes, 51, 1714