What does beta-alanine do? Does it increase nitric oxide?

by Erik Tremblay

Believe it or not, beta-alanine actually has nothing to do with nitric oxide production or vasodilation and the tingle you feel- no matter how many times you've heard it, it's  not from "your blood vessels opening".  Although this may be disappointing to many, it certainly does not take away from it's performance enhancing abilities.

What Does it Do?

Beta-alanine is a unique compound as it's the beta form of the amino acid L-alanine. This means the NH3+ group on the amino acid is bonded to the beta carbon and not the alpha carbon, allowing it to serve different functions than regular L-alanine. Muscle tissue utilizes bet-alanine by combining it with L-histidine to form carnosine, a compound that buffers (neutralizes) acids. When undergoing strenuous exercise, cellular pH tends to become more acidic due to byproducts formed by the process of making ATP. The more readily available beta-alanine you have before exercise, the more carnosine your body will be able produce while working out. The longer you can keep your cellular pH in normal range, the longer you'll delay fatigue.

Should it Be taken Pre-Workout?

Many will say no, it should just me regimented daily-however we don't exactly agree with that here at CAT5. Beta-alanine can be utilized by the body for many tasks, and your body will more likely utilize it for carnosine production when it is needed, during a workout when cellular pH is becoming acidic. By supplementing before a workout, your body will have absorbed it by the time carnosine is needed. Most significant research has also supplemented beta-alanine before a workout.

Why does beta-alanine make me tingle?

A common harmless side effect of doses of Beta Alanine is paresthesia, which is tingling and itching of the skin. It is believed this is cause due to Beta Alanine’s interaction with where it binds to in the body. The compound binds to MrgprD receptors in the body, which are a type of G-protein coupled receptors. These receptors are known to play an essential role in mediating itch signals in the body, which is why it is believed this is a side effect, but is completely harmless (and lets you know its working!)

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