Healthy Aging: Study suggests beta-alanine’s benefit in improving exercise in older adults

By Adi Menayang

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images / OJO Images
Getty Images / OJO Images
Researchers found that beta-alanine supplementation increased exercise capacity and inhibited declines in executive brain function caused by post-endurance exercise fatigue in study participants over the age of 50.

The report, written by researchers from the University at Buffalo, were published yesterday​ in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition​.

“These findings specifically reinforce that beta-alanine supplementation correlates with improved exercise performance with potential secondary effects leading to improved muscle strength, decreased fall risk and improved cardiovascular health,”​ they wrote.

Beta-alanine, a non-essential beta-amino acid that has been studied for its ability to raise muscle carnosine levels and in turn may increase the amount of work users can perform, is often found in powdered pre-workout supplement blends.

The authors of the present study argue that the amino acid may also be a useful tool in healthy aging.

“Aging is often associated with a reduction in one’s ability to exercise,”​ they wrote. “It has been previously shown that there is a direct relationship between sarcopenia ​[age-related muscle deterioration] onset and depleted systemic carnosine.”

Study details

Twelve healthy adults with the average age of around 60 years completed the study (eight men, four women).

Researchers randomized them into two groups receiving two different capsules each, a beta-alanine group receiving 2.4g per day of the amino acid or a placebo of microcrystalline cellulose. Both were provided by the Missouri-based chemical company Sigma-Aldrich. The supplementation period lasted 28 days.

The beta-alanine dose was divided into several 800 mg doses to avoid paresthesia, or the prickly sensation commonly felt on the face and extremities following ingestion of the amino acid.

Before and after supplementation, participants performed a cycling test. After the endurance workout, they performed an executive function test known as the Stroop Test, in which they had to identify words and colors.

Because of the small sample size, the researchers pressed that more investigations should be conducted to get a better picture of beta-alanine’s potential in healthy aging.

Source: Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition
Published online, https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-018-0238-7
“β-Alanine supplementation increased physical performance and improved executive function following endurance exercise in middle aged individuals”
Authors: Taylor Furst, et al.

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