Beta Alanine is a non-proteinogenic amino acid, which means it is not used by the body to produce protein. It is best known as the limiting ingredient in the body's production of carnosine, and supplementation with beta alanine is the best way to increase cellular carnosine levels. Carnosine is a substance made up of beta alanine and amino acid histidine, which is best known as a buffer in muscle cells. Excercise causes acid to build up in the cells, which is thought to be one of the major contributing factors to muscle fatigue. By mopping up excess acid, molecules like carnosine can help the muscles work more powerfully, for longer. In addition, carnosine is a powerful antioxidant.
Beta alanine supplementation is the best way to increase cellular carnosine levels. It is a widely studied supplement which repeatedly demonstrates benefits for strength athletes, and those performing high intensity exercise of short to medium duration.
Beta Alanine Side Effects - Tingling and Itching
Beta alanine is notorious for producing a tingling or itching sensation on the skin. This most commonly affects the skin on the face and head, but is also common on the hands, feet and abdomen. This pins-and-needles like effect is properly known as 'parasthaesia', and while the exact cause remains unknown, it is suspected to be due to the beta alanine molecules interacting with nerve endings. Although parasthesia is known to be harmless, some people find it to be painful, irritating or distressing.
This side effect is temporary, lasting at most two hours, and is associated with large doses of beta alanine. Parasthesia can be avoided by breaking beta alanine doses into multiple portions and taking these throughout the day, or by using a slow-release product.
Beta Alanine Side Effects - Nausea
Another commonly reported side effect of beta alanine supplementation is nausea. There has not been any official study of this phenomenon, and the cause is unknown, although irritation of the gastric lining is a likely cause. Like parasthesia, this is generally associated with larger doses, and for a lot of people, can be eliminated by taking a greater number of smaller doses, or by using a slow-release product. Nausea is also more prevalent in people who take beta alanine on an empty stomach, and combining the dose with a shake or meal is often successful in preventing this symptom.
Beta Alanine Side Effects - Sleep
Users of beta alanine occasionally report insomnia. This is not a common side effect and it has not been investigated in a scientific setting. Beta alanine does not have any known stimulant properties, and it is consumed on a daily basis by many people, in the form of carnosine or anserine, in foods like chicken and fish, without provoking sleep distrubances.
As beta alanine is present as a main ingredient in a number of pre-workout formulations, which is a class of supplement that frequently includes substances with stimulant properties, it is possible that users who claim to experience insomnia are misattributing the stimulant effects of other ingredients in the the pre-workout formula to beta alanine.
Beta Alanine Side Effects - Acne
Many people have questioned whether or not beta alanine can cause acne. There is no evidence for this being the case. Stimulants, such those commonly present in pre-workouts have been known to cause an increase acne in some people, as have testosterone boosting supplements like tribulus. In addition, some people are sensitive to dairy products, and whey or casein protein may cause their skin to break out. It is worth considering these other options as the cause of acne if beta alanine is used as part of a stack or supplement regime.
Beta Alanine Side Effects
The side effects of beta alanine are mild and easy to manage for the vast majority of people. When choosing a supplement, it is wise to look for the name 'CarnoSyn', which is the patented trade name of beta alanine that has been licensed for use as a human dietary supplement. This guarantees that the product you are using has been subject to stringent quality control checks, ensuring it is pure and minimising the chance of any unknown side effects.