Imagine feeling mentally sharp and focused, with reduced anxiety and improved memory recall. Some studies have suggested these are just a few potential benefits that may come from beta-alanine supplementation. While beta-alanine is primarily known for improving athletic performance, recent research has suggested that it may also have cognitive benefits.
What is Beta-Alanine?
Beta-Alanine is a non-essential amino acid that is naturally produced in the liver. It is also found in foods such as poultry, beef, and fish. Beta-alanine is a popular dietary supplement among athletes and fitness enthusiasts due to its potential to enhance exercise performance by reducing muscle fatigue. When ingested, beta-alanine is converted to carnosine, which is stored in muscle tissue and acts as a buffer to reduce acidity levels and delay fatigue during high-intensity exercise.
Beta-alanine supplementation has also been linked to potential cognitive benefits, such as improved mental focus and reduced anxiety. However, there are also potential risks associated with beta-alanine supplementation, such as skin flushing and gastrointestinal distress, as well as potential interactions with certain medications. Why does beta-alanine cause an itching sensation?
Beta-alanine causes an itching sensation due to the activation of nerve fibers in the skin called C-fibers. Beta-alanine is converted into carnosine, which is stored in muscle tissue and acts as a buffer to regulate pH levels during exercise. However, carnosine cannot be directly supplemented, and beta-alanine is used as a precursor to increasing its levels in the muscle. As beta-alanine is ingested, it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and transported to muscle tissue. In the muscle tissue, beta-alanine combines with histidine to form carnosine.
The increased levels of carnosine in the muscle tissue may lead to increased levels of hydrogen ions produced during high-intensity exercise. Hydrogen ions contribute to muscle fatigue by lowering the pH level, making the environment more acidic. Carnosine helps to counteract this effect by acting as a buffer, preventing the pH level from dropping too much.
Current research on the potential cognitive benefits of beta-alanine supplementation
Recent research has suggested that beta-alanine supplementation may have potential cognitive benefits. Specifically, it has been suggested that beta-alanine supplementation may improve cognitive function and reduce anxiety.
One study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior found that participants who took beta-alanine supplements for four weeks experienced improvements in cognitive function, including improved memory and attention. Another study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that participants who took beta-alanine supplements for eight weeks had reduced levels of anxiety and improved mood.
It is believed that beta-alanine supplementation may have these cognitive benefits because it increases levels of carnosine in the brain. Carnosine has been shown to have antioxidant and neuroprotective properties, which may help to improve cognitive function and reduce anxiety.
While these studies are promising, more research is needed to fully understand the potential cognitive benefits of beta-alanine supplementation. Additionally, it is important to note that excessive beta-alanine supplementation may lead to negative side effects, such as skin flushing and gastrointestinal distress, as well as potential interactions with certain medications. As with any supplement, it is important to speak with a healthcare professional before beginning beta-alanine supplementation.