Is beta-alanine safe?K
Beta-alanine is a very popular non-essential amino acid found in many pre-workout supplements. It’s associated with decreased fatigue and potentially, increased performance in several activities. Let’s take a look at some research on this supplement’s safety.
Is beta-alanine safe?
Paraesthesia is the most widely known side effect of beta-alanine. Paraesthesia is a burning, prickling, or itching sensation in the face, neck, hands, and other parts of the body. It’s sometimes referred to as a feeling of pins and needles. The feeling typically lasts 60-90 minutes following consumption and can be reduced with the use of sustained-release formulas or smaller doses. There is no evidence that this side effect is harmful1,2,3.
The International Society of Sports Nutrition suggests that “beta-alanine is safe in healthy individuals at recommended doses.” The agency recommends a dose of 4-6 grams per day divided into servings of 2 grams1.
In a 2014 review sponsored by the Department of Defense, researchers looked at 20 studies with over 200 participants. Aside from paraesthesia, which they noted was not a serious issue, they did not find any short or long term adverse effects associated with beta-alanine use3.
In a 2013 study of beta-alanine’s effect on older adults, researchers performed blood draws at various times to measure possible side effects. Out of 33 blood measures, none were outside of normal ranges after supplementing4.
Finally, in a risk assessment published by the European Journal of Nutrition & Food Safety, the authors could not find any data on adverse effects. They note that a daily dose of 6.4 grams per day for healthy adults weighing 175 pounds or 5.6 grams per day for those weighing 154 pounds did not produce any adverse effects5.
The Bottom Line
Other than skin tingling, which seems to be harmless, beta-alanine is safe. The studies looking into its safety have not found any concerning effects. Safe dosages for healthy adults range from 4-6 grams per day. If the skin tingling is an issue, decrease the dose to less than 800 mg per serving or use a slow-release formula.
- Trexler, E. T., Smith-Ryan, A. E., Stout, J. R., Hoffman, J. R., Wilborn, C. D., Sale, C., Antonio, J. (2015). International society of sports nutrition position stand: Beta-Alanine. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12(1). doi:10.1186/s12970-015-0090-y
- Paresthesia Information Page. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Paresthesia-Information-Page
- Ko, R., & Dog, T. (2014). Evidence-based evaluation of potential benefits and safety of beta-alanine supplementation for military personnel. Nutrition Reviews, 72(3), 217-225. doi:10.1111/nure.12087
- Mccormack, W. P., Stout, J. R., Emerson, N. S., Scanlon, T. C., Warren, A. M., Wells, A. J., . . . Hoffman, J. R. (2013). Oral nutritional supplement fortified with beta-alanine improves physical working capacity in older adults: A randomized, placebo-controlled study. Experimental Gerontology, 48(9), 933-939. doi:10.1016/j.exger.2013.06.003
- Løvik, M., Frøyland, L., Haugen, M., Henjum, S., Stea, T., Strand, T. A., & Holvik, K. (2018). Risk Assessment of “Other Substances”-Beta-Alanine. European Journal of Nutrition & Food Safety, 8(4), 336-338. doi:10.9734/EJNFS/2018/44970