Alanine is synthesized in muscle tissue from branched chain amino acids. It helps regulate blood sugar levels and chronic deficiencies may lead to muscle loss and poor glucose tolerance. Alanine is the major amino acid utilized by the liver for gluconeogenesis under normal conditions.
Alanine is present in prostate fluid, and it may play a role in supporting prostate health. In one study of men with benign prostatic hyperplasia, it was found that 780 mg of alanine per day for two weeks and then 390 mg for the next two and a half months, taken together in combination with equal amounts of glycine and glutamic acid reduced the symptoms.
Alanine comes from the breakdown of DNA or the dipeptides, anserine and carnosine, and the conversion of pyruvate, a compound in carbohydrate metabolism
Sources of alanine
As with the other amino acids, excellent sources of alanine include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products.
Some protein-rich plant foods like avocado also supply alanine.
Benefits of alanine
It is required for the metabolism of glucose and tryptophan and beta-alanine is a constituent of vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) as well as coenzyme A. It has also demonstrated a cholesterol-reducing effect in rats.
People suffering from Epstein Barr (also sometimes referred to as glandular fever) as well as chronic fatigue syndrome; have been linked to excessively high levels of alanine while having low levels of tyrosine and phenylalanine.
Alanine plays a major role in the transfer of nitrogen from peripheral tissue to the liver. It aids in the metabolism of glucose, a simple carbohydrate that the body uses for energy.
It also guards against the buildup of toxic substances that are released in the muscle cells when muscle protein is broken down to quickly meet energy needs, such as happens with aerobic exercise.
Research has found that for people with insulin-dependent diabetes, taking an oral dose of L-alanine can be more effective than a conventional bedtime snack in preventing nighttime hypoglycemia.
Deficiency symptoms of alanine
As alanine is synthesized in the body so deficiency of alanine is unknown. It may occur in people whose diet is greatly deficient in proteins.
Deficiencies of alanine have been found in patients with hypoglycemia, diabetes, and alcohol-induced hepatitis.
Symptoms of high intake
Alanine does not have any side effects, but people with kidney or liver disease should not consume high intakes of amino acids without consulting a health care professional.
High levels of alanine, along with low levels of tyrosine and phenylalanine, have been associated with the Epstein-Barr virus and chronic fatigue syndrome.
When more is needed
People on low protein diet may require extra supplements of alanine.
Most people do not need to supplement with alanine since it is well provided for in the diet, and can be synthesized from pyruvic acid (formed in the breakdown of carbohydrates).
People on a very low protein diet, could be at risk of a deficiency.
Most people do not need to supplement with alanine; for those who do use this amino acid as a supplement, appropriate amounts should be determined with the consultation of a physician.