Vitamins, Minerals and Dietary Supplements
What is alanine? Why do we need it?
Alanine is a nonessential amino acid found in prostate fluid. It is used by the body to build proteins, and plays a role in the metabolism of several substances, including tryptophan and pyridoxine. It was discovered in 1875.
Because alanine is present in prostate fluid, some scientists have speculated that it plays a role in the health and well-being of the prostate gland. Research has found that supplements of alanine, taken in conjunction with glycine and glutamic acid, can reduce symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (a precursor to prostate disease) in middle-aged men. Animal studies have shown that it can reduce cholesterol levels in rats, but these studies have yet to be duplicated in humans.
How much alanine should I take?
Because alanine is synthesized by the body and available in most foods that contain protein, most people do not need to take alanine supplements. People on very low-protein diets may require additional doses, however.
What forms of alanine are available?
Alanine can be found in a variety of protein-rich foods, including meat, chicken, fish, eggs and other dietary products. Protein-rich fruits and vegetables such as avocado are also good sources.
What can happen if I take too much alanine? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?
Most people who take alanine supplements or foods rich in alanine do not suffer any side-effects; however, people with kidney or liver disease should not consume high amounts of alanine or other amino acids without consulting a licensed health care provider. As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions with alanine. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking alanine or any other dietary supplement or herbal remedy.
- Battezzati AF, Caumo A, Regalia A, et al. Glutamine and alanine kinetics in humans: role of the liver. Diabetes May 1, 2000.
- Davies DD (ed.) Anaerobic metabolism and the production of organic acids. The Biochemistry of Plants, vol. 2. New York: Academic Press, 1980; pp 581-611.
- Kwak EJ, Lim SI. The effect of sugar, amino acid, metal ion, and NaCl on model Maillard reaction under pH control. Amino Acids August 2004;27(1):85-90.
- Pratt PW. Laboratory Procedures for Veterinary Technicians, 3rd ed. Philadelphia: Mosby, 1996; pp. 98-99.
- Zello G, Wykes LF, Ball RO, et al. Recent advances in methods of assessing dietary amino acid requirements for adult humans. Journal of Nutrition 1995;125:2907-15.