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Alanine is nonessential amino acid first isolated in 1879.  It is one of the 20 most common natural amino acids.  As a nonessential amino acid, it can be manufactured by the human body and synthesize from other cellular metabolites.  It does not need to be obtained directly through the diet.   Alanine is manufactured from other amino acids in the liver.  Its side chain is a non-polar, hydrophobic methyl group that is the second-smallest of the 20 after glycine.  The low reactivity of the amino acid permits silk, a protein which contains some 30% alanine, to have a simple, elongated structure with few cross-links.  Alanine is one of the simplest of the amino acids and is involved in the energy-producing breakdown of glucose.  L-alanine is created in muscle cells from glutamate in a process called transamination.   Alanine comes from the breakdown of DNA or the dipeptides, anserine and carnosine, and the conversion of pyruvate – a compound in carbohydrate metabolism, in the liver, alanine is transformed into pyruvate.


L-Alanine is found in a wide variety of foods, but is particularly concentrated in meats.  Good sources of L-Alanine include animal sources such as meat, seafood, caselnate, dairy products, eggs, fish, gelatin, lactalbumin.  Vegetarian sources include beans, nets, seeds, soy, whey, brewer’s yeast, brown rice, bran, corn, legumes, whole grains.


Alanine is used by the body to build proteins, thus being abundant in human muscle tissues.  It participates in the the biosynthesis of protein, contributing to the desirable features of fiber-strength, resistance to stretching, and flexibility.    Alanine is necessary for the promotion of proper blood glucose levels from dietary protein.  It is readily converted to glucose when blood sugar levels fall and amino acids are liberated from muscle tissue to provide energy.  During exercise the muscles release alanine into the bloodstream in direct proportion to the intensity of the exertion.  The alanine is then converted into glucose and released into the blood plasma.  Alanine is believed to help maintain blood sugar levels stable during exercise.  Glucose is a product released from alanine in the liver and muscles when energy is needed, and thus aiding to balance blood sugar levels.


Low levels of blood sugar have been linked with fatigue during exertion;  some experts believe alanine supplements enable athletes to exercise for longer periods of time at  competitive intensities.  Alanine stimulates lymphocyte production and may help people experiencing immune suppression.  Alanine also strengthens the immune system by producing antibodies.


The amino acid is known to be involved in the metabolism of the vitamin pyridoxine, and also typtophan.  Alanine is present in prostate fluid, and plays a role in supporting prostate health.


Most people do not need to supplement with alanine.  In case alanine supplementation is necessary for some patients, appropriate dosage should be determined with the consultation of a qualified physician.  Alanine is generally considered to be safe for most people.  However, people with kidney or liver disease should not consume high intakes of amino acids without consulting a healthcare professional.  Isolated alanine supplements are not recommended.


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