β-alanine is a breakdown product of carnosine and anserine, which are dipeptides from meat consumption. Although β-alanine’s properties are limited, its relationship to carnosine makes it important. Both have antioxidant properties. And carnosine is critical for pH buffering in skeletal muscle during exercise, but its formation can be limited by enzymatic factors. For this reason, supplementation with β-alanine is sometimes used to enhance carnitine and therefore improve athletic performance.
In addition to diet and supplementation, β-alanine can also be endogenously produced. This occurs via degradation of uracil in the liver but it can also be made by intestinal bacteria such as E. coli. Since β-alanine comes from meat consumption, endogenous production is the only source in vegetarian and vegan populations. Given their limited diets, vegetarians and vegans have lower levels of β-alanine and muscle carnosine compared to omnivores. There is also an interesting interplay between taurine and β-alanine. Taurine and β-alanine share the same skeletal muscle transporter, whereby β-alanine can inhibit taurine’s uptake into muscle. Elevated beta-alanine can sometimes deplete taurine leading to oxidative stress, causing tissue damage. Additionally, these two amino acids compete for the same reabsorption transporters in the kidney. Elevated β-alanine can contribute to renal wasting of taurine.
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Levels may be elevated in meat consumption when dipeptides anserine and carnosine are elevated since they both contain β-alanine. Supplementation with β-alanine also results in elevated levels. Urinary beta-alanine excretion is associated with gut bacterial fermentation and elevated levels may indicate dysbiosis.
Elevated β-alanine can contribute to renal wasting of taurine give their unique relationship. The breakdown and metabolism of β-alanine requires vitamin B6-dependent enzymes. With that, a functional need for vitamin B6 can contribute to elevations. Lastly, there are very rare inborn errors of metabolism that can cause elevations of β-alanine.
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1-Methylhistidine, 3-Methylhistidine, a-Amino-N-butyric Acid, a-Aminoadipic Acid, Alanine, Arginine, Asparagine, Aspartic Acid, b-Alanine, b-Aminoisobutyric Acid, Citrulline, Cyst(e)ine, Cystathionine, Ethanolamine, g-Aminobutyric Acid, Glutamic Acid, Glutamine, Glycine, Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Ornithine, Phenylalanine, Phosphoethanolamine, Phosphoserine, Proline, Sarcosine, Serine, Taurine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Tyrosine, Urea, Valine