Have you ever taken a pre-workout supplement containing beta-alanine and felt an intense itching or tingling on your skin? You’re not alone. Beta-alanine is known to cause paresthesia, an itching or tingling sensation, particularly when taken in high doses. But have you ever wondered why this happens? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the science behind why beta-alanine causes an itching sensation and explore what this means for athletes and fitness enthusiasts looking to use this popular dietary supplement to enhance their performance.
What is Beta-Alanine?
Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid naturally produced in the body and can also be obtained through dietary sources like meat, poultry, and fish. When consumed, beta-alanine is converted into carnosine, a dipeptide found in muscle tissue that helps buffer lactic acid and delay muscle fatigue during high-intensity exercise.
Beta-alanine supplementation has become increasingly popular among athletes and fitness enthusiasts to improve endurance and exercise performance and reduce muscle fatigue and soreness. However, it can also cause an itching or tingling sensation on the skin, particularly when taken in high doses.
Here’s a breakdown of the reasons why beta-alanine causes an itching sensation:
- Nerve stimulation: Beta-alanine stimulates nerve endings in the skin, which can cause a tingling or itching sensation.
- Dose-dependent effect: The severity of the itching sensation is dose-dependent, meaning that higher doses of beta-alanine are more likely to cause a stronger sensation.
- Individual sensitivity: Some people are more sensitive to beta-alanine’s effects than others, making them more likely to experience an itching sensation.
- Absorption rate: The rate at which beta-alanine is absorbed into the bloodstream can also affect the intensity of the itching sensation. Taking smaller doses of beta-alanine throughout the day can help reduce the itching sensation’s severity.
- Supplement formulation: The formulation of the beta-alanine supplement can also affect the likelihood and severity of the itching sensation. Some supplements may contain other ingredients exacerbate the itching sensation or slow beta-alanine absorption.
The biggest question is, why does beta-alanine cause an itching sensation? By understanding the reasons behind the itching sensation caused by beta-alanine, athletes and fitness enthusiasts can make informed decisions about using this supplement to enhance their performance while minimizing unwanted side effects.
Apart from the itching sensation, there are multiple benefits of beta-alanine:
- Increased muscle endurance: Beta-alanine is a precursor to carnosine, a dipeptide found in muscle tissue that helps to buffer lactic acid and delay muscle fatigue. By increasing muscle carnosine levels, beta-alanine supplementation can improve endurance during high-intensity exercise.
- Improved exercise performance: By delaying fatigue and improving endurance, beta-alanine supplementation can also enhance exercise performance, particularly during short, high-intensity exercises like weight lifting and sprinting.
- Reduced muscle soreness: Beta-alanine may also help to reduce muscle soreness and damage caused by intense exercise. This is because carnosine helps to buffer the acidity in muscles, which can lead to soreness and damage.
- Increased lean body mass: Some research suggests that beta-alanine supplementation may also lead to increased lean body mass over time, particularly when combined with resistance training.
- Enhanced cognitive function: Some studies have found that beta-alanine supplementation may improve cognitive function, particularly in older adults.