is an amino acid that was discovered in 1875 and is one of the building blocks of protein that combines with histidine to help form carnosine. Alanine elevates carnosine concentration in muscles and is useful for anyone participating in sports which require explosive actions, for example sprinting, weight training or boxing. It also helps protect cells from being damaged during intense aerobic activity, when the body cannibalises muscle protein to help produce energy.
Alanine helps the body to convert glucose, a simple sugar, into energy and also helps the body to eliminate excess toxins from the liver. It also plays a role in protecting the prostate gland. In the liver, alanine can be transaminated with alpha ketoglutarate to produce glutamate.
One form of alanine, beta-alanine, is a constituent of vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) and coenzyme A, a vital catalyst and the most active metabolic enzyme in the human body. It operates in the body's cells and blood where it initiates hundreds of important processes. Coenzyme A is expended by the metabolic processes of the body and constantly needs replenishing.
Alanine is also required for the metabolism of tryptophan, another important amino acid, that serves as a precursor for, and raises levels of, serotonin a neurotransmitter that helps the body regulate appetite, sleep patterns and mood. Also around 3% of tryptophan gained from the diet is converted into vitamin B3 (niacin) by the liver and this is an important vitamin that helps to control blood sugar levels. People with diabetes are often lacking in vitamin B3.
CAUTION: Supplements of adenine should be avoided as the Epstein-Barr virus and chronic fatigue have been associated with excessive alanine levels and low levels of tyrosine and phenylalanine.