Saturday, July 24, 2010

Beta-Alanine vs. L-Taurine: Study Establishes Inverse Relationship

Image 1: Beta alanine
It is not new that there exists an antagonistic relationship between muscle carnosine (M-Carn, which is increased via beta-alanine supplementation), on the one hand, and muscle taurine (M-Tau) levels on the other.  The study by Harris, (Harris. 2010) is however the first to report on the immediate effect of supplementing with 2x800mg of a time-released beta-alanine (structure, cf. image 1 on the right. HMDB v2.5) formula on muscle taurine content in seven male subjects after four weeks of daily supplementation. A realistic scenario as these dosages can be found both in stand-alone, as well as an kitchen-sink approach supplements such as NO-Xplode & Co:
Pre and post supplementation M-Carn was 25.9 ± 4.3 and 41.3 ± 5.5 dry muscle and M-Tau 28.1 ± 7.1 and 22.6 ± 7.0 dry muscle. Despite the 20% fall in M-Tau, values of M-Tau remained within the normal physiological range. Before supplementation M-Tau was negatively correlated with M-Carn, evidenced by subjects with the highest M-Carn having the lowest M-Tau, expressing a similar relationship to that reported earlier. The same negative relationship was preserved after b-Ala supplementation and during the 6 weeks recovery from supplementation (overall data: [M-Tau] = -0.634 · [M-Carn] + 46.6; r = 0.72; p<0.001; n = 28).
Image 2: Taurine
Two things are interesting here. Firstly, a daily dose of only 1.6g, i.e. far less than many supplement gurus suggest, was able to increase M-Carn by 37%. Secondly, the M-Tau levels stayed within the physiological range, which suggests that no negative side effects are to be expected at that dosage.

From personal experience, I do yet know that side effects like cramping and muscle ache are very real once you start taking several grams of beta-alanine per day.

 I, thus strongly suggest not to go overboard on beta-alanine, because I suspect higher daily doses (in the range of 5g+) would have resulted in a severe depletion of muscle taurine which would interfere with "the control of ionic flux", and taurines effect "effect on osmoregulation" (Di Pasquale. 2008. 311) and thus trigger exactly those undesirable side effects which asked me riddles, back in the day.