Alanine is an amino acid that helps the body to convert glucose, a simple sugar, into energy and also helps the body to eliminate excess toxins from the liver. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Alanine is a non-essential amino acid, meaning that a healthy body is able to make its own supply of this substance as well as obtaining it through the diet.
Alanine is used for the following things:
• as a source of energy for muscle tissue, the brain, and central nervous system
• strengthening the immune system by producing antibodies
• helping in the metabolism of sugars and organic acids
• produces energy by stimulating glucagon secretions from the pancreas and is linked to glycogen released from the liver
• in the case of hypoglycaemia, alanine has been used as a source for the production of glucose in order to stabilise blood sugar levels over lengthy periods
• guards against the buildup of toxic substances that are released in the muscle cells when muscle protein is broken down quickly to meet energy needs (such as in aerobic exercise)
• aids in the metabolism of glucose
• is required for the metabolism of tryptophan
• plays a major role in the transfer of nitrogen from peripheral tissue to the liver
Dietary sources of alanine include:
Some protein rich plant foods such as avocado also supply alanine.
Because alanine can be made by the body, deficiency of alanine is rare. However, it may occur in people that have a diet that is highly deficient in protein. Alanine does not have any side effects but people that suffer from kidney or liver disease should not take high amounts of amino acids without first consulting a health care professional. People on a low protein diet may require extra supplements of alanine.