beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) supplementation in humans is safe and may decrease cardiovascular risk factors

J Nutr. 2000 Aug;130(8):1937-45. doi: 10.1093/jn/130.8.1937.


The leucine metabolite, beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) enhances the effects of exercise on muscle size and strength. Although several reports in animals and humans indicate that HMB is safe, quantitative safety data in humans have not been reported definitively. The objective of this work was to summarize safety data collected in nine studies in which humans were fed 3 g HMB/d. The studies were from 3 to 8 wk in duration, included both males and females, young and old, exercising or nonexercising. Organ and tissue function was assessed by blood chemistry and hematology; subtle effects on emotional perception were measured with an emotional profile test (Circumplex), and tolerance of HMB was assessed with a battery of 32 health-related questions. HMB did not adversely affect any surrogate marker of tissue health and function. The Circumplex emotion profile indicated that HMB significantly decreased (improved) one indicator of negative mood (Unactivated Unpleasant Affect category, P < 0.05). No untoward effects of HMB were indicated. Compared with the placebo, HMB supplementation resulted in a net decrease in total cholesterol (5.8%, P < 0.03), a decrease in LDL cholesterol (7.3%, P < 0.01) and a decrease in systolic blood pressure (4.4 mm Hg, P < 0.05). These effects of HMB on surrogate markers of cardiovascular health could result in a decrease in the risk of heart attack and stroke. In conclusion, the objective data collected across nine experiments indicate that HMB can be taken safely as an ergogenic aid for exercise and that objective measures of health and perception of well-being are generally enhanced.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Dietary Supplements* / adverse effects
  • Drug Evaluation
  • Emotions / drug effects
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Function Tests
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance
  • Random Allocation
  • Risk Factors
  • Valerates / adverse effects
  • Valerates / pharmacology*


  • Biomarkers
  • Valerates
  • beta-hydroxyisovaleric acid