Background: Ageing is associated with a significant reduction in skeletal muscle carnosine which has been linked with a reduction in the buffering capacity of muscle and in theory, may increase the rate of fatigue during exercise. Supplementing beta-alanine has been shown to significantly increase skeletal muscle carnosine. The purpose of this study, therefore, was to examine the effects of ninety days of beta-alanine supplementation on the physical working capacity at the fatigue threshold (PWCFT) in elderly men and women.
Methods: Using a double-blind placebo controlled design, twenty-six men (n = 9) and women (n = 17) (age +/- SD = 72.8 +/- 11.1 yrs) were randomly assigned to either beta-alanine (BA: 800 mg x 3 per day; n = 12; CarnoSyntrade mark) or Placebo (PL; n = 14) group. Before (pre) and after (post) the supplementation period, participants performed a discontinuous cycle ergometry test to determine the PWCFT.
Results: Significant increases in PWCFT (28.6%) from pre- to post-supplementation were found for the BA treatment group (p < 0.05), but no change was observed with PL treatment. These findings suggest that ninety days of BA supplementation may increase physical working capacity by delaying the onset of neuromuscular fatigue in elderly men and women.
Conclusion: We suggest that BA supplementation, by improving intracellular pH control, improves muscle endurance in the elderly. This, we believe, could have importance in the prevention of falls, and the maintenance of health and independent living in elderly men and women.