Optimizing human in vivo dosing and delivery of β-alanine supplements for muscle carnosine synthesis

Amino Acids. 2012 Jul;43(1):57-65. doi: 10.1007/s00726-012-1245-7. Epub 2012 Feb 23.


Interest into the effects of carnosine on cellular metabolism is rapidly expanding. The first study to demonstrate in humans that chronic β-alanine (BA) supplementation (~3-6 g BA/day for ~4 weeks) can result in significantly augmented muscle carnosine concentrations (>50%) was only recently published. BA supplementation is potentially poised for application beyond the niche exercise and performance-enhancement field and into other more clinical populations. When examining all BA supplementation studies that directly measure muscle carnosine (n=8), there is a significant linear correlation between total grams of BA consumed (of daily intake ranges of 1.6-6.4 g BA/day) versus both the relative and absolute increases in muscle carnosine. Supporting this, a recent dose-response study demonstrated a large linear dependency (R2=0.921) based on the total grams of BA consumed over 8 weeks. The pre-supplementation baseline carnosine or individual subjects' body weight (from 65 to 90 kg) does not appear to impact on subsequent carnosine synthesis from BA consumption. Once muscle carnosine is augmented, the washout is very slow (~2%/week). Recently, a slow-release BA tablet supplement has been developed showing a smaller peak plasma BA concentration and delayed time to peak, with no difference in the area under the curve compared to pure BA in solution. Further, this slow-release profile resulted in a reduced urinary BA loss and improved retention, while at the same time, eliciting minimal paraesthesia symptoms. However, our complete understanding of optimizing in vivo delivery and dosing of BA is still in its infancy. Thus, this review will clarify our current knowledge of BA supplementation to augment muscle carnosine as well as highlight future research questions on the regulatory points of control for muscle carnosine synthesis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carnosine / biosynthesis*
  • Carnosine / blood
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Horses
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • beta-Alanine / administration & dosage*
  • beta-Alanine / metabolism


  • beta-Alanine
  • Carnosine