Beta-alanine, an amino acid, works together with another amino acid called histidine and contributes to the maintenance of normal muscle function during exercise. Taking supplemental beta-alanine can significantly increase this maintenance effect. In this double-blind, randomised study, 26 elderly men and women participated. Their fitness levels were tested, and then half took beta-alanine supplements for 90 days while half took a placebo. After the 90 days, their fitness levels were tested again. Sixty-seven percent of participants in the treatment group showed increases in their fitness levels, compared to 21.5% in the placebo group.
The research is significant because improving physical working capacity in the elderly is a growing concern. Currently, decreases in the ability to perform daily living tasks is associated with an increase in mortality, mainly due to the risk of falls. beta-alanine supplementation could have importance in the maintenance of health and independent living for elderly men and women.