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21.05.2014


Beta-Alanine supplementation makes soldiers more deadly in combat

Alanine versus beta-alanine
Beta-Alanine supplements are not only useful for athletes. Scientists at the University of Central Florida discovered that soldiers function better too if they take beta-alanine. It helps them shoot sharper in combat situations.

Beta-Alanine
Beta-Alanine is an eccentric amino acid, found in small quantities in food, and also made in small quantities in the body. It's also different from L-alanine, a non-essential amino acid that the body can make by converting other amino acids. Alanine also goes by the name of alpha-alanine and if you want to be completely correct it's L-alpha-alanine.

When enzymes attach beta-alanine to histidine an amino acid that we consume in large quantities through our food the dipeptide carnosine is created.


Beta-Alanine supplementation makes soldiers more deadly in combat


Carnosine has a wide range of functions, one of which is to neutralise acids and maintain the body's pH balance. The more carnosine there is in your muscles, the longer you can keep up intensive exercise during which lactic acid is released. It takes longer for the lactic acid build up to get to the point where you can no longer contract your muscles.


Beta-Alanine supplementation makes soldiers more deadly in combat


Beta-Alanine supplementation is effective for intensive forms of continuous exercise that last longer than one minute but not longer than four minutes. Military operations also involve this kind of exertion, so the researchers were curious to know how soldiers would react to beta-alanine supplementation.

Study

To answer the question they did an experiment with 20 male soldiers from an elite unit in the Israel Defense Forces. The subjects were given 6 g beta-alanine daily for four weeks, or a placebo. Before and after the supplementation period the soldiers had to complete a trail that involved 4 km running, followed by five countermovement jumps, a 120-metre sprint, target shooting and finally mental arithmetic.

Results
The supplement had no effect on the sprint times. The soldiers that had taken beta-alanine [BA] did develop more power per kg bodyweight during the countermovement jumps than the soldiers that had been given a placebo [PL].


Beta-Alanine supplementation makes soldiers more deadly in combat


When the soldiers had to shoot after the sprint, the beta-alanine group scored more hits than the placebo group did. They also shot faster.


Beta-Alanine supplementation makes soldiers more deadly in combat


Beta-Alanine supplementation makes soldiers more deadly in combat


The supplement had no effect on the subjects' ability to do sums, but that may have been because the sums were very easy. If the arithmetic had been more difficult, the beta-alanine may have increased the subjects' cognitive capacity.

Conclusion
"This study demonstrated that beta-alanine ingestion for 4 weeks in young, healthy soldiers in an elite combat unit can enhance jump power performance, marksmanship and target engagement speed", the researchers write. "In consideration of the highly intense and fatiguing nature of sustained combat and prolonged military training, ingestion of beta-alanine does appear to provide specific benefits for military personnel."

Source:
J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2014 Apr 10;11(1):15.

More:
Beta-Alanine shaves four seconds off runners' 800 metres 17.03.2014
When is it worth taking beta-alanine? 25.03.2012
Beta-Alanine improves stamina in over-sixties 23.01.2012

Archives:
Beta-Alanine


Beta-Alanine improves cyclists' final sprint and time trial performance Supplementation with beta-alanine makes circuit training with weights more effective Beta-Alanine offers protection against post-traumatic stress disorder

Beta-Alanine improves cyclists' final sprint and time trial performance
Beta-Alanine improves performance during short intensive three-minute bursts, and also during intensive efforts lasting six minutes.

Supplementation with beta-alanine makes circuit training with weights more effective
f you are really a terrible nutritional nag, you will probably claim that beta-alanine is useless for strength athletes. 'According to the consensus, supplementation with beta-alanine is only effective during intensive efforts that last from 60 to 240 seconds', you will probably say.

Beta-Alanine offers protection against post-traumatic stress disorder
Jay Hoffman and Jeffrey Stout of the University of Central Florida suggest this in Amino Acids.