Beta-Alanine Itch: 3 Best Ways to Prevent It

Beta-alanine is an amino acid that combines with histidine to make carnosine in muscles and organs. During exercise, carnosine helps to neutralize lactic acid in the muscles, decreasing fatigue. Beta-alanine supplements are popular for their exercise-related benefits; however, beta-alanine itch is an unpleasant side effect some people experience.

Common ways to prevent beta-alanine itch include taking divided doses, using a slow-release formula, or using a multi-ingredient supplement, all of which we review in this article.

Why does beta-alanine make you itch?

Beta-alanine itch refers to paresthesia which is a tingling, itching, or “pins and needles” sensation that can occur in the neck, shoulders, arms, back of hands, ears, and tongue.

It is thought that beta-alanine activates G-protein coupled receptors which send signals to nerves in the skin, causing paresthesia (1, 2).

Paresthesia usually begins around 15 minutes after consuming beta-alanine and resolves within 1 hour, though it may sometimes last longer.

While paresthesia has not been shown to be harmful (3), most people prefer to avoid it.

How to prevent beta-alanine itch

Beta-alanine itch can be prevented through methods that allow gradual uptake of beta-alanine throughout the day rather than exposing the body to a full dose at once. The following options are shown to minimize or completely prevent paresthesia from beta-alanine:

1. Smaller divided doses

  • 800 mg or less per dose taken every 3-4 hours (total of 5-7 doses per day) is most likely to prevent beta-alanine itch
  • 10-20 mg/kg body weight or 800-1600 mg per dose has also been recommended, though doses over 800 mg are more likely to initiate the effect (1, 4)

2. Sustained-release formula

  • Sustained release formulas are created to be gradually digested and absorbed over several hours which helps prevent paresthesia (5)
  • SRCarnoSyn® is a patented brand of sustained-release beta-alanine that is free of banned substances and many supplement brands include it in their formulas

3. Multiple-ingredient pre-workout supplement

  • A product that contains several ingredients may be digested and absorbed more slowly than a product that only contains beta-alanine which may help prevent paresthesia

What is the recommended dosage?

The recommended dose of beta-alanine is 4-6 g/day (4000-6000 mg/day).

The positive effects of beta-alanine are seen once the muscle has at least 90 g of beta-alanine stored, so daily supplementation, even on days you don’t train, is important to build up and maintain the amount (4, 6, 7).

3 Best Ways to Prevent Beta-Alanine Itch: 
1. Smaller divided doses:
Take 800 mg every 3-4 hours (total of 5-7 doses per day).
2. Sustained-release formula:
Formulated to be gradually digested and absorbed over several hours.
3. Multiple-ingredient pre-workout supplement:
Multiple ingredients may slow the digestion & absorption

Final thoughts

Beta-alanine supplementation may cause the mild itching and tingling sensation known as paresthesia. Smaller doses, sustained-release formulas, and multi-ingredient formulas may reduce or prevent beta-alanine itch for most people.

As usual, it may take some experimentation to find the right dose and timing for you, and it’s important to speak with a medical professional if you experience any unusual side effects.

Check out our articles on amino acid supplements, amino acid timing, and protein supplements for other options to include in addition to beta-alanine.

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Photo of Collette Sinnott, RD, LD

Collette is a registered dietitian and has over a decade of experience working with athletes, children & adults on tube feeding, and people with chronic health conditions. She has been writing about food and nutrition since she was in high school and has a passion for sharing evidence-based information, especially on the topics of protein and the importance of maintaining muscle mass for healthy aging.

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