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Does Alanine Prolong Stamina in Horses?

Updated: May 8

Alanine is found in high concentrations in most muscle tissue and is grouped with nonessential amino acids because it can be manufactured by the body. Alanine is involved in an important biochemical process during an exercise called the "glucose-alanine cycle."

In the muscle, when glycogen stores are broken down to glucose and then to a three-carbon molecule called pyruvate, some of the pyruvates are used directly for energy by the muscles. However, pyruvate is converted to alanine, which is transported through the bloodstream and to the liver, where it is made back to glucose. The glucose is then transported back to the muscle and used for energy.

The glucose-alanine cycle serves to conserve some of the energy in the form of carbohydrates through this recycling process. Veterinarian physiologists believe that this helps maintain glucose levels during prolonged exercise. In this way, alanine may be useful in the same way as branched-chain amino acids- to help diminish muscle tissue breakdown during exercise and to spare the liver's glycogen. Supplementing alanine alongside branched-chain amino acids may give your performance horse much better stamina.

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