Orotic Acid -- A Better Beta Alanine?

For well over decade, beta alanine has been known as the premier endurance boosting compound used by athletes to last longer and beat back the burn. The problem for many is that beta alanine often comes a somewhat unpleasant side effect at higher doses -- parathesia, a.k.a. the tingles.

 

While beta alanine is often lauded for its ability to increase stamina, far too often, athletes and lifters alike avoid it simply due to the discomfort it brings. However, there is another remarkable compound that’s rarely discussed, yet just as effective as beta alanine and yields the same benefits.

 

We’re talking about orotic acid. This mighty little compound brings all the benefits of beta alanine, and then some, without those nasty tingles.

 

Let’s see what this ingredient is all about!

 

What is Orotic Acid?

 

Orotic Acid (pyrimidinecarboxylic acid) is a heterocyclic compound (cyclic compound whose ring contains at least two different elements) produced in the body via the enzyme, dihydroorotate dehydrogenase. It’s also an intermediate in the pyrimidine pathway, which is responsible for creating nucleotides (DNA / RNA), this will come into play later on, so remember this!

 

Orotic acid is also found prevalently in cow’s milk and quite frequently used as a mineral carrier in dietary supplements where it serves to enhance a compound’s bioavailability, for example lithium orotate.

 

What does Orotic Acid do?

 

Orotic Acid first broke onto the supplement scene in the early 2000s, but was studied back in the 1960s where it was first considered as an ergogenic aid for exercise and performance. Modern research has identified that orotic acid works to enhance athletic performance via two different mechanisms.

 

ATP Production

Orotic Acid aids in the production of ATP, the cell’s primary energy currency. An athlete’s ability to maintain a high level of performance is ultimately determined by his / her ability to regenerate ATP quickly so their muscles can continue to fire at maximum output.

Orotic acid increases ATP production in three distinct ways. First, orotic acid enhances the amount of ribose-5-phosphate, a molecule important for energy production, leading to elevated ATP regeneration. Secondly, orotic acid increases the pool of Uridine Monophosphate (UMP) which spares ATP from being used to create various nucleotides; this ultimately leaves more ATP available to produce energy and be used in metabolic processes pertinent to performance. Finally, orotic Acid also supports the production of elevated glycogen stores from anaerobic glycolysis, which subsequently improves an athlete’s ability to regenerate ATP during exercise.[2] In fact, some research indicates that orotic acid boosts ATP by as much as 121% in muscle tissue![3]

 

Increases Carnosine

Many of you familiar with the manner in which beta alanine boosts endurance is via increasing carnosine stores. As you may recall, carnosine is a powerful intracellular buffer that prevents acidic ions (H+ in particular) from accumulating, thereby dropping the pH in your muscles, which ultimately inhibits your muscles ability to continually contract and relax. By offsetting this drop in pH, carnosine is able to increase your muscles’ ability to continually perform at a high level.

Orotic acid works much the same way as beta alanine, in that it is just as effective, if not moreso, as beta alanine when it comes to increasing muscle carnosine levels. You might be wondering “if beta alanine can increase carnosine concentrations, why both with orotic acid?”

During intense exercise, large amounts of beta alanine are recruited by the body to repair RNA rather than synthesize carnosine, meaning the beta alanine you’re taking might not actually be elevating your carnosine levels as much as you think. Orotic acid however has been shown to significantly increase carnosine levels in the body, with one study dramatic increases in carnosine after just 4 weeks of use.

     

    Now, let’s take a look at two key studies that highlight orotic acid’s performance enhancing benefits.

     

    Orotic Acid & Performance

     

    One of the primary reasons orotic acid gained popularity was due to two great studies conducted in humans which demonstrated the performance-boosting qualities of the compound.

     

    Study #1

    The first study involved a group of coronary heart disease patients consuming 3g of magnesium orotate daily for a period of four weeks. Researchers documented exercise capacity and key biochemical markers that influence muscle growth and recovery. At the end of the 4 weeks, researchers noted that supplementation with orotate increased patients therapy exercise duration by 21%.[4]

    Study #2

    The second human study is even more applicable to hard training individuals as this one was conducted on triathletes. Test subjects consumed either placebo or 3g of magnesium orotate per day and had their performance in swimming, running, and cycling monitored. At the end of the trial, all subjects using orotate had dramatically improved performance and reduced markers of exercise-induced stress (i.e. cortisol and leukocyte count).[5]

      How Much?

      Research has yet to identify an “optimal” human dose of orotic acid, but typically users see results when using the ingredient at doses ranging from 500 - 1000mg. Additionally, since orotic acid is often packaged along with another compound, such as creatine orotate or beta alanine orotate, you’ll see positive results with about 3g of the bonded compound.

       

      Takeaway

      Beta alanine may get all the press as the ultimate endurance-boosting compound, but in truth, orotic acid performs just as well, if not better than beta alanine does. The advantage to orotic acid is that it get “sidetracked” into repairing RNA. It’s solely focused on increasing muscle glycogen, ATP levels, and muscle carnosine, which ultimately makes you a better athlete. If you’re using beta alanine, but still plagued by substandard stamina, you may want to give orotic acid a shot, and make sure you’re also supplementing with creatine too, as that will further enhance your ability to substantially regenerate ATP for even greater performance and more muscle gains!

       

      References


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