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Amino Acids May Help Boost Brain Alertness

Amino acids supplements are primarily taken for workouts, but they may also help with brain function. A recent study suggests that taking a supplement containing L-theanine, beta-alanine, and theacrine may help increase brain alertness.


Participants in the study included 24 young adults, half male and half female, between the ages of 18 and 35. They were divided into three groups: one supplement dose, two supplement doses, or a placebo. All of the supplements were mixed in 440 mL of liquid. The researchers conducted electroencephalography tests on the participants at the beginning of the study after a five minute rest; during an attention-switching task; during a 30 minute rest period after consuming their drink; and during an attention-switching task after ingesting an intervention disk.


The attention-switching task consisted of 144 trials in which the participants pressed a space bar if certain numbers or colors appeared on the screen. Electroencephalography is a test that uses a hairnet-like cap that records brain waves.


At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted improved brain activity after supplementation, when compared with the first reading. The researchers suggest that the change in upper-alpha wave inhibition may be a sign that these supplements are “ideal” for enhancing mental focus, concentration, and energy.


Researchers from Auburn University led the study. It was published online ahead of print on March 13, 2018, in the Journal of Dietary Supplements.


L-theanine is an amino acid found in tea and it is believed to help reduce stress, promote relaxation and improve the quality of sleep.


Beta-alanine is an amino acid that previous studies have found may help build lean muscle mass, improve physical function in general, and improve physical function in the elderly. It can primarily be found in meats but the most effective way to consume beta-alanine is in a supplement form.

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