The Best Supplements for Endurance

Branched-chain amino acids may help you exercise longer with less exertion.

Branched-chain amino acids may help you exercise longer with less exertion.

Powering through your average, demanding workday and still making time to keep up with household and recreational activities may seem like an endurance sport. Whether you are training to run a marathon or simply need stamina to keep up with your daily demands, your body needs endurance -- the ability to transport energy and oxygen to your brain and muscles -- to perform at the level you require. Although regular exercise is the key ingredient to developing endurance, certain supplements may offer a noticeable boost.


You might be able to avoid sore muscles that deplete your endurance by supplementing with beta-alanine, a naturally-occurring amino acid, according to a study published in the August 2012 issue of the "International Journal of Preventive Medicine." Beta-alanine decreased lactic acid accumulation and improved aerobic capacity in volunteers who took 400 milligrams per day for six weeks and performed endurance-cycling tests. Similarly, a commercial supplement cocktail containing a combination of caffeine, B-vitamins, amino acids, creatine and beta-alanine improved agility and reaction time and increased lower-body muscular endurance in a study in the March 2012 issue of the journal "Nutrition and Metabolism." Large doses of beta-alanine, greater than 10 milligrams per kilogram of body weight, may cause a mild, temporary "pins and needles" skin reaction that usually subsides within one to two hours.

Branched-chain Amino Acids

Branched-chain amino acids -- leucine, isoleucine and valine -- may keep you running longer or improve performance in your chosen endurance activity, according to Vanderbilt University. These amino acids comprise up to 35 percent of your muscle tissue. Researchers of a study published in the August 2006 issue of the "European Journal of Applied Physiology" found that six weeks of supplementation with leucine improved endurance and upper-body power in competitive canoeists. Participants were able to exercise an average of seven minutes longer and reported less perceived exertion. No side effects have been reported from the use of branched-chain amino acids. However, supplementing with branched-chain amino acids can alter the balance of certain other amino acids that may increase your risk for depression, according to CoxHealth. If you have kidney or liver disease, seek your doctor's guidance before supplementing with amino acids.


Carnitine, a substance your body produces that's also available as a supplement, assists in converting fats into energy. Carnitine promotes the use of triglycerides, which would otherwise go unused during exercise, making more glycogen available during endurance activities. Carnitine is also necessary for the production of energy by your cells. Doses of 3 grams per day can head off muscle soreness before it sets in, and up to 4 grams per day may improve performance in exhaustive exercise. Side effects are rare with carnitine use, according to Colorado State University, though high doses may lead to vomiting and diarrhea.

Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, a nutrient found in the mitochondria, energy-producing powerhouses within each of your cells, participates in energy production and also works as an antioxidant. CoQ10 helps to strengthen the heart, reduce elevated blood pressure and improve blood sugar management, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. In a laboratory animal study published in the February 2010 issue of the "Journal of Medicinal Food," four weeks of supplementation with 15 milligrams per kilogram of body weight of CoQ10 significantly increased the length of swim time before exhaustion in mice. CoQ10 supplementation also increased the amount of glycogen, a short-term storage form of glucose, in the liver. CoQ10 has been found safe, with no side effects at doses up to 1,200 milligrams per day for 16 months, notes the Linus Pauling Institute.


About the Author

Tracey Roizman, DC is a writer and speaker on natural and preventive health care and a practicing chiropractor. She also holds a B.S. in nutritional biochemistry.

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