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Alpha Ketoglutarate (AKG)

Illustration

Alpha-ketoglutarate (AKG) is the nitrogen-free portion of the amino acids known as glutamine and glutamic acid. It is formed in the Krebs cycle, the energy-producing process that occurs in most body cells. AKG is used by cells during growth and in healing from injuries and other wounds,1 and is especially important in the healing of muscle tissue.2 A controlled study found that intravenous AKG prevented a decline in protein synthesis in the muscles of patients recovering from surgery.3 4 For these reasons, it has been speculated that oral AKG supplements might help improve strength or muscle-mass gains by weightlifters, but no research has been done to test this theory.

Where is it found?

AKG is present in many foods and is synthesized for use in dietary supplements.

AKG has been used in connection with the following conditions (refer to the individual health concern for complete information):

Science Ratings Health Concerns
1Star

Athletic performance

Surgery

3Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support and/or minimal health benefit.

Who is likely to be deficient?

AKG is not an essential nutrient, and no deficiency has been reported.

How much is usually taken?

Only intravenous AKG has been used in research studies; no reliable information about desirable oral amounts is available.

Are there any side effects or interactions?

No side effects have been reported with the use of AKG.

No clear interactions between AKG and other nutrients have been established.

At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions with alpha ketoglutarate (AKG).

References:

1. Aussel C, Coudray-Lucas C, Lasnier E, et al. Alpha-Ketoglutarate uptake in human fibroblasts. Cell Biol Int 1996;20:359–63.

2. Wernerman J, Hammarqvist F, Vinnars E. Alpha-ketoglutarate and postoperative muscle catabolism. Lancet 1990;335:701–3.

3. Blomqvist BI, Hammarqvist F, von der Decken A, Wernerman J. Glutamine and alpha-ketoglutarate prevent the decrease in muscle free glutamine concentration and influence protein synthesis after total hip replacement. Metabolism 1995;44:1215–22.

4. Hammarqvist F, Wernerman J, von der Decken A, Vinnars E. Alpha-ketoglutarate preserves protein synthesis and free glutamine in skeletal muscle after surgery. Surgery 1991;109:28–36.

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