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What is pyruvate? Why do we need it?

Pyruvate is an enzyme. It is created in the body (in the form of pyruvic acid) during the process of metabolizing carbohydrates and proteins for energy.

Many studies have published results suggesting that pyruvate may aid in weight loss. Three separate controlled studies that combined various amounts of pyruvate (6-10 grams per day) with an exercise program reported greater reduction of body fat in overweight patients compared to those taking a placebo. Some clinical trials indicate that pyruvate supplements may increase the metabolic resting rate and improve endurance during exercise.

Other research indicates that pyruvate functions as an antioxidant, inhibiting the production of harmful free radicals. Preliminary research with animals suggests that because of its antioxidant properties, pyruvate may inhibit the growth of cancer tumors. However, this effect has not been confirmed in human studies.

How much pyruvate should I take?

A recommended daily allowance for pyruvate has yet to be established. Most weight-loss studies conducted in humans have used at least 30 grams of pyruvate a day. However, a study conducted in 1999 found that patients using six grams of pyruvate per day in combination with exercise led to greater weight loss and loss of body fat compared to those who exercised but took a placebo.

What are some good sources of pyruvate? What forms are available?

In addition to being formed in the body during digestion, pyruvate is found in many foods, including red apples, cheese, dark beer and red wine. Many health food stores also sell pyruvate supplements, either alone or as part of a multivitamin.

What can happen if I don’t get enough pyruvate? What can happen if I take too much? Are there any side-effects I should be aware of?

High pyruvate intake can cause gastrointestinal disorders such as gas, bloating and diarrhea. At present, there is no evidence of any drug interactions with pyruvate.

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• Cicalese L, Subbotin V, Rastellini C, et al. Acute rejection of small bowel allografts in rats: Protection afforded by pyruvate. Trans Proc 1996;28(5):2474.
• Kalman D, Colker CM, Wilets I, et al. The effects of pyruvate supplementation on body composition in overweight individuals. Nutrition 1999;15:337—40.
• Koh P, Kreider R, Ferreira M, et al. Effects of pyruvate supplementation during training on hematologic and metabolic profiles. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1998;30:S155.
• Kreider R, Koh P, Ferreira M, et al. Effects of pyruvate supplementation during training on body composition & metabolic responses to exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1998;30:S62.
• Stanko RT, Reynolds HR, Hoyson R, et al. Pyruvate supplementation of a low-cholesterol, low-fat diet: Effects on plasma lipid concentration and body composition in hyperlipidemic patients. Am J Clin Nutr 1994;59:423—7.


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