Pyruvate

Overview

Pyruvate is a short, 3-carbon acid that plays a critical role in both the aerobic and anaerobic pathways for the generation of energy in the body. Pyruvic acid is chemically unstable, so product manufacturers stabilize it by combining it with various minerals to form a "salt." The most commonly available forms are either calcium, magnesium, sodium, or potassium pyruvate. The largest amount of pyruvate is utilized in the mitochondria in the Krebs cycle.

Pyruvate occurs naturally in the body as the end product of glycolysis, which is the metabolism of sugar or starch. In the mitochondria, pyruvate is then decarboxylated to form acetyl CoA, the starting substance in the Krebs cycle, in the process of energy production. Thus, pyruvate plays a primary role in the production of energy because it "fuels" the energy production cycle. Supplementation with pyruvate can increase cellular respiration, or the amount of energy the mitochondria (the cells' metabolic furnace) uses. The more energy used, the less the body stores, which explains why pyruvate has been used successfully in weight loss programs.

Dosage Info

Dosage Range

2 to 30 grams daily.

Most Common Dosage

1 to 5 grams daily.

Dosage Forms

Tablets, capsules, and powder.

Adult RDI

None established

Adult ODA

None established

RDA

  • : None established

Active Forms

Calcium pyruvate is the most common form of pyruvate supplementation, but sodium pyruvate and potassium pyruvate are also available.

Absorption

Calcium pyruvate is readily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract.

Toxicities & Precautions

General

Calcium pyruvate is considered safe and is generally used without side effects. Individuals ingesting daily doses of 30 grams or more have reported occasional nausea and stomach upset.

Side Effects

Individuals ingesting daily doses of 30 grams or more have reported occasional nausea and stomach upset.

Functions in the Body

Produces Energy

Pyruvate plays a role in both the aerobic and anaerobic pathways for the production of energy in the human body.

Increases Energy

Pyruvate increases the available energy for muscles to use, which results in more calories being burned as energy, and less being stored as fat.

Increase Metabolic Rate

In an animal study, it was reported that pyruvate’s ability to enhance weight loss was due in part to its ability to increase resting metabolic rate and fatty acid oxidation.

Antioxidant

Several studies report that pyruvate functions as an antioxidant, capable of reducing damage from oxidative stress.,, (1)

Clinical Applications

Weight Loss

In a controlled dietary experiment with obese women, substituting pyruvate for glucose resulted in increased fat and weight loss. (2) In another study, obese women who had recently lost weight were administered pyruvate along with another 3-carbon compound called dihydroxyacetone. These 3-carbon compounds caused a reduction in the amount of weight that was gained back and decreased the re-accumulation of body fat, without decreasing body protein gain. (3) In a randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study, the test subjects consumed a pyruvate supplement (6 gm/day). At the end of 6 weeks, individuals taking pyruvate experienced a significant reduction in body weight and body fat mass while the placebo group made no gains. (4) Researchers suggest that these effects are due to an increased loss of calories as heat, which results in decreased fat storage. (5)

Increase Endurance

Two small clinical trials have been published, which report that supplementation with pyruvate, in conjunction with a similar 3-carbon compound called dihydroxyacetone, results in increased exercise endurance. In one study, men performed an arm exercise to exhaustion. The pyruvate/ dihydroxyacetone combination increased the mens’ arm endurance from 133 minutes to 160 minutes. (6) In the second study,the pyruvate/dihydroxyacetone combination, in conjunction with a high carbohydrate diet, increased the mens leg exercise time to exhaustion from 66 to 79 minutes. (7) However, the results of a randomized, double-blind, crossover trial reported that pyruvate ingestion for 7 days did not improve the aerobic performance in well-trained male cyclists. (8)

Symptoms and Causes of Deficiency

Pyruvate is not an essential nutrient because it is readily produced in humans. Therefore, a deficiency condition related to pyruvate has not been identified or defined.

Dietary Sources

Apples

References

  1. View Abstract: Bassenge E, Sommer O, Schwemmer M, Bunger R. Antioxidant pyruvate inhibits cardiac formation of reactive oxygen species through changes in redox state. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. Nov2000;279(5):H2431-8.
  2. View Abstract: Stanko RT, et al. Body composition, energy utilization, and nitrogen metabolism with a 4.25-MJ/d low-energy diet supplemented with pyruvate. Am J Clin Nutr. Oct1992;56(4):630-5.
  3. View Abstract: Stanko RT, Arch JE. Inhibition of regain in body weight and fat with addition of 3-carbon compounds to the diet with hyperenergetic refeeding after weight reduction. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. Oct1996;20(10):925-30.
  4. View Abstract: Kalman D, Colker CM, Wilets I, et al. The effects of pyruvate supplementation on body composition in overweight individuals. Nutrition. May1999;15(5):337-40.
  5. View Abstract: Ivy JL. Effect of pyruvate and dihydroxyacetone on metabolism and aerobic endurance capacity. Med Sci Sports Exerc. Jun1998;30(6):837-43.
  6. View Abstract: Stanko RT, et al. Enhancement of arm exercise endurance capacity with dihydroxyacetone and pyruvate. J Appl Physiol. Jan1990;68(1):119-24.
  7. View Abstract: Stanko RT, et al. Enhanced leg exercise endurance with a high-carbohydrate diet and dihydroxyacetone and pyruvate. J Appl Physiol. Nov1990;69(5):1651-6.
  8. View Abstract: Morrison MA, Spriet LL, Dyck DJ. Pyruvate ingestion for 7 days does not improve aerobic performance in well-trained individuals. J Appl Physiol. Aug2000;89(2):549-56.