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A Canary's Eye View — Supplements
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Metabolic Basis


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Alpha-Ketoglutaric Acid (AK)


  • Part of the Krebs/ Citric Acid Cycle (basic energy source for the body)
  • Helps the liver break down by-products of muscle exercise
    • ammonia
    • lactic acid
    • ?arachidonic acid? — this fatty acid is the chemical messenger first released by muscles during strong exercise. It regulates muscle growth. [need more info, including does AK break it down?]
  • Body-builders use AK to
    • exercise longer with less resultant pain and stiffness
    • build up more lean body mass
  • very acidic

Sources I've tried:

  • Pyridoxine Alpha Keto-Glutarate (PAK)
    • strongly hydrophilic; loses potency as it absorbs water
    • the Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) gave me headaches and eventually (when I took more because the AK component was losing potency) a liver attack. [What does it mean about my liver that most B vitamins do this? One possible answer is mineral deficiency.]
    • very acidic
    • Smart Basics has some, with a good description.
  • Twin Labs' Potassium Fuel
    • AK is combined with large amounts of potassium and magnesium to neutralize the acid
    • was hard to compare the AK dosage to that in the PAK I'd been taking; as a result I didn't get enough into me and muscle spasms from TMJ apparently set off a liver attack
  • Pure Alpha Ketoglutaric Acid powder
  • L-Ornithine alpha-ketoglutarate

My experience:

  • Before I started taking AK, walking a few hundred yards would give me a liver attack. When I first started using it, I could do heavy gardening; see the description in my essay "Garden Meditations."
  • It also reduced the nerve pinching pain from repetitive motion stress
  • AK gives me energy...
    • When I first started taking it, it made me feel tense and "wired" — with both sleep and meditation more difficult. I would tailor how much I took to the minimum I needed to handle the results of exercise. I took it once a day.
    • Now I need (and tolerate) it about every two to three hours. It goes a long way toward keeping my chronic pain down, and doesn't tense me up anymore.
  • But I can still only tolerate a very small amount at a time. I dilute 1/4 tsp of the powder in 1 quart of water, then use 2 ounces of that for each dose. It works out to about 75 mg per dose, and I take from 4 to 6 of them a day.
    • When I have tried to take a larger dose, it gives me a throbbing headache in both temples (not the same headache I get with liver attacks, but still incapacitating).
    • When I have a liver attack, I can't tolerate it, have to stop taking it. When I start again, I can't resume taking it at the same level; I have to start lower and work up again or I get the throbbing temples, and it doesn't protect me in exercise. Wonder if it's like CoEnzyme Q10: needs to get the system that uses it beefed up before it's effective (though it only takes a few days, not weeks).
    • Pure amino acids need to be taken on an empty stomach, and not with other supplements. (Although perhaps other pure amino acids are okay?) I give it half an hour before I eat, and an hour after.
  • It's extremely hygroscopic / hydrophilic, and degrades fast (it stops working before the expiration date Jo-Mar gives).
  • It reduces inflammation for me, notably when I use my wrists a lot on the computer. (That's why I listed it as useful for arthritis.)

Please note

I am not advising anyone to do what I'm doing. Your body may react entirely differently from mine. I am not a doctor, and do not know enough about these supplements to recommend them.

copyright © 2000-2005 by Catherine Holmes Clark. Last updated 24 October 2005