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What is Ca-AKG? Benefits, Dosage, Side Effects and more

What is ca-akg? 3D render of the alpha-ketoglutarate molecule, highlighting its complex structure and atomic bonds.

In this article:

Introduction | What is Calcium Alpha-Ketoglutarate (CaaKG) | Benefits of Ca-AKG | Supporting Bone Health | Energy Production | Reduce Inflammation | Calcium AKG and Longevity | How to take and Dosage | Side Effects and Safety | Natural and Food sources | Conclusion

Introduction

Calcium alpha-ketoglutarate (Ca-AKG) is a compound that has sparked significant interest in the health and wellness community for its multifaceted benefits. As a crucial player in the Krebs cycle, also known as the citric acid cycle, Ca-AKG is vital for energy production at the cellular level. Its role extends beyond mere energy production, influencing areas such as longevity, hair health, and bone density. This has led to its growing popularity as a dietary supplement, with many seeking to harness its potential to enhance their overall well-being.

What is Ca-AKG?

Calcium alpha-ketoglutarate (Ca-AKG) is a salt form of alpha-ketoglutaric acid, a key organic acid involved in the Krebs cycle. This metabolic pathway is essential for energy production, as it is responsible for converting nutrients into ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the energy currency of cells. Ca-AKG plays a pivotal role in this process, facilitating the efficient transfer of energy and contributing to overall cellular health.

Produced both naturally within the body and available as a dietary supplement, Ca-AKG’s significance extends beyond energy metabolism. It acts as an important molecular player in various physiological processes, including amino acid synthesis and nitrogen transport. Its supplemental form is often sought after for its purported health benefits, ranging from enhanced longevity to improved physical performance.

Related: What is NMN: benefits, dosage and more

Benefits of Ca-AKG

Ca-AKG is a supplement with potential benefits for your bones, energy, skin, and muscles. The evidence comes from both human and animal studies. While it shows promise for improving health in various areas, the science is still evolving. Animal research has laid a good foundation, but more human studies are needed to fully understand how Ca-AKG works and its full benefits. This brief look at Ca-AKG highlights the importance of ongoing research to confirm its effectiveness and safety for long-term use.

Supporting Bone Health

Ca-AKG plays a key role in keeping our bones strong and healthy because it helps our bodies use calcium more effectively. Calcium is a vital mineral for bone strength, and Ca-AKG makes it easier for our bodies to absorb this important nutrient. Research has shown that taking Ca-AKG supplements can be particularly beneficial for preventing and managing weak bones, a condition known as osteoporosis, which is common in women after menopause. By improving how much calcium our bones can take in, Ca-AKG not only helps increase the density of our bones but also slows down the rate at which our bones break down or lose mass. This means stronger bones that are less likely to fracture or become weak over time.

Research Context: Most calcium supplementation studies, including those for Ca-AKG, involve both humans and animals, showing positive effects on bone density and structure in various populations.

Energy Production and Fatigue Reduction

Ca-AKG is at the heart of how our bodies create energy. It plays a vital role in the Krebs cycle, which is a major process for making energy inside our cells. Ca-AKG helps turn the food we eat into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is like fuel for our cells. This process is especially important for parts of our body that need a lot of energy, like our heart and muscles. By helping to produce more ATP, Ca-AKG can help us feel more energetic and improve our endurance, making it easier to stay active and healthy.

Research Context: Early research in animal models suggests improvements in energy metabolism, with limited but emerging studies in humans indicating potential benefits for energy and endurance.

May help reduce inflammation

Ca-AKG may help reduce systemic inflammation by regulating cytokine production, crucial molecules in the body’s inflammatory response. This regulation is significant as chronic inflammation is linked to conditions like metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Research supports Ca-AKG’s role in lowering inflammatory markers, highlighting its potential in managing inflammation-related diseases.

Research Context: Researchers observed a significant decrease in inflammatory markers in subjects who received Ca-AKG supplementation, underscoring its potential to combat inflammation at a systemic level. This research was done on aging mice.

Dr. Brian Kennedy on AKG for Aging Adults

Calcium Alpha-Ketoglutarate and Longevity

Several studies, including those published in ScienceDirect3 and NCBI4, indicate Ca-AKG’s potential to extend lifespan and improve healthspan. Dr. David Sinclair, a renowned geneticist specializing in aging, suggests that Ca-AKG may influence biological age reversal processes. Mechanistically, Ca-AKG is thought to enhance cellular health and resistance to stress, contributing to its anti-aging effects.

The ABLE study by Andrea Maier

Dr Andrea Maier said that supplements studied in human clinical trials would always need to be proven in animal studies first.

“We are always focusing on supplements which have been proven in animal studies.​ We are doing the ABLE study at the moment, it is with alpha ketoglutarate. We know that alpha ketoglutarate is modifying various physiological systems in the body, with positive effects on the brain, on the heart, on the muscle – which are effects that are seen at least in animal models, and it’s been proven in observational studies that people who are taking AKG might be biologically younger in the end.​

“We are now testing it in a randomised control trial to find out if that’s actually true, and if people who are getting AKG are also biologically younger,”​

-Andrea B. Maier

How to Take Calcium AKG

Incorporating Calcium Alpha-Ketoglutarate (Ca-AKG) into your health regimen can offer numerous benefits, from enhancing cellular energy production to potentially improving bone health and physical performance. Understanding the recommended dosages, optimal timing for intake, and practical tips for first-time users can help maximize the efficacy of this supplement.

Recommended Dosage

Scientific studies have explored various dosages of Ca-AKG to identify effective amounts for different health outcomes. While the optimal dosage can vary based on individual health goals and conditions, a general guideline suggests a range:

  • General Health and Wellness: A daily intake of 300 mg to 2,000 mg of Ca-AKG is recommended for most adults. This range is considered safe and effective for supporting general metabolic functions and energy production.
  • Specific Health Conditions: For targeted health issues such as bone density improvement or enhanced physical recovery, dosages at the higher end of the spectrum, around 1,500 mg to 2,000 mg, may be more beneficial. However, consulting with a healthcare provider for personalized advice is crucial.

Best Practices on When to Take Ca-AKG

The timing of Ca-AKG supplementation can affect its absorption and efficacy. While there is no universally accepted time to take Ca-AKG, some general recommendations can be drawn from its digestive characteristics and the nature of the compound itself.

  • With Meals: Taking Ca-AKG with meals can enhance its absorption and effectiveness, especially if the meals contain a moderate amount of healthy fats, as certain studies suggest fat can aid in the absorption of various supplements.
  • Pre-Exercise: For those looking to improve exercise performance and recovery, taking Ca-AKG 30 minutes to an hour before workouts can provide the muscular and cardiovascular systems with an energy boost.

Side Effects and Safety Profile?

While Ca-AKG is generally considered safe for most individuals, it’s important to be aware of potential side effects. Common side effects are mild and may include gastrointestinal discomfort, such as bloating or diarrhea. However, these reactions are typically associated with high dosages of the supplement.

Is Ca-AKG Safe?

Scientific research into the safety profile of Ca-AKG suggests that it is well-tolerated when taken in recommended amounts. Nevertheless, individuals with pre-existing medical conditions or those taking medication should consult a healthcare professional before adding Ca-AKG to their supplement regimen. This precaution ensures that Ca-AKG does not interfere with medical conditions or treatments.

Where Does Calcium Alpha-Ketoglutarate Come From?

Natural food sources of alpha-ketoglutarate

Alpha-Ketoglutarate (AKG) is a key intermediate in the Krebs cycle, naturally present in small amounts in many foods. High-protein foods such as meat, fish, and dairy products, as well as some fruits and vegetables, are sources of AKG. The body also produces AKG as part of the metabolic process of converting nutrients into energy.

  • Red and White Meats: These are some of the richest sources of AKG. Red meat, in particular, contains high levels of AKG because it is a component of muscle protein. When we consume these proteins, our bodies break them down into amino acids and other derivatives like AKG.
  • Poultry and Fish: Similar to red meat, poultry and fish are abundant sources of proteins that can be broken down into AKG.
  • Dairy Products: Milk, cheese, and other dairy products provide not only calcium but also proteins that can yield AKG through digestion and metabolism.
  • Fermented Foods: Certain fermented foods such as cheeses and fermented soy products, contain AKG. The fermentation process can increase the concentration of this metabolite in these foods.
  • Melons: The fruit family that includes watermelon and cantaloupe has been found to contain AKG, making them a sweet and refreshing source of this compound.
  • Beans and Legumes: These not only are good plant sources of protein but also contain glutamine and other amino acids that are precursors to AKG.

Related: Foods high in spermidine, read more.

The process of synthesizing Ca-AKG for supplements

The Ca-AKG found in supplements is typically synthesized through a chemical reaction that combines alpha-ketoglutaric acid with calcium. This process ensures a stable, bioavailable form of AKG that can be easily absorbed by the body. The synthesized Ca-AKG is then tested for purity and efficacy before being included in supplements, ensuring that the final product meets regulatory standards for safety and quality.

Conclusion

Calcium AKG offers a promising avenue for those seeking to enhance their health and wellness through supplementation. Its roles in energy production, longevity, and recovery make it an attractive option for a wide range of individuals. However, as with any supplement, the key to safely reaping its benefits lies in informed and mindful usage, guided by evidence-based research and professional advice. By adhering to recommended dosages and engaging in ongoing dialogue with healthcare providers, individuals can effectively integrate Ca-AKG into their health regimen, potentially unlocking a host of benefits designed to improve quality of life and overall well-being.

As research continues to unfold, the potential of Ca-AKG as a cornerstone of health and longevity remains an exciting prospect. With its foundation in cellular metabolism and energy production, Ca-AKG stands at the forefront of dietary supplements, promising to support a healthier, more vibrant future.

References

Azar Asadi Shahmirzadi, Daniel Edgar, Chen-Yu Liao Alpha-Ketoglutarate, an Endogenous Metabolite, Extends Lifespan and Compresses Morbidity in Aging Mice Cell Metab. 2020 September 01; 32(3): 447–456.e6. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2020.08.004.

Elena Sandalova,corresponding, Jorming Goh, Zi Xiang Lim, Zhi Meng Lim, Diogo Barardo, Rajkumar Dorajoo, Brian K. Kennedy and Andrea B. Maier Alpha-ketoglutarate supplementation and BiologicaL agE in middle-aged adults (ABLE)—intervention study protocol GeroScience. 2023 Oct; 45(5): 2897–2907. doi: 10.1007/s11357-023-00813-6

T Niemiec, J Sikorska, A Harrison, M Szmidt, E Sawosz, E Wirth-Dzieciolowska, J Wilczak, S Pierzynowski Alpha-ketoglutarate stabilizes redox homeostasis and improves arterial elasticity in aged mice PMID: 21451208

Bibek Gyanwali, Zi Xiang Lim, Janjira Soh, Clarissa Lim, Shou Ping Guan, Jorming Goh, Andrea B Maier, Brian K Kennedy Alpha-Ketoglutarate dietary supplementation to improve health in humans PMID: 34952764 DOI: 10.1016/j.tem.2021.11.003

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