What Supplement Helps Reduce Lactic Acid?

What Supplement Helps Reduce Lactic Acid?

What is Lactic Acid and Why Does it Build Up During Exercise?  

Lactic acid is a byproduct of anaerobic energy production in the body. It builds up when your exercise intensity outpaces your cardiovascular system's ability to supply oxygen to your muscles. During high-intensity exercise like sprinting, your muscles rapidly use ATP for fuel. As your body works to replenish ATP anaerobically through glycolysis, lactic acid builds up faster than your body can metabolize it. 

The result is that lactic acid accumulates in your muscle tissue and bloodstream, lowering the pH in your muscles. This contributes to the "burning" feeling you experience during intense exercise. It also hampers muscle contraction, leading to temporary muscle fatigue and soreness. Lactic acid buildup is a normal response to extreme exertion when your muscles can't get enough oxygen to metabolize energy aerobically. With rest after your workout, your body clears excess lactic acid and your muscle pH returns to normal.

Symptoms of Lactic Acid Buildup

Lactic acid buildup leads to several characteristic symptoms that can negatively impact exercise performance. The most common symptoms include:

- Burning sensations in the muscles - As lactic acid accumulates, it causes a burning feeling in the muscles. This occurs because lactic acid decreases the muscle's pH, leading to acidic conditions that irritate nerve endings. The burning sensations are usually felt during intense exercise when the demand for oxygen is high.

- Muscle cramps and soreness - High lactic acid levels are associated with painful muscle cramps and soreness, both during and after exercise. The acidic environment causes muscle fatigue and discomfort. The cramps and soreness make it challenging to continue exercising at a high intensity.

- Decreased performance - The muscle burning and cramps caused by lactic acid buildup lead to reduced athletic performance. As the muscles get fatigued and sore, an athlete is unable to maintain pace or intensity. Lactic acid is directly linked to earlier fatigue and the inability to perform at peak levels.

Monitoring for these symptoms can help determine if lactic acid production is excessive during a workout. Taking steps to lower lactic acid levels can help boost endurance and workout capacity.

Who Experiences Lactic Acid Buildup

Lactic acid buildup is most common in certain types of athletes and people who are new to exercise. Specifically:

Sprinters and other anaerobic athletes - Sports like sprinting, weightlifting, hockey, basketball, football, and soccer require fast bursts of maximum effort. This anaerobic activity leads to rapid lactic acid production.

People new to exercise - When you start a new exercise program, your body isn't used to the exertion. So lactic acid can accumulate faster as your muscles and metabolism adjust. Beginners tend to experience soreness from lactic acid buildup after workouts.

Genetic factors can contribute - Some people simply produce lactic acid faster based on genetics. So while one person adapts quickly to intense training, another might experience excessive lactic acid for longer periods. There are cellular and metabolic factors that contribute to these individual differences.

So in summary, sports and activities requiring all-out exertion for short periods of time will cause the greatest spike in lactic acid. Athletes training at high intensities experience this regularly. And people new to working out will initially notice significant soreness and fatigue related to lactic acid until their body adapts over time.

Potential Problems with Excess Lactic Acid

When lactic acid builds up in the muscles during intense exercise, it can lead to several issues that negatively impact performance and recovery. Here are some of the key problems that can occur:

Impaired Muscle Function - Too much lactic acid accumulation makes the muscle environment more acidic, which interferes with energy production and contractile properties in muscle fibers. This can significantly reduce strength and power output.

Fatigue and Increased Injury Risk - As lactic acid increases, it contributes to localized fatigue in working muscles. This fatigue makes it harder to maintain proper exercise technique and coordinated movement patterns. Fatigued muscles are more prone to strains and other injuries. 

Slower Recovery Times - Clearing lactic acid from muscle tissue is part of the recovery process after strenuous activity. When there is excessive lactic acid buildup, it takes longer for the muscles to return to their pre-exercise state. This can delay recovery between intense training sessions or competitive events.

In summary, if lactic acid gets too high during exercise it can hinder performance, increase injury risk, and delay recovery. Finding ways to attenuate lactic acid accumulation can have benefits for many different types of athletes and exercisers.

Supplements to Reduce Lactic Acid

Several supplements may help reduce lactic acid buildup and clear it out of the muscles faster. Some of the top options include:


Magnesium plays a key role in energy production and muscle function. It helps the muscles relax, which can reduce pain and cramps associated with lactic acid. 

Many athletes find that supplementing with 200-400mg of magnesium daily allows them to exercise harder before lactic acid builds up. Magnesium glycinate and magnesium citrate are well-absorbed forms that may be beneficial pre-workout.

Sodium Bicarbonate 

Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) acts as a buffering agent that helps reduce the acidity of lactic acid. 

Taking 0.3 g per kg of body weight about 60-90 minutes before exercise can raise pH levels in the blood and muscles. This enables faster clearance of lactic acid.


Carnitine is an amino acid that transports fatty acids into the mitochondria to be burned for energy. This spares carbohydrate stores and reduces lactate production.

Doses of 1-3 grams of L-carnitine L-tartrate may be effective for lowering lactic acid during intense exercise.


Vitamin C and vitamin E are antioxidants that combat oxidative stress and inflammation from high-intensity training. 

Supplementing with 400-1000 mg of vitamin C and 400 IU of vitamin E daily can help the muscles recover faster by reducing free radical damage. This speeds the clearance of lactate post-workout.

Magnesium and Lactic Acid

Magnesium plays a critical role in energy production and muscle function. It activates enzymes involved in carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism. Magnesium also enables the chemical reactions that produce ATP, the main source of energy in cells. 

Some research indicates that magnesium supplementation can help reduce lactic acid buildup during exercise. One study found that taking 360 mg of magnesium per day for 25 days significantly decreased lactic acid accumulation in athletes after strenuous bouts of exercise. The results showed lower lactate levels and higher endurance capacity.

Other studies have also demonstrated beneficial effects on lactate levels with magnesium supplementation in the range of 250-360 mg per day. The anti-lactic acid effects of magnesium are likely due to its role in energy production pathways.

Based on the research, the recommended supplemental dosage of magnesium to combat lactic acid buildup during exercise is 300-400 mg per day. It's best to take magnesium glycinate or magnesium citrate which are highly bioavailable forms. Taking magnesium consistently can help decrease lactate production during intense training and competitions, allowing athletes to perform at higher levels for longer durations.

Sodium Bicarbonate and Lactic Acid

Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) has been shown to help reduce lactic acid buildup during exercise. It acts as a pH buffer, helping neutralize the acidic environment caused by lactic acid production. 

Several studies have demonstrated that taking sodium bicarbonate before intense exercise can delay fatigue and improve performance. One study found that athletes could bike for about 12% longer when they took sodium bicarbonate beforehand. The bicarbonate helps remove some of the excess protons produced along with lactic acid, reducing acidity in the muscles.

While it can enhance performance, sodium bicarbonate can also cause some side effects. Since it makes the body more alkaline, it may result in gastrointestinal issues like stomach pain, nausea or diarrhea. Sodium overload is also a risk at higher doses. People with high blood pressure need to be cautious with bicarbonate supplementation. Starting with a low dose and slowly increasing it over time is recommended to assess tolerance.

Carnitine and Lactic Acid

Carnitine is an amino acid that plays an important role in energy production by transporting fatty acids into the mitochondria where they can be burned for energy. Some research suggests that carnitine supplementation can help lower lactic acid levels during exercise. 

One study found that taking 2 grams of L-carnitine one hour before sprinting exercise reduced muscle soreness and markers of muscle damage compared to a placebo. Researchers believe that carnitine helps limit lactic acid buildup by increasing the oxidation of pyruvate, allowing for more energy production from carbohydrates [1].

Other studies have found that combining L-carnitine with carbohydrate consumption during endurance exercise leads to lower blood levels of lactic acid compared to carbohydrate alone [2]. The anti-fatigue effects of L-carnitine supplementation may help athletes sustain high-intensity exercise for longer periods. 

The recommended dosage of L-carnitine for exercise performance and lactic acid buffering ranges from 1-3 grams taken 30-60 minutes before activity. Start with a lower dose and assess individual tolerance. Look for supplement products with L-carnitine L-tartrate, which has greater bioavailability.

Carnitine is generally well-tolerated, though side effects like nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea are possible. Those with seizures, thyroid conditions or taking blood thinners should be cautious with carnitine supplementation.

Antioxidants and Lactic Acid

Antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E may help reduce lactic acid buildup during exercise by combating oxidative stress and assisting with lactic acid buffering. 

Some research has found that antioxidant supplementation can benefit athletes. One study gave vitamin C and E supplements to trained cyclists and found that it reduced blood markers of oxidative stress and supported their immune systems following intensive training [1]. 

Other studies have also found that vitamin C supplementation in particular may help improve exercise performance and recovery. A review of multiple studies concluded that regularly taking vitamin C supplements of at least 200 mg per day can reduce blood levels of lactate during exercise and improve oxygen utilization [2].

The antioxidants vitamin C and E may support the body's ability to clear lactic acid during periods of intense exertion. By reducing oxidative damage, they help optimize physiological processes related to lactic acid buffering. While more research is still needed, current evidence indicates antioxidants may be useful supplements for athletes looking to enhance performance and accelerate recovery.


In summary, there are several supplements that may help reduce lactic acid buildup during exercise. The key supplements discussed in this article include:

Magnesium: Magnesium plays a key role in energy production and lactic acid metabolism. Supplementing with 200-400 mg per day may help enhance performance and reduce lactic acid.

Sodium bicarbonate: Also known as baking soda, sodium bicarbonate acts as a buffer to help neutralize acidity during intense exercise. Doses of 0.2-0.4 grams per kg of body weight, taken 60-120 minutes before exercise, may be helpful.

Carnitine: L-carnitine is involved in energy production and transport of long-chain fatty acids. 2-4 grams per day may help reduce lactic acid accumulation. 

Antioxidants: Vitamins C and E and alpha-lipoic acid help neutralize oxidative damage from lactic acid buildup. 250-500 mg of vitamin C, 400 IU of vitamin E, and 300-600 mg of alpha-lipoic acid may provide benefits.