Lactic acid is nasty stuff. Your muscles produce it during intense exercise. It's a metabolic byproduct that makes no contribution to exercise performance. It causes muscle fatigue and post-exercise muscle soreness.
Thereof, is lactic acid harmful to the body?
As you run faster, however, your muscles burn more carbs and produce more lactic acid, which quickly breaks down into a good guy (lactate) and a bad guy (hydrogen ions). The hydrogen ions are bad because they lower the pH of your muscles, decreasing muscle efficiency, and causing that awful burning sensation.
What happens when too much lactic acid in your muscles?
Lactic acidosis occurs when there's too much lactic acid in your body. Causes can include chronic alcohol use, heart failure, cancer, seizures, liver failure, prolonged lack of oxygen, and low blood sugar. Even prolonged exercise can lead to lactic acid buildup.
Muscle ache, burning, rapid breathing, nausea, stomach pain: If you've experienced the unpleasant feeling of lactic acidosis, you likely remember it. It's temporary. It happens when too much acid builds up in your bloodstream. The most common reason it happens is intense exercise.
The metabolism of glucose to lactate by one tissue, such as red blood cells, and conversion of lactate to glucose by another tissue, such as the liver, is termed the Cori cycle. Lactate is cleared from blood, primarily by the liver, with the kidneys (10-20%) and skeletal muscles doing so to a lesser degree.
When the oxygen level is low, carbohydrate breaks down for energy and makes lactic acid. Lactic acid levels get higher when strenuous exercise or other conditions-such as heart failure, a severe infection (sepsis), or shock-lower the flow of blood and oxygen throughout the body.
The symptoms of lactic acidosis include abdominal or stomach discomfort; decreased appetite; diarrhea; fast, shallow breathing; a general feeling of discomfort; muscle pain or cramping; and unusual sleepiness, tiredness, or weakness. If you have any symptoms of lactic acidosis, get emergency medical help right away.
This increases the need for both food and oxygen in the body. This is why your pulse rate and breathing rate increase with exercise. When a fit person, such as an athlete, exercises the pulse rate, breathing rate and lactic acid levels rise much less than they do in an unfit person.
A side effect of high lactate levels is an increase in the acidity of the muscle cells, along with disruptions of other metabolites. Contrary to popular opinion, lactate or, as it is often called, lactic acid buildup is not responsible for the muscle soreness felt in the days following strenuous exercise.
Supplements That Fight Lactic Acid
- Supplements and Lactic Acid. There are many over-the-counter supplements that claim to fight lactic acid and induce muscle recovery.
- Magnesium. Consult your physician if you're planning on taking magnesium supplements.
- Creatine. Creatine converts to phosphate during metabolism.
- Omega-3 and Protein.
There are several potential health or nutritional benefits possible from some species of lactic acid bacteria. Among these are: improved nutritional value of food, control of intestinal infections, improved digestion of lactose, control of some types of cancer, and control of serum cholesterol levels.
Metformin is associated with lactic acidosis in patients with conditions that can themselves cause lactic acidosis (heart failure, hypoxia, sepsis, etc.). If one excludes overdoses, most cases of metformin-associated lactic acidosis, particularly the fatal ones, were probably not caused by metformin.
Substrate shortage is one of the causes of metabolic fatigue. Substrates are depleted during exercise, resulting in a lack of intracellular energy sources to fuel contractions. In essence, the muscle stops contracting because it lacks the energy to do so.
Lactic acid is a normal byproduct of muscle metabolism, but it can irritate muscles and cause discomfort and soreness. Muscle soreness associated with exercise is known as delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS. But lactic acid isn't the only culprit in DOMS.
Lactic acid is one of the most popular alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) in skin care today, marketed as a powerful ingredient that helps reduce acne breakouts and the appearance of wrinkles and other signs of aging. Lactic acid may exfoliate your skin, but over time, it could lead to increased aging due to sun damage.
Lactic acid is used as a food preservative, curing agent, and flavoring agent. It is an ingredient in processed foods and is used as a decontaminant during meat processing. Lactic acid is produced commercially by fermentation of carbohydrates such as glucose, sucrose, or lactose, or by chemical synthesis.
The Cori cycle (also known as the Lactic acid cycle), named after its discoverers, Carl Ferdinand Cori and Gerty Cori, refers to the metabolic pathway in which lactate produced by anaerobic glycolysis in the muscles moves to the liver and is converted to glucose, which then returns to the muscles and is metabolized
Lactic acidosis occurs when lactic acid production exceeds lactic acid clearance. The increase in lactate production is usually caused by impaired tissue oxygenation, either from decreased oxygen delivery or a defect in mitochondrial oxygen utilization. (See "Approach to the adult with metabolic acidosis".)
When muscles are required to work harder than they're used to or in a different way, it's believed to cause microscopic damage to the muscle fibres, resulting in muscle soreness or stiffness. DOMS is often mistakenly believed to be caused by a build up of lactic acid, but lactic acid isn't involved in this process.
The technical difference between lactate and lactic acid is chemical. Lactate is lactic acid, missing one proton. To be an acid, a substance must be able to donate a hydrogen ion; when lactic acid donates its proton, it becomes its conjugate base, or lactate. But, the body produces and uses lactate -- not lactic acid.
During high-intensity activities, such as sprint races, lasting up to about two minutes or for the first 40 seconds or so of less intensive exercise (before the aerobic metabolism has been fully activated), the body uses the lactic acid system for energy.
During hard exercise when anaerobic respiration occurs with aerobic respiration, an oxygen debt builds up. This is now known as Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Debt or EPOC. This is because glucose is not broken down completely to form carbon dioxide and water. Some of it is broken down to form lactic acid.
The duration of your exercise depends on your goals. If you want to stay healthy and fit strive for at least 15-30 minutes per day, 4-5 days a week. If you are looking to lose weight I suggest increasing your activity to at least 30-60 minutes per day, 5 days a week.