Safety of dietary guanidinoacetic acid
Guanidinoacetic acid (GAA) is a natural amino acid derivative that is well-recognized for its central role in the biosynthesis of creatine, an essential compound involved in cellular energy metabolism. GAA (also known as glycocyamine or betacyamine) has been investigated as an energy-boosting dietary supplement in humans for more than 70 years. GAA is suggested to effectively increase low levels of tissue creatine and improve clinical features of cardiometabolic and neurological diseases, with GAA often outcompeting traditional bioenergetics agents in maintaining ATP status during stress. This perhaps happens due to a favorable delivery of GAA through specific membrane transporters (such as SLC6A6 and SLC6A13), previously dismissed as un-targetable carriers by other therapeutics, including creatine. The promising effects of dietary GAA might be countered by side-effects and possible toxicity. Animal studies reported neurotoxic and pro-oxidant effects of GAA accumulation, with exogenous GAA also appearing to increase methylation demand and circulating homocysteine, implying a possible metabolic burden of GAA intervention. This mini-review summarizes GAA toxicity evidence in human nutrition and outlines functional GAA safety through benefit-risk assessment and multi-criteria decision analysis.