Pyruvate supplies the body with pyruvic acid, a natural compound that plays important roles in the manufacture and use of energy. Pyruvate supplements have become popular with bodybuilders and other athletes, based on claims that pyruvate can reduce body fat and enhance the ability to use energy efficiently. However, at the present time, there is only preliminary evidence that it really works.

Pyruvate is not an essential nutrient, since your body makes all it needs. But it can be found in food, with an average diet supplying anywhere from 100 mg to 2 g daily. Apples are the best source: a single apple contains about 450 mg of pyruvate. Beer and red wine contain about 75 mg per serving.

Therapeutic dosages are usually much higher than what you can get from food: You'd have to eat almost 70 apples a day to get the proper amount! To use pyruvate for therapeutic purposes, you must take a supplement.

Although most products on the market contain only (or almost only) pyruvate, some also contain a related compound, dihydroxyacetone, which the body converts to pyruvate. The combination of the two products is known as DHAP.

Pyruvate is also marketed as a sports performance supplement, but the supporting evidence for this use is weak and contradictory at best.9-12,19