Last Editorial Review: 6/11/2021
Other Name(s):

2-Oxopropanoate, 2-Oxopropanoic acid, 2-Oxypropanoic Acid, Acetylformic Acid, Acide Acétylformique, Acide Alpha-Kéto, Acide Oxo-2 Propanoïque, Acide Pyruvique, Alpha-Keto Acid, Alpha-Ketopropionic Acid, Calcium Pyruvate, Calcium Pyruvate Monohydrate, Creatine Pyruvate, Magnesium Pyruvate, Monohydrate de Pyruvate de Calcium, Piruvato, Potassium Pyruvate, Proacemic Acid, Pyruvate de Calcium, Pyruvate de Créatine, Pyruvate de Magnésium, Pyruvate de Sodium, Pyruvic Acid, Sodium Pyruvate.


The body produces pyruvate when it breaks down sugar (glucose). Pyruvate is available as a supplement.

Pyruvate is used for weight loss and obesity, high cholesterol, cataracts, cancer, and improving athletic performance.

Pyruvate is used topically for scaly, flaky skin. Some people also apply pyruvic acid, a liquid form of pyruvate, to the skin to reduce wrinkles and other signs of aging. Pyruvic acid is sometimes applied to the skin as a facial peel.

How does it work?

Pyruvate might contribute to weight loss by increasing the breakdown of fat.

In addition, pyruvic acid seems to cause the outer layer of skin cells to slough off, which accounts for its use in reversing aging due to exposure to the sun.


Next to red peppers, you can get the most vitamin C from ________________. See Answer

Uses & Effectiveness

Possibly Effective for...

  • Aging skin. Applying a 50% pyruvic acid skin peel once a week for 4 weeks seems to smooth skin, decrease wrinkles, and decrease dark spots associated with aging due to sun exposure.
  • Weight loss and obesity. Although some research has found conflicting results, overall, pyruvate appears to decrease weight by an average of 1.6 pounds over 6-weeks in clinical research.

Possibly Ineffective for...

  • Athletic performance. Some early research suggests that increasing the intake of dietary pyruvate and dihydroxyacetone for one week increases exercise endurance. However, most research shows that taking pyruvate by mouth for up to 5 weeks, alone or along with creatine, does not improve athletic performance.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Alcohol-related liver disease. Early research suggests that giving sodium pyruvate intravenously (by IV) for 25 days improves measures of liver function in people with alcohol-related liver disease.
  • Athletic performance. Some early research suggests that increasing the intake of dietary pyruvate and dihydroxyacetone for one week increases exercise endurance. However, most research shows that taking pyruvate by mouth for up to 5 weeks, alone or along with creatine, does not improve athletic performance.
  • Long term lung disease (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD). Early research shows that inhaling sodium pyruvate using a nebulizer for 6 weeks may improve lung function in people with COPD.
  • Congestive heart failure (CHF). Early research suggests that injecting pyruvate into the artery that feeds blood into the heart may improve symptoms and heart function in people with heart failure.
  • Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery. Early research suggests that adding pyruvate to a solution that is used to help stop the heart during a CABG surgery improves recovery and may reduce heart complications after surgery.
  • Scaly, flaky skin (ichthyosis). Early research suggests that topically applying a Eucerin skin cream containing 5% pyruvate for at least 2 weeks helps increase skin shedding in people with scaly, flaky skin.
  • Cancer.
  • Cataracts.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of pyruvate for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Side Effects

Pyruvate is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth or inhaled using a nebulizer for up to six weeks. Side effects such as stomach upset, gas, bloating, and diarrhea can occur when large amounts are taken.

Pyruvic acid facial peels are POSSIBLY SAFE when applied by a healthcare professional. It can cause severe skin burning and should be applied only to small patches of skin at a time.


Vitamin D Deficiency: How Much Vitamin D Is Enough? See Slideshow

Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking pyruvate if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Diarrhea: Taking high amounts of pyruvate by mouth might worsen diarrhea.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): Taking high amounts of pyruvate by mouth might worsen symptoms of IBS.


The following doses have been studied in scientific research:



  • Aging skin: A 50% pyruvic acid peel applied once weekly for 4 weeks.
  • Weight loss: 5-44 grams daily has been used in combination with diet and exercise.

FDA Logo

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.


Awai, K. and Tomiyama, S. [Effect of oxalacetic acid, malic acid and pyruvate on the adjustment of abnormal fatty acid metabolism in diabetes mellitus]. Iryo. 1969;23(1):1-9. View abstract.

Devamanoharan, P. S., Henein, M., Ali, A. H., and Varma, S. D. Attenuation of sugar cataract by ethyl pyruvate. Mol.Cell Biochem. 1999;200(1-2):103-109. View abstract.

Ferrando, J. [Clinical trial of a topical preparation containing urea, sunflower oil, evening primrose oil, wheat germ oil and sodium pyruvate, in several hyperkeratotic skin conditions]. Med Cutan.Ibero.Lat.Am 1986;14(2):133-137. View abstract.

Fink, M. P. Ethyl pyruvate. Curr.Opin.Anaesthesiol. 2008;21(2):160-167. View abstract.

Fink, M. P. Ethyl pyruvate: a novel treatment for sepsis and shock. Minerva Anestesiol. 2004;70(5):365-371. View abstract.

Fink, M. P. Ethyl pyruvate: a novel treatment for sepsis. Curr.Drug Targets. 2007;8(4):515-518. View abstract.

Fink, M. P. Ethyl pyruvate: a novel treatment for sepsis. Novartis.Found.Symp. 2007;280:147-156. View abstract.

Gendviliene, V., Zablockaite, D., Babusyte, A., Jurevicius, J., and Benetis, R. [Effect of pyruvate on the dependence of electromechanical activity on stimulation frequency in human myocardium]. Medicina (Kaunas.) 2004;40(11):1097-1104. View abstract.

Hermann, H. P., Arp, J., Pieske, B., Kogler, H., Baron, S., Janssen, P. M., and Hasenfuss, G. Improved systolic and diastolic myocardial function with intracoronary pyruvate in patients with congestive heart failure. Eur.J Heart Fail. 3-1-2004;6(2):213-218. View abstract.

Hermann, H. P., Pieske, B., Schwarzmuller, E., Keul, J., Just, H., and Hasenfuss, G. Haemodynamic effects of intracoronary pyruvate in patients with congestive heart failure: an open study. Lancet 4-17-1999;353(9161):1321-1323. View abstract.

Ing, T. S., Yang, M. L., Yang, V. L., Wong, F. K., Cheng, Y. L., Guddeti, S. R., and Yu, A. W. Effect of an pyruvate-based peritoneal dialysis solution on the pH of a residual peritoneal dialysis fluid. Artif.Organs 1996;20(3):264-266. View abstract.

Kalariya, N. M., Reddy, A. B., Ansari, N. H., Vankuijk, F. J., and Ramana, K. V. Preventive Effects of Ethyl Pyruvate on Endotoxin-induced Uveitis in Rats. Invest Ophthalmol.Vis.Sci. 5-6-2011; View abstract.

Knott, E. M., Ryou, M. G., Sun, J., Heymann, A., Sharma, A. B., Lei, Y., Baig, M., Mallet, R. T., and Olivencia-Yurvati, A. H. Pyruvate-fortified cardioplegia suppresses oxidative stress and enhances phosphorylation potential of arrested myocardium. Am J Physiol Heart Circ.Physiol 2005;289(3):H1123-H1130. View abstract.

Knott, E. M., Sun, J., Lei, Y., Ryou, M. G., Olivencia-Yurvati, A. H., and Mallet, R. T. Pyruvate mitigates oxidative stress during reperfusion of cardioplegia-arrested myocardium. Ann.Thorac.Surg. 2006;81(3):928-934. View abstract.

Levy, S. B. and Goldsmith, L. A. Sodium pyruvate treatment for hyperkeratotic disorders. South.Med.J. 1979;72(3):307-310. View abstract.

Mallet, R. T., Squires, J. E., Bhatia, S., and Sun, J. Pyruvate restores contractile function and antioxidant defenses of hydrogen peroxide-challenged myocardium. J Mol.Cell Cardiol. 2002;34(9):1173-1184. View abstract.

Mallet, R. T., Sun, J., Knott, E. M., Sharma, A. B., and Olivencia-Yurvati, A. H. Metabolic cardioprotection by pyruvate: recent progress. Exp.Biol Med (Maywood.) 2005;230(7):435-443. View abstract.

Morrison, M. A., Spriet, L. L., and Dyck, D. J. Pyruvate ingestion for 7 days does not improve aerobic performance in well-trained individuals. J Appl Physiol 2000;89(2):549-556. View abstract.

Olivencia-Yurvati, A. H., Blair, J. L., Baig, M., and Mallet, R. T. Pyruvate-enhanced cardioprotection during surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass. J Cardiothorac.Vasc.Anesth. 2003;17(6):715-720. View abstract.

Petkova, I., Mateva, L., Beniozef, D., Petrov, K., and Thorn, W. Sodium pyruvate infusions in patients with alcoholic liver disease. Preliminary report. Acta Physiol Pharmacol.Bulg. 2000;25(3-4):103-108. View abstract.

Sappington, P. L., Fink, M. E., Yang, R., Delude, R. L., and Fink, M. P. Ethyl pyruvate provides durable protection against inflammation-induced intestinal epithelial barrier dysfunction. Shock 2003;20(6):521-528. View abstract.

Sharma, A. B., Barlow, M. A., Yang, S. H., Simpkins, J. W., and Mallet, R. T. Pyruvate enhances neurological recovery following cardiopulmonary arrest and resuscitation. Resuscitation 2008;76(1):108-119. View abstract.

Sharma, A. B., Knott, E. M., Bi, J., Martinez, R. R., Sun, J., and Mallet, R. T. Pyruvate improves cardiac electromechanical and metabolic recovery from cardiopulmonary arrest and resuscitation. Resuscitation 2005;66(1):71-81. View abstract.

Sharma, A. B., Sun, J., Howard, L. L., Williams, A. G., Jr., and Mallet, R. T. Oxidative stress reversibly inactivates myocardial enzymes during cardiac arrest. Am J Physiol Heart Circ.Physiol 2007;292(1):H198-H206. View abstract.

Stanko, R. T., Reynolds, H. R., Lonchar, K. D., and Arch, J. E. Plasma lipid concentrations in hyperlipidemic patients consuming a high-fat diet supplemented with pyruvate for 6 wk. Am J Clin Nutr 1992;56(5):950-954. View abstract.

Tsukiyama, T., Hara, T., Iio, M., Kido, G., and Tsubokawa, T. Preferential accumulation of 11C in human brain tumors after intravenous injection of 11C-1-pyruvate. Eur.J Nucl.Med 1986;12(5-6):244-248. View abstract.

Van Erven, P. M., Gabreels, F. J., Wevers, R. A., Doesburg, W. H., Ruitenbeek, W., Renier, W. O., and Lamers, K. J. Intravenous pyruvate loading test in Leigh syndrome. J Neurol.Sci 1987;77(2-3):217-227. View abstract.

Votto, J. J., Bowen, J. B., Barton, R. W., and Thrall, R. S. Inhaled sodium pyruvate improved FEV1 and decreased expired breath levels of nitric oxide in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. J Aerosol Med Pulm.Drug Deliv. 2008;21(4):329-334. View abstract.

Zhou, F. Q. Advantages of pyruvate over lactate in peritoneal dialysis solutions. Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2001;22(5):385-392. View abstract.

DeBoer LW, Bekx PA, Han L, Steinke L. Pyruvate enhances recovery of rat hearts after ischemia and reperfusion by preventing free radical generation. Am J Physiol 1993;265:H1571-6. View abstract.

Gheresitich I, Brazzini B, Perris K, et al. Pyruvic acid peels for the treatment of photoaging. Dermatol Surg 2004;30:32-6. View abstract.

Ivy JL, Cortez MY, Chandler RM, et al. Effects of pyruvate on the metabolism and insulin resistance of obese Zucker rats. Am J Clin Nutr 1994;59:331-7. View abstract.

Juhn M. Popular sports supplements and ergogenic aids. Sports Med 2003;33:921-39. View abstract.

Kalman D, Colker CM, Wilets I, et al. The effects of pyruvate supplementation on body composition in overweight individuals. Nutrition 1999;15:337-40. View abstract.

Koh-Banerjee PK, Ferreira MP, Greenwood M, et al. Effects of calcium pyruvate supplementation during training on body composition, exercise capacity, and metabolic responses to exercise. Nutrition 2005;21:312-9. . View abstract.

Matthys D, Van Coster R, Verhaaren H. Fatal outcome of pyruvate loading test in child with restrictive cardiomyopathy. Lancet 1991;338:1020-1. View abstract.

Onakpoya I, Hunt K, Wider B, Ernst E. Pyruvate supplementation for weight loss: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2014;54(1):17-23. View abstract.

Ostojic SM, Ahmetovic Z. The effect of 4 weeks treatment with a 2-gram daily dose of pyruvate on body composition in healthy trained men. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2009;79(3):173-9. View abstract.

Stanko RT, Mullick P, Clarke MR, et al. Pyruvate inhibits growth of mammary adenocarcinoma 13762 in rats. Cancer Res 1994;54:1004-7. View abstract.

Stanko RT, Reynolds HR, Hoyson R, et al. Pyruvate supplementation of a low-cholesterol, low-fat diet: effects on plasma lipid concentrations and body composition in hyperlipidemic patients. Am J Clin Nutr 1994;59:423-7. View abstract.

Stanko RT, Robertson RJ, Galbreath RW, et al. Enhanced leg exercise endurance with a high-carbohydrate diet and dihydroxyacetone and pyruvate. J Appl Physiol 1990;69:1651-6. View abstract.

Stanko RT, Robertson RJ, Spina RJ, et al. Enhancement of arm exercise endurance capacity with dihydroxyacetone and pyruvate. J Appl Physiol 1990;68:119-24. View abstract.

Stanko RT, Tietze DL, Arch JE. Body composition, energy utilization, and nitrogen metabolism with a 4.25-MJ/d low-energy diet supplemented with pyruvate. Am J Clin Nutr 1992;56:630-5. View abstract.

Stone MH, Sanborn K, Smith LL, et al. Effects of in-season (5 weeks) creatine and pyruvate supplementation on anaerobic performance and body composition in American football players. Int J Sport Nutr 1999;9:146-65. . View abstract.

Van Schuylenbergh R, Van Leemputte M, Hespel P. Effects of oral creatine-pyruvate supplementation in cycling performance. Int J Sports Med 2003;24:144-50. View abstract.

Vierck JL, Icenoggle DL, Bucci L, Dodson MV. The effects of ergogenic compounds on myogenic satellite cells. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2003;35:769-76. View abstract.