Carnosine is a small peptide that contains two amino acids,
beta-alanine and histidine. It is found in high concentrations in
skeletal muscles, cardiac muscle and the brain.
Carnosine supplements have been popular among body-builders and
athletes mainly for improving muscular fatigue. Now, based on over
800 studies, it's being viewed as one of the most important supplements
for longevity based on its amazing properties. It is also a neuroprotectant,
a modulator of enzyme activities, and a chelator of toxic metals.
Although carnosine's other benefits have not been extensively researched,
based on preliminary studies done in Russia, it has also been shown
to be beneficial for its ability to:
- boost immunity and reduce inflammation
- exert anticancer effects
- promote wound healing, protect against radiation damage and
reverse post-radiation syndrome. Laboratory animals treated with
carnosine were found to have faster and better wound healing rates
compared to controls. This has potential applications to treating
burns, wounds following surgery, or during nutritional preparation
- protect against the formation of gastric ulcers, and help heal
- help eradicate Helicobacter pylori, an organism that has been
linked to peptic ulcer and stomach cancer
- reduce or completely prevent cell damage caused by beta
amyloid 12, the substance found in the brain of Alzheimer's disease
- help protect against cataract formation
- protect against the effect of glucose damage and protein
- inhibit (or reverse) glycosylation and therefore slow the
damaging and pro-aging effects of carbohydrate consumption
- increase muscle strength and endurance
- improve appearance
Are you getting enough carnosine?
Dietary sources of carnosine incude meat, poultry and fish, but
with the decrease in meat consumption, many people are getting less
and less carnosine in their diet. But even if you do eat meat, as
we naturally age, carnosine levels are reduced. This reduction in
muscle carnosine concentration may be one of the causes of the decline
in muscle mass, strength and function in the elderly.
Carnosine levels decrease with age
There is a high concentration of carnosine found in actively contracting
muscles, and a low concentration found in weakened muscles, such
as those affected by muscular dystrophy. In fact, people who suffer
from a neuromuscular disease exhibit a 63% decline of muscle concentrations
of carnosine, from the years 10 to 70.
Stress and trauma also contribute to a reduction in carnosine levels,
which may be a factor in the increased mortality rate in the elderly
following stressful events.14 All the more reason to take a carnosine
As a potent antioxidant, carnosine stabilizes and protects the
cell membrane by quenching the most destructive of free radicals
the hydroxyl radicalas well as the superoxide, singlet oxygen
and the peroxyl radical.
Carnosine prevents lipid peroxidation within the cell membrane,
and is believed to be the water-soluble counterpart to vitamin E
in protecting cell membranes from oxidative damage. During the process
of lipid peroxidation, lipids (such as the phospholipids in cell
membranes and fatty acids in the bloodstream) are subject to attack
by free radicals, which damage them by oxidation.
Carnosine has specifically been shown to block a highly reactive
end product of lipid peroxidation called malondialdegyde (MDA).
If left unchecked, MDA can cause damage to lipids, enzymes and DNA,
and contribute to atherosclerosis, joint inflammation, cataract
formation, and aging in general.
How does carnosine work as an anti-aging nutrient?
Proteins are the substances most responsible for the daily functioning
of living organisms. When proteins are damaged and modifieddue
to a variety of complex chemical processes including carbonylation,
glycosylation, lipid peroxidation, cross linking, and the production
of AGEs (advanced glycosylation end-products) - there is a dramatic
impact on the functioning and appearance of the body. Our faces
begin to sag and wither, our energy levels decrease, and without
our even realizing it, all of a sudden we look differently than
we did 20 or 50 years ago.
According to Karin Granstrom Jordan, M.D. ("Carnosine: Nature's
pluripotent life extension agent" Life Extension Magazine,
Jan, 2001), "Modified proteins accumulate as we age, while
carnosine levels are declining. Once a protein is modified it has
lost its ability to function normally, and when a significant portion
of the body's protein has reached this point, the body becomes more
prone to degenerative diseases." Carnosine is now believed
to bind and modify damaged proteins in a vital process that helps
our cells properly target them for removal and replacement.
The good news is that carnosine has emerged as the most promising
broad spectrum shield against protein modification.
Experience improved facial appearance, muscular stamina and general
In a preliminary anti-aging experiment, Marios Kyriazis MD gave
carnosine supplements (50 mg. daily) to 20 healthy human volunteers,
aged 40 - 75 years, for a period of 1-4 months. No side effects
were reported. Five users noticed significant improvements in their
facial appearance (firmer facial muscles), muscular stamina and
general well being. Five others reported possible benefits, for
example better sleep patterns, improved clarity of thought and increased
libido. The rest did not report any noticeable effects.
Although this study evokes optimism, we should note that it was
only a preliminary study, was not placebo controlled and relied
on the participants subjective reports.
Dr. Kyriazis reported that it is not surprising that some of the
volunteers did not report any noticeable effects because "supplementation
with carnosine is not expected to show any significant noticeable
benefits in a short time, but it should be used as an insurance
against deleterious effects of the aging process. If any benefits
are noted, these should be considered as an added
extra bonus. It is worthwhile persevering with the carnosine supplementation
long term, even if you do not experience any obvious benefits, as
you will still be well protected against aging."
Carnosine slows down aging in animals
In one study done on laboratory animals, carnosine was shown to
slow the development of aging in senescence-accelerated
animals (animals bred for rapid aging) when added to their diet.
These effects were seen not only on lifespan, but also on behavioral
changes and physical deterioration. Carnosine also had a similar
though smaller effect on normal, long-lived animals not chosen for
their rapid aging features, making it an interesting
supplement for those of us worried about premature aging.
If you want to try a safe and effective anti-aging supplement,
you can't go wrong with carnosine. Carnosine offers potent protection
against free radicals and protein modification by itself. For added
protection, take it along with vitamin E and/or Co-enzyme Q10.
to Anti-Aging Medicine Index