What is L-carnosine?

L-carnosine is a di-peptide containing the amino acids beta-alanine and histidine. Our heart, liver, kidneys, brain and muscles all have a high concentration of this amino acid. Anywhere in our body requiring lots of energy will have carnosine.

One of the key areas of interest in carnosine is in its antioxidant properties. Consequently, scientists have been eager to determine if this amino acid could be a powerful anti-aging ally1.  Also, other areas of interest include exercise efficiency and treatment for disease.

As our body ages the availability of L-carnosine deceases2, 3, 4. Consequently dietary sources of this amino acid become extra important as the body’s need for this compound doesn’t decline.

Like all amino acids, the best sources of carnoise lie in protein-rich foods. These include beef, pork, poultry, nuts, seeds, brown rice, brewer’s yeast, watercress, avocado, whole grains, spriulina, mushrooms, corn, bran, corn, beans, legumes and mushrooms.

Carnosine deficiencies are uncommon in healthy people. However, genetic defects and/or low protein diets can cause shortages of this amino acid. Dietary supplements may help, although it’s important to check with a doctor first. Generally, 100mg of L-carnosine supplementation daily is considered safe.

Functions of L-carnosine

Your physical health is strongly influenced by carnosine. This amino acid has a wide range of functions within the body

With age, carnosine levels reduce. The body produces less of this amino acid and it’s also more susceptible to destruction. Researchers have found that conditions associated with accelerated aging coincide with lower carnosine levels and faster destruction. This is particularly evident in people with diabetes and metabolic syndrome5.

Consequently there has been a lot of research assessing if L-carnosine supplementation could reverse or slow-down the aging process. In culture dishes human cells have responded favourably to carnosine, reducing the acceleration of aging processes6. In other studies the lifespan of fruit flies, mice and rotifers have also been extended thanks to this amino acid7, 8, 9.

Carnosine helps to reduce the aging process by minimising oxidation and mitochondria dysfunction. However, this amino acid achieves this on multiple platforms. It reduces glycation, cross-linking, and telomere shorting; these processes are all linked to increased oxidation and subsequent aging of the body. L-carnosine also helps to reduce toxicity in the body by reducing heavy metal accumulation.

Many body builders and other athletes take beta- alanine supplements. This helps to elevate L-carnosine levels in combination with histidine. This has the advantage of minimising fatigue by lowering muscle acidity10. Diets rich in L-carnosine, beta-alanine and histidine protein foods may help to enhance athletic performance.

Our heart needs high levels of L-carnosine to maintain healthy blood flow and prevent heart-attacks and strokes11. Due to the strong anti-oxidant action of this amino acid it helps to reduce the risk of arthrosclerosis.

Carnosine is also an important regulator of artery function12. Consequently, adequate concentrations of L-carnosine are vital to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Obesity is a major health problem and leads to a wide range of diseases, including diabetes. People suffering from diabetes have lower levels of L-carnosine in their cells compared with healthy people13.

Researchers have found that blood pressure and blood glucose levels in animals with diabetes can be better regulated with carnosine supplementation14. There is evidence that L-carnosine can help to reduce atherosclerosis15, kidney damage16, and vision loss 17, 18 associated with type 2 diabetes.

For our brains to function correctly we need L-carnosine. This amino acid reduces nitosative, glycemic and oxidative stress19, 20. Without carnosine these chemical reactions and toxins elevate inflammation and other processes linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative illnesses.

People diagnosed with these diseases have been found to have sub-optimal levels of carnosine in their brain tissue21, 22.  However, it’s unconfirmed if this is the cause of neurodegenerative diseases or a symptom of the progression of the disease. Nevertheless, many health professionals recommend carnosine supplementation as part of the treatment  process.

Summary

Our body needs carnosine for its important antioxidant and anti-aging properties. This amino acid helps to keep the body running smoothly. Scientists have shown that this amino acid helps to protect our body against heart disease, declining cognitive function, diabetes, and other associated aliments.

To support good overall vitality it is important to ensure the body has sufficient carnosine. Deficiencies of this amino acid are rare. However during periods of ill health or poor diet carnosine requirements may be elevated. Maintaining a healthy balanced diet is important and if in doubt, consult a health professional about possible benefits of carnosine supplementation.

References

 

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