Carnosine (beta-alanyl-L-histidine), is an organic compound found in many different food groups. L-carnosine has been shown to increase stamina and sporting performance due to the way it transports oxygen around the body, among other health-related benefits which we’ll discuss below.
It is a white and a colorless solid that is soluble in water with a dipeptide molecular structure. What does all of this mean? Basically, it’s made up of two amino acids beta-alanine and histidine that can be ingested with water, making it easily digestible for the body. (01)
L-carnosine is a popular ergogenic aid to sports performance.
Carnosine is highly concentrated in the muscles and brain tissues. You can also find carnosine in the skeletal muscles of fish, birds, mammals and in supplementation form. (02)
Carnosine has been shown to repair the body on a cellular level, protecting it against free radicals by removing unwanted metals.
Furthermore, carnosine supports the mitochondria (the powerhouse of energy production) helping the body to produce more energy.
In human studies, low levels of carnosine have been linked to various disease that could have been prevented with the presence of carnosine. (03)
When we break it down, what is carnosine? and what is it good for?
Carnosine is a valuable choice for anyone looking to improve performance, health, and well-being as it works with the body to increase energy while protecting against diseases.
“Gamers, athletes, chess players, the elderly, working professionals and students could all benefit from using carnosine.”
Carnosine has been shown to:
- Improve performance
- Support energy production
- Repair damaged cells
- Remove unwanted metals from the body
- Increase blood flow
- Create a heightened sense of well-being
Several studies have reported that beta-alanine β-alanine (the precursor of Carnosine) can increase high-intensity exercise performance, and lean muscle growth while increasing VO2 max for improved recovery and performance.
Beta-alanine (one of the two amino acid that makes up carnosine) was examined for its effect on performance and exercise capacity.
The results showed that β-alanine increased strength and stamina by 2.57% when supplementing with 179 grams over a 28 day period, averaging at roughly 6.4 grams per day. (04)
While 2.57% might not sound like a lot, but when you consider that in some cases, sporting events are won or lost in milliseconds and millimeters, 2.57% can make a huge difference.
Increases Energy Production
Carnosine has been proven to reverse age-related mitochondrial dysfunction, thus improving the mitochondria and its ability to produce more energy. (05)
For those who might not be aware, the mitochondria is known as; ‘the powerhouse of cellular energy production.’
In short, it creates energy within the body – supporting the mitochondria, where you’ll noticeably feel and see an increase in your energy levels.
Based on the research surrounding the mitochondria and its ability to produce more energy, which is also known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP) – it can improve performance significantly.
This makes supplementation with L-carnosine a viable option for any aspiring athlete. (06)
Carnosine, when supplemented with zinc, has been shown to treat, and, or, reverse bone loss by enhancing bone growth by osteoblasts, which are the cells that form new bone. (07) (08)
Also, additional Carnosine within the body can have a positive effect on estrogen production for improved bone growth and repair.
While estrogen is generally associated with the female sex hormone, and something men wish to avoid when increasing testosterone levels, estrogen can actually have a positive effect on bone growth by improving protein synthesis via 17beta-estradiol. (09)
When low levels of vimentin (a protein associated with bone mass) are found in the body, it’s often linked with lowered bone mass.
By supplementing with carnosine, levels of vimentin can be improved, thus enhancing bone structure and strength. (10)
Enhanced Blood Flow
A lack of blood flow in any circumstance, especially in sports performance can cause fatigue and tiredness as the muscles and brain struggle for a continuous supply of oxygen to perform at its best.
Studies have found that when carnosine was present, it prevented liver damage when blood restriction was an issue – allowing the body to shuttle more oxygen where it was needed.
Thus, highlighting carnosine as a possible aid when blood flow is concerned. (11)
The same can also be said for beta-alanine, as it assists the mitochondria in supplying ATP throughout the body, this, in turn, will also help with an increased blood flow aiding in improved performance.
Removes Unwanted Metals
Some metals are good for our health, such as iron and zinc for example. These are very helpful for improving testosterone and energy levels when performance and daily activities are concerned.
But too much of these vital metals in our body, and we could risk aggravating the onset of certain diseases such as Hemochromatosis which can damage joints and organs if left untreated. (12)
Carnosine is able to chelate these metals, which have all been reported to play an important part in exacerbating Alzheimer’s pathology if not mitigated. (13)
If you’re someone who likes to train hard, then chances are your immune system could be under attack.
A body that’s put under stress often, such as when training multiple times a week at a higher level, causes the immune system to lower, making you susceptible to the common cold or even the flu.
Carnosine has been found to increase the immune response in those with under-active immune systems – reducing oxidative stress that triggers immune weakening. (14)
So, if you have an immune system that constantly faltering, such as those with allergies or those who are put under continuous stress, then taking Carnosine makes perfect sense. (15)
Also, if you want to look after your brain, then, the combination on carnosine and zinc helps the brain tissues to lower their inflammation. Information can lead to brain cell wastage. (16)
One study recorded improved performance in verbal episodic memory tests after supplementing with Carnosine at 500mg/day. (17)
In another study on mental performance, with the use of carnosine (again with 500mg per day) participants improved episodic memory when combined with Anserine & Carnosine – improved memory means better performance at work, gaming, or critical problem-solving to name a few. (18)
When carnosine is taken in combination with polyphenols from blueberry and green tea, and other amino acids, it helped to maintain the health of existing neurons promoting neurogenesis (the process by which neurons are generated). (19)
Carnosine also reduces the onset of age-related mental health issues:
Carnosine can prevent Alzheimer’s by ‘counteracting the build-up of aldehydes and amyloid plaques’. These are considered to be the main causes of Alzheimer’s. (20)
It is thought that mitochondrial dysfunction can be a result of oxidative damage. This plays an important role in Parkinson’s creation. Supplementing with carnosine can suppress the type of oxidative damage linked with Parkinson’s. (21)
Carnosine supports the healthy growth of new tissue through the body. This is especially important for those with tumors, as carnosine inhibits further growth of cancers. (22)
While adenosine-triphosphate ATP is great for energy production, in some areas, such as cancer cells, they are unwanted. They can actually stimulate the growth of cancer cells.
Carnosine can lower ATP levels in cancer cells. In essences, they deprive them of the energy they need to develop further. (23)
Reduces Oxidative Stress
When training volume increases, so will oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can prevent the body from healing itself after intense exercise.
It’s been shown that oxidative stress can inhibit the repair of damaged muscles and brain cells, making the management of oxidative stress build up a must for any sports competitive, or health-concerned person.
Any external stress on the body can cause oxidative stress. One study that looked at severe life stress (SLS) and Oxidative Stress in the brain found a lack of stability in important oxidative properties in the body. (24)
Ice baths are a common way athletes reduce oxidative stress after intense workouts, but, not everyone has access to full body ice baths, let alone that much ice. (25)
One way to combat the damages brought on by oxidative stress is to supplement with carnosine. Carnosine has been shown to reduce the excessive buildup of oxidative stress. (25)
A typical dosage recommendation is anywhere between 1,000 and 5,00mg per day. (26)
For most people, however, 1,00omg is enough to see noticeable results.
As Carnosine is water soluble you don’t need to take it with foods for it to be effective.
If you do take too much Carnosine, you may feel tingling on your skin, this is known as paresthesia, but don’t worry, it’s harmless and it will wear off. (27)
This side effect can be reduced by lowering your dosages, spreading them out throughout the day, such as (0.8–1 g) several times a day.
Carnosine can also create the build-up of lipofuscin. Lipofuscin, an age-related pigment that shows up as brown spots on the brain.
When lipofuscin builds up over time, it has the ability to interfere with cellular and organ functions.
For a strong detoxifier that repairs the body on a cellular level, while increasing energy levels through the production of more ATP, carnosine could be your answer.
It can also reduce oxidative stress brought on by intense workouts. It assists your body in the repair of damaged DNA cells, and prevent the onset of age-related mental health issues.
Overall, it’s a very useful amino acid to consider long-term if you want to live life with strength and longevity.
Another benefit to this amino acid is that it’s naturally occurring in the body, which means; it’s safe to take on a continuous basis if your goals are performance-based.
(01) Dipeptide Wikipedia (Source)
(02) Carnosine: can understanding its actions on energy metabolism and protein homeostasis inform its therapeutic potential? (Source)
(03) Low levels of carnosine linked to various disease (Source)
(04) Effects of β-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis (Source)
(05) Effects of Dietary Supplementation of Carnosine on Mitochondrial Dysfunction, Amyloid Pathology, and Cognitive Deficits in 3xTg-AD Mice. (Source)
(06) Mitochondrion – much more than an energy converter (Source)
(07) Differential effects of transforming growth factor-beta on osteoclast-like cell formation in mouse marrow culture: relation to the effect of zinc-chelating dipeptides. (Source)
(08) Histomorphological confirmation of the preventive effect of beta-alanyl-L-histidine zinc on bone loss in ovariectomized rats. (Source)
(09) Zinc enhancement of 17beta-estradiol’s anabolic effect in osteoblastic MC3T3-E1 cells. (Source)
(10) The cytoskeleton meets the skeleton. Focus on “Deficiency of the intermediate filament synemin reduces bone mass in vivo”. (Source)
(11) The hepatoprotective effect of carnosine against ischemia/reperfusion liver injury in rats. (Source)
(12) Hemochromatosis is a metabolic disorder that affects over 1 million Americans. (Source)
(13) Interactions between carnosine and zinc and copper: implications for neuromodulation and neuroprotection. (Source)
(14) Use of Carnosine for Oxidative Stress Reduction in Different Pathologies (Source)
(15) How to Cure Autoimmune Diseases and Allergies With Oral Tolerance (Source)
(16) Inhibitory effect of carnosine and N-acetyl carnosine on LPS-induced microglial oxidative stress and inflammation. (Souce)
(17) Daily Carnosine and Anserine Supplementation Alters Verbal Episodic Memory and Resting State Network Connectivity in Healthy Elderly Adults (Source)
(18) Effect of Anserine/Carnosine Supplementation on Verbal Episodic Memory in Elderly People. (Source)
(19) NT-020, a natural therapeutic approach to optimize spatial memory performance and increase neural progenitor cell proliferation and decrease inflammation in the aged rat. (Source)
(20) Carnosine, a protective, anti-aging peptide? (Source)
(21) Inhibition of α-Synuclein Fibrillization by Dopamine Is Mediated by Interactions with Five C-Terminal Residues and with E83 in the NAC Region (Source)
(22) Carnosine retards tumor growth in vivo in an NIH3T3-HER2/neu mouse model. (Source)
(23) Carnosine: can understanding its actions on energy metabolism and protein homeostasis inform its therapeutic potential? (Source)
(24) Severe Life Stress and Oxidative Stress in the Brain: From Animal Models to Human Pathology. (Source)
(25) Postexercise Impact of Ice-Cold Water Bath on the Oxidant-Antioxidant Balance in Healthy Men. (Source)
(26) Carnosine Treatment Diminished Oxidative Stress and Glycation Products in Serum and Tissues of D-Galactose-Treated Rats. (Source)
(27) Summary of Beta-Alanine. (Source)