As for carnosine’s appearance, it’s a white and a colourless solid that is soluble in water with a dipeptide molecular structure. What does all of this mean? This means 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 – making it possible to cross the blood-brain barrier. (I)
Within your own body, you’ll find carnosine in high concentrations in your muscles and brain tissue. And as for foods, you can find carnosine in fish, poultry, and beef, and also in supplementation form. (II)
In human studies, low levels of carnosine have been linked to various diseases that could have been prevented with the presence of carnosine, such as those associated with mental decline. (III)
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. This is because it works with the body to increase energy while protecting against diseases. On a practical level, gamers, athletes, chess players, the elderly, working professionals, and even and students could all benefit from using carnosine.
- 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 (the precursor of carnosine) can increase high-intensity exercise performance and lean muscle growth and growth hormone 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 beta-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. (IV)
While 2.57% might not sound like a lot, just consider that in some cases sporting events are won or lost in milliseconds and millimetres, 2.57% can make a huge difference.
Increases Energy Production
For those who might not be aware, the mitochondria is; ‘the powerhouse of cellular energy production.’
In short, the mitochondria (when assisted by carnosine) creates more energy within the body. In summary, you’ll noticeably feel and see an increase in your energy levels when using carnosine.
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. (VI)
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 may wish to avoid for increasing testosterone levels – estrogen can actually have a positive effect on bone growth by improving protein synthesis via 17 beta-estradiol. (IX)
Furthermore, 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. (X)
Enhanced Blood Flow
A lack of blood flow in any circumstance, especially within sports performance can cause fatigue and tiredness as your muscles and brain will 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. This highlights carnosine as a viable aid where improved blood flow is concerned. (XI)
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 giving you an improved performance.
Removes Unwanted Metals
However, if you have too many of these vital metals in your body, could risk aggravating the onset of certain diseases. Such as hemochromatosis, which can damage joints and organs if left untreated. (XII)
These metals, which have been reported to play a part in aggravating Alzheimer’s pathology, can be lessened with carnosine. (XIII)
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 training multiple times a week at a high level, lowers your immune system – making you susceptible to the common cold or even the flu.
So, if you have an immune system that’s constantly failing on you, such as those with allergies or those of you who are put under continuous stress. Then, by taking carnosine could help you to fight off infections and illnesses. (XV)
Furthermore, if you want to look after your brain, the combination of carnosine and zinc helps your brain tissues to lower their inflammation. This inflammation, if not kept in check can lead to brain cell wastage. (XVI)
One study recorded improved performance in verbal episodic memory tests after supplementing with carnosine at 500mg/day. (XVII)
In another study on mental performance with the use of carnosine (again with 500mg per day), participants improved episodic memory when combining anserine & carnosine. Improved memory means better performance at work, gaming, or critical problem-solving during sports and competitions to name a few. (XVIII)
And finally, when carnosine is taken in combination with polyphenols from blueberry and green tea, it helped to maintain the health of existing neurons promoting neurogenesis (the process by which neurons are generated). (XIX)
Prevents Cancer Growth
Carnosine supports the healthy growth of new tissue through the body. This is especially important for those with tumours, as carnosine inhibits further growth of cancers. (XX)
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. (XXI)
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 or health-concerned person.
Just to give you an example; One study that looked at severe life stress (SLS) and oxidative stress in the brain, found that oxidative stress can reduce the bodies ability to produce antioxidants – which could then lead to the development of common illnesses. (XXII)
So, how can you reduce oxidative stress? 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. (XXIII) 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 by helping the body to flush out toxins while protecting the central nervous system.
A typical dosage recommendation is anywhere between 1,000 and 5,00mg per day. (XXIV) For most people, 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, and as it can cross the blood-brain barrier, it gets to work in a short space of time.
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 after a short space of time. (XXV) 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 is 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.
If lipofuscin goes left unchecked, it’s been shown to aggravate certain diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Now, if this is a concern for you, where you find yourself taking carnosine on a regular basis, then you may want to consider using acetyl-l-carnitine alongside carnosine, as it flushes out lipofuscin from the brain and other areas of the body – working hand in hand. (XXVI)
Sport Nutrition Recommendation?
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 reduce oxidative stress brought on by intense workouts. It assists your body in the repair of damaged DNA cells and it prevents the onset of age-related mental health issues in some cases. Overall, it’s a very useful amino acid to consider long-term if you want to live life with strength and longevity.
However, you must bear in mind that it builds up lipofuscin over long periods of use. So it’s best taken with other supplements like acetyl-l-carnitine to help remove these age-related ‘brown spots’.
Just to finish off, one last benefit to this amino acid is that it’s naturally occurring in the body, which means; it’s safe to take for most people posing no adverse side effects other than those I’ve already listed.
(I) Dipeptide Wikipedia (Source)
(II) Carnosine: can understanding its actions on energy metabolism and protein homeostasis inform its therapeutic potential? (Source)
(III) Low levels of carnosine linked to various disease (Source)
(IV) Effects of β-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis (Source)
(V) Effects of Dietary Supplementation of Carnosine on Mitochondrial Dysfunction, Amyloid Pathology, and Cognitive Deficits in 3xTg-AD Mice. (Source)
(VI) Mitochondrion – much more than an energy converter (Source)
(VII) 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)
(VIII) Histomorphological confirmation of the preventive effect of beta-alanyl-L-histidine zinc on bone loss in ovariectomized rats. (Source)
(IX) Zinc enhancement of 17beta-estradiol’s anabolic effect in osteoblastic MC3T3-E1 cells. (Source)
(X) The cytoskeleton meets the skeleton. Focus on “Deficiency of the intermediate filament synemin reduces bone mass in vivo”. (Source)
(XI) The hepatoprotective effect of carnosine against ischemia/reperfusion liver injury in rats. (Source)
(XII) Hemochromatosis is a metabolic disorder that affects over 1 million Americans. (Source)
(XIII) Interactions between carnosine and zinc and copper: implications for neuromodulation and neuroprotection. (Source)
(XIV) Use of Carnosine for Oxidative Stress Reduction in Different Pathologies (Source)
(XV) How to Cure Autoimmune Diseases and Allergies With Oral Tolerance (Source)
(XVI) Inhibitory effect of carnosine and N-acetyl carnosine on LPS-induced microglial oxidative stress and inflammation. (Souce)
(XVII) Daily Carnosine and Anserine Supplementation Alters Verbal Episodic Memory and Resting State Network Connectivity in Healthy Elderly Adults (Source)
(XVIII) Effect of Anserine/Carnosine Supplementation on Verbal Episodic Memory in Elderly People. (Source)
(XIX) 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)
(XX) Carnosine retards tumour growth in vivo in an NIH3T3-HER2/neu mouse model. (Source)
(XXI) Carnosine: can understanding its actions on energy metabolism and protein homeostasis inform its therapeutic potential? (Source)
(XXII) Severe Life Stress and Oxidative Stress in the Brain: From Animal Models to Human Pathology. (Source)
(XXIII) Postexercise Impact of Ice-Cold Water Bath on the Oxidant-Antioxidant Balance in Healthy Men. (Source)
(XXIV) Carnosine Treatment Diminished Oxidative Stress and Glycation Products in Serum and Tissues of D-Galactose-Treated Rats. (Source)
(XXV) Summary of Beta-Alanine. (Source)
(XXVI) “End Of Old Age.” Reverse Aging & Natural Anti-Aging Program — End Of Old Age Barron Report, jonbarron.org/anti-aging/end-old-age. (source)