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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.34567
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 for surgery.8
- protect against the formation of gastric ulcers, and help heal existing ulcers910
- help eradicate Helicobacter pylori, an organism that has been linked to peptic ulcer and stomach cancer11
- reduce or completely prevent cell damage caused by beta amyloid12, the substance found in the brain of Alzheimer's disease patients
- help protect against cataract formation
- protect against the effect of glucose damage and protein oxidation
- 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 70.13
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 nutritional supplement.
As a potent antioxidant, carnosine stabilizes and protects the cell membrane by quenching the most destructive of free radicals— the hydroxyl radical—as 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.15 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).1617 If left unchecked, MDA can cause damage to lipids, enzymes and DNA, and contribute to atherosclerosis, joint inflammation, cataract formation, and aging in general.
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This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always consult with a physician before embarking on a dietary supplement program.
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Preston J et al. Toxic effects of B-amyloid on immortalized rat brain endothelial cell: protection by carnosine, homocarnosine and B-alanine. Neuroscience Letters 1998, 242; 105-108.
Stuerenburg HJ, Kunze K; Concentrations of free carnosine (a putative membrane-protective antioxidant) in human muscle Biopsies and rat muscles. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 1999, 29: 107-113.
Tarnha M, et al. Hydroxyl radical scavenging by carnosine and Cu(ii)-carm)sine complexes. Int J Radial Biol, 1999 75(9):1 177-1188.
Hipkiss A. et al. Protective effects of carnosine against MDA-induced toxicity towards cultured rat brain endothelial cells. Neuroscience Letters. 1997. 135-138.
Hipkiss A. et al. Protective effects of carnosine against protein modification mediated by nialondialdchyde and hypochlorite. Bioch Biophys Acta 1998, 1380;46-54.
Stadtman ER. Protein oxidation and aging. Science. 1992; 257(5074):1220-4.
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Hipkiss AR, Brownson C. A possible new role for the anti-aging peptide carnosine. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2000; 57(5):747-53.
Bierhaus A, Hofmann MA, Ziegler R, et al. AGEs and their interaction with AGE-receptors in vascular disease and diabetes mellitus. I. The AGE concept. Cardiovascular Research. 1998; 37(3):586-600.
Munch G, Schinzel R, Loske C, et al. Alzheimer's disease--synergistic effects of glucose deficit, oxidative stress and advanced glycation end products. Journal of Neural Transmission. 1998; 105(4-5):439-61.
Ilipkiss A, Ghana 14. Carnosine protects proteins against rnelhyiglyoxal-mediated modicatiations. Biochem Biophys Rcs Goinm 1998. 248 (1); 28-32.
Boldyrev AA, Gallant SC, Sukhich GT. Carnosine, the protective, anti-aging peptide. Biosci Rep 1999 Dec;19(6):581-7