What is carnosine?
Carnosin deals with the biochemical paradox of life: 'The elements that make and give life - oxygen, glucose, lipids, protein, trace metals - also destroy life.'
Carnosine (not to be confused with 'carnitine') is a combination of two amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), alanine and histidine. It naturally occurs in tissues such as the muscles and the brain, but its concentration decreases with advancing age.
How does carnosine work?
Carnosine protects against free radicals (antioxidants)
First, it is an antioxidant that protects our cells from free radical damage. Applied together with vitamin E and other antioxidants, it has optimal effects.
Carnosine extends the lifespan of the cells (glycosylation)
Second, it can reduce the destruction of valuable proteins and DNA by sugar molecules, a process known as glycosylation. The significance of this process has only recently been recognized.
Abnormal combinations of sugar and proteins are very toxic and contribute to several age-related diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer's, dementia and skin aging. Carnosine can help prevent damage from glycosylation, rid the system of abnormal substances and make it work optimally.
Carnosine diverts toxic metals out of the body (chelation)
Third, it binds toxic metals - it reacts with toxic by-products of our metabolism and eliminates them from the body. It stabilizes the cells, makes them more resistant to injuries and strengthens the immune system.
When will I notice a difference?
Early product tests in Scandinavia showed visible improvements in skin, vitality and energy within two months of the intake.
Other benefits of carnosine
Carnosine is said to offer many other benefits, which include: anti-aging, longevity, skin rejuvenation, muscle aging, muscle dysfunction, sexual potency, cataracts, diabetes, cardiovascular, neurological and mental illnesses and other health benefits.
Carnosine for energy and endurance
Carnosine has been administered to Russian athletes and swimmers for years and provides remarkable energy and endurance benefits, with many users reporting a noticeable daily surge in energy.
Carnosine - Anti-aging from the inside out
One of the reasons why older people and animals look different from younger ones has to do with the damage and change in proteins in the body. Proteins are responsible for the functioning of all living organisms. Damage to these proteins therefore has a dramatic effect on all body functions and also on appearance.
Many research results of the past decades have shown that a change of proteins is an important reason for aging and for degenerative diseases. This change results from oxidation (by free radicals) and related processes such as protein-sugar reactions (glycation).
Why do older people look different?
Aging mainly has to do with changes in the proteins in the body. Proteins are the substances that are primarily responsible for the daily function of living organisms, whereby protein changes have a dramatic effect on the function and appearance of the body.
Many studies in the past decade have found that protein change is a major cause of aging and degenerative diseases. These changes result from oxidation (by free radicals) and related processes such as glycation.
Our body is primarily made up of proteins. Because our body's antioxidant system and other defense mechanisms can't fully protect proteins, they tend to change in a destructive manner as we age, mostly due toxidation, glycation and another process called carbonylation. In other words, carbonyl groups (>C=O) attach themselves to the protein molecules (and the phospholipids). The result is that the proteins split during protein splitting (proteolysis).
Because protein carbonylation occurred before the membrane was lost, it can be associated with the toxic process that leads to cell aging and cell death. In order to understand the effects of the proteolytic decline and the formation of abnormal proteins, it is necessary to look at the picture again.
This interrelated protein denaturation and protein cleavage includes oxidation, carbonylation, crosslinking, glycation and the formation of Advanced Glycation End Products (AGE), as explained above. They are not only heavily involved in the aging process, but also in well-known signs such as skin aging, cataracts and nerve degeneration (e.g. memory loss and dementia).
A large number of scientific studies published by researchers from all over the world show that carnosine is effective against all these forms of protein denaturation.
Carnosine reacts with the carbonyl group and forms an inactive protein-carbonyl-carnosine adduct, which protects the proteins and reverses denaturation.
How does carnosine rejuvenate cells?
Carnosine restores normal cell cycle control.
- To understand how this is achieved, think of an engine whose oil is not changed regularly.
- When the lubricating effect of the oil is used up, dirt is created and sludge forms on important parts of the engine. The mud accumulates and prevents the engine from working properly until the engine eventually breaks down.
- When protein 'sludge' accumulates, the cells of the cell cycle become blocked. This could reduce the efficiency of cell division and, perhaps more importantly, allow damaged cells to reproduce.
- The result is increasing chromosomal instability, which leads to degeneration and cancer. Another possible result is cell aging, in which the cell cycle stops.
- The protein carbonylation therefore becomes a potentially fatal disease.
- Carnosine ensures that we have healthy, intact proteins and ensures timely renewal.
Carnosine appears to be far superior to traditional antioxidants, e.g. vitamin E and selenium as they are not as effective as assumed in the past. They suppress some of the numerous pathways involved, while having no effect on others, such as glycation and carbonylation.
Undoubtedly, antioxidants have been found to perform an important biochemical function by preventing reactive oxygen damage. Expecting an antioxidant to protect proteins from any kind of glycation and carbonylation is like trying to build a house with just a screwdriver - an important tool, but it cannot replace the rest of the toolbox.
Carnosine, nature's all-purpose tool for protecting proteins, was created by evolution to control the many factors that work together in the degradation of proteins in the body.
The chemical side reactions that erode the biological structure and function during aging result from toxic effects of the most basic elements of body chemistry - oxygen, sugar, lipids and essential metals. We cannot live without these biochemical elements, but nutritional science is now giving us the knowledge to help us better control side effects.
Proteins are not the only molecules that are denatured by carbonylation - phospholipids are also affected. The carbonylation of phospholipids primarily damages the central and peripheral nervous system and leads to memory problems and other deteriorations in cognitive abilities.
Since carnosine also combats the carbonylation of phospholipids, this dipeptide is a fantastic neuroprotector.
In sports and bodybuilding, carnosine is involved in the detoxification process of the reactive aldehydes from lipid peroxidation, which develop in the skeletal muscles during physical exertion. Carnosine therefore protects the skeletal muscles from injuries, increases muscle strength and accelerates recovery after a strenuous training session.
Carnosine is the most important new anti-aging food supplement
Carnosine is poised to become the most important new anti-aging food supplement on the market. It is a naturally occurring amino acid that was discovered more than 100 years ago.
Although it has been used in Russia for many years, its specific anti-aging effects have recently caught the attention of Western researchers.
Carnosine is usually offered in capsules. No side effects have been observed and it can be taken with other supplements.
L-Carnosine - Pharmaceutical Science and Biochemistry
Carnosine is a 100% natural substance, a so-called dipetid, which consists of two amino acids (ß-alanyl-L-histidine). It is often called a neuropeptide because of its properties to protect the brain.
Carnosine occurs naturally in healthy muscles, the heart, brain, liver, kidneys and other tissues. The muscles contain around 20 μmol/g dry weight. The more carnosine meat contains, the longer its shelf life, since carnosine - a fantastic antioxidant - prevents it from going rancid.
Carnosine acts together with other biological antioxidants, e.g. vitamin E and vitamin C, zinc and selenium, and reduces their consumption in tissues. People with a minor vitamin E deficiency consume more carosene than normal. It is emphasized that a large part of the population suffers from a vitamin E deficiency, which has been proven by worldwide epidemiological studies.
In the human body, the enzyme carnosine synthetase forms carnosine from the amino acids alanine and histidine. This reaction mainly takes place in the brain and muscles. Another group of enzymes, called dipeptidases or carnosinases, deactivates carnosine in the blood and other tissues.
Meat is the main food source of carnosine. High doses of carnosine are necessary for a therapeutic effect because the body naturally breaks down carnosine through the enzyme carnosinase. The consumption of carnosine from food is 30 to 70% (depending on the amount of different amino acids in the meat), that of pure L-carnosine is higher than 70%.
Much of the intake takes place in the small intestine (in the jejunum, but not in the ileum). Carnosine is transported from the blood to the muscles, the brain and other tissues. Human plasma does not contain measurable amounts of carnosine - in other words, a possible deficiency can't be determined by a blood test.
In contrast, horse plasma contains over 100 µmol/l carnosine. As a result of muscle injuries, the amount in plasma increases and the determination of carnosine in plasma can be used to diagnose muscle injuries.
The biological functions of L-carnosine
- Buffering the effects of lactic acid in the muscles (the pH remains neutral even during intensive training sessions such as sprints)
- Pluripotent antioxidant effects
- Ability to deactivate reactive oxygen species, elimination of free radicals
- Sequestration of aldehyde
- Prevention of glycation
- Prevention of carbonylation of proteins, e.g. 'carnosinylation'
- Function as a neurotransmitter
- Protection from proteasomes
- Chelation of metals
L-Carnosine - A Brief Historical Review
Carnosine was invented by the Russian scientist W.S. Gulewich discovered who also determined its structure. It was the first and simplest example of biologically active peptides (actually a dipeptide) and opened the long list of widely used natural protein regulators of metabolism.
The first decades were devoted to studies of the structure, distribution and properties of the compound. Carnosine has been found to be directly related to the function of excitable tissues such as muscles and the brain.
In the year 1953, another Russian scientist, S.E. Severin stated that carnosine effectively buffers lactic acid, which is produced by working muscles and that taking carnosine increases muscle contraction and endurance.
When carnosine is broken down, lactic acid builds up in the muscles, the pH drops and the muscles become tired. When carnosine is added, the muscles recover almost instantly and contract as if they had never been exhausted. This is known as the 'Severin phenomenon'.
Anyone with athletic experience knows what physical fatigue feels like, and he or she will understand the incredible importance of taking carnosine supplements at sports events.
The widespread interest in this natural, safe substance has recently increased further, as dramatic Australian and British discoveries have shown it to be anti-aging. The anti-aging properties of carnosine have only been studied in detail in recent years, although we have known about them for almost a century.
The most amazing research results came from the United States in 2002, where the team of Dr. Michael Chez provided data on the dramatic effects of carnosine on autistic children. By now, there are more than 900 published studies on carnosine.
The history of carnosine as a medicinal and nutritional supplement
A wide range of therapeutic applications have been proposed for this remarkable substance. As early as 1935, carnosine was recognized for the treatment of polyarthritis. Carnosine has the remarkable ability to slow down and accelerate excess cellular and enzymatic processes when suppressed.
Several recent studies show that a combination of zinc and carnosine can protect the gastric mucosa from various irritants and is effective as an ulcer-preventing substance (Odashima et al. 2002). For example, carnosine reduces platelet clotting in patients with an abnormal tendency to clot ('it dilutes the blood') and increases clotting in patients with reduced blood clotting.
Carnosine has protective effects on the blood cell membranes, which prolongs their survival, and has shown cell membrane stabilizing effects, thereby protecting against chemically induced hemolytic anemia.
Benefits of carnosine
- Safe, naturally present in foods and the body
- Versatile antioxidant and aldehyde scavenger
- Traps hydroxyl, superoxide and peroxyl radicals
- Excellent protection of chromosomes against oxygen damage
- Suppresses lipid peroxidation
- Most effective natural glycation fighter
- Prevents the formation of AGEs
- Protects proteins from the toxicity of AGEs
- Protects proteins from cross-linking
- Multifunctional protein and phospholipid protection
- Protects against the formation of protein carbonyls, the hallmark of protein damage
- Prevents damaged proteins by protecting the proteasomes
- Helps maintain normal protein turnover
- Extends the lifespan of accelerated aging mice by 20%
- Dramatically improves the behavior and appearance of old mice
- Dramatic effects on autism spectrum disorders
- Protects the brain cells from excitotoxicity
- Protects the proteins and biochemistry of the brain
- Maintains the brain's biochemical functions
- Protects brain chemistry in diseases that lead to overproduction of free radicals
- Rejuvenates aged human cells in culture
- Increases the lifespan of the cells
- Restores the youthful appearance and growth pattern of cells approaching aging
- Protects against the toxicity of metals
- Chelation of copper and zinc
- Naturally protects against the toxicity of copper-zinc in the brain
- Copper-zinc chelators dissolve the Alzheimer's glands
- Prevents amyloid beta cross-linking in Alzheimer's glands
Effect of carnosine - The super peptide
L-carnosine is a known neuropeptide consisting of alanine and histidine (beta-alanyl-L-histidine). It is normally produced in the human body and is found in large quantities in the brain, the innervated tissue, the lenses of the eyes and the skeletal muscle tissue.
Laboratory studies have shown that carnosine has the ability to protect cells from oxidative stress and to strengthen their resistance to functional fatigue and the accumulation of senile characteristics.
The mechanisms of such protection are explained in the following terms:
- Proton buffering (maintaining the pH balance in the muscles during intensive training sessions)
- Chelation of heavy metals (especially copper and zinc)
- Free radical and active sugar scavenger (prevents glycation and carbonylation of proteins)
- Prevents the change of biomacromolecules and therefore maintains their natural function under oxidative stress
- Physiological concentrations (20 - 30 micromoles or mM) in standard carriers
- Prolongs life of human fibroblasts in a test tube and greatly reduces the normal processes of aging. In test animals, carnosine greatly improved the external appearance and produced visible positive effects regarding behavioral parameters and the average lifespan.
Age-related diseases that carnosine can help against include:
- Neurological degeneration (Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, epilepsy, depression, schizophrenia, mild cognitive impairment, dementia and stroke)
- Autism spectrum disorders, Asperger syndrome, ADHD, dyslexia
- Cellular aging (aging) in general
- Networking of the lens of the eye (cataracts)
- Cross-linking of skin collagen (skin aging)
- Formation of Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs)
- Accumulation of damaged proteins
- Muscular dystrophy
- Deficits in blood flow to the brain (stroke)
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Diabetes and its complications
Carnosine as a multifunctional food supplement is a relatively new discovery. It is an impressive physiological and 100% natural super antixoid with numerous biological functions included (in addition to the above):
- Universal and versatile antioxidant effect
- Support the vitality of the muscles
- Increase in muscle strength and endurance
- Faster recovery after sprints
- Prevents cell damage from alcohol
Carnosine side effects
No side effects of carnosine are currently known.
Carnosine - A multipotent super antioxidant
Carnosine is an antioxidant that stabilizes and protects the cell membrane. Specifically, as a water-soluble scavenger of free radicals, it prevents lipid peroxidation within the cell membrane.
Many antioxidants (like vitamins E and C) aim to prevent free radicals from entering tissue, but have no effect after this first protective layer is broken. Free radicals lead to oxidative stress in the body.
Carnosine is not only effective in the prevention, but also acts actively after free radicals react and form other dangerous compounds such as lipid peroxides and secondary products. It therefore protects the tissue against these harmful 'second stage' chemicals.
For example, a highly reactive end product of lipid peroxidation called malondialdehyde or MDA, a dangerous product of free radical reaction, is blocked by carnosine. If left uncontrolled, MDA can damage lipids, enzymes, and DNA, and it has a role in atherosclerosis, joint inflammation, cataracts and general aging.
Carnosine sacrifices itself as a mediator in oxidative stress by reacting with MDA and deactivating it to protect the amino acids on the protein molecule. Carnosine reacts chemically with all reactive types of oxygen and thereby prevents oxidative stress.
A fairly unusual, antioxidant property of carnosine is its ability to reduce the levels of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS).
Carnosine is a substance that protects and extends the functional life of the most important building blocks of the body - cells, DNA and lipids - and can therefore be called an active ingredient for longevity.
By interacting with aldehydic lipid oxidation products, carnosine protects biological tissue from oxidation, since aldehydes can form adducts with DNA, proteins, enzymes, and lipoproteins, which lead to deleterious changes in their biological activity. (Burcham et al. 2002).
Oxidative stress and trauma can lead to a reduction in carnosine levels, which can help explain the increased mortality of older people after stressful events. Therefore, a good antioxidant defense is essential for good health, especially for the elderly.
Carnosine is a total solution - a super antioxidant pill for everyone who doesn't want to swallow a handful of tablets every day. The anti-aging properties of carnosine go far beyond its antioxidant effects, as you will soon learn.
Many researchers believe that carnosine's health benefits - at least in part - are based on its ability to chelate metals. (Miller and O'Dowd 2000, Chez 2003).
What does that mean in simple terms?
The term 'chelate' comes from the Greek 'chele' for 'claw' and refers to the ability of a material to combine with excess metals in the cells and bloodstream so that the liver and kidneys can excrete them.
The chelation therapy is usually given in the form of multiple intravenous infusions containing disodium EDTA and various other substances such as penicillin. Chelation therapy is traditionally used in occupational medicine because it effectively removes toxic heavy metals (such as lead) from the body.
In occupational medicine, chelation therapy is conventional medicine, not an alternative treatment. However, chelation therapy is also used in private clinics as an additional treatment for a variety of other diseases that are not poisoning with heavy metals, as it can have the following advantages:
- Dilated arteries
- Reduction of high blood pressure
- Reduce the activity of free radicals
- Improve the uptake of oxygen in the cells
- Removal of toxic heavy metals from the body
- Memory improvement
- Relief of pain in the extremities
- Increased elasticity of the blood vessels
- Improve blood flow to the heart, brain, organs and legs
- Enhance enzyme activity
Vaccinations & mercury
In connection with vaccinations, chelation with carnosine can be crucial because it removes organic mercury (thiomersal or thimerosal) from the child.
Organic mercury is found in most vaccines as an antimicrobial preservative, although it has been recognized as a toxic substance that attacks the central nervous system since the 1930s.
In our opinion, every vaccinated child and adult should take carnosine as a precaution to remove thiomersal from the body as soon as possible.
EDTA chelation therapy & arteriosclerosis
The chelation therapy became a popular 'alternative' treatment after EDTA was found to be effective in chelating and removing toxic metals from the blood. Some researchers believe that hardened arteries may become softer if the calcium is removed from their walls.
The first indication that EDTA treatment could help patent patients with atherosclerosis came from Clarke, Clarke, and Mosher, who reported in 1956 that people who had occlusive peripheral arterial disease felt better after being treated with EDTA.
As a dietary supplement, carnosine appears to have the same chelating properties as EDTA and offers the possibility of a convenient oral chelation therapy. Carnosine has the ability to chelate prooxidative metals such as copper, zinc and toxic heavy metals (lead, mercury, cadmium, nickel).
Carnosine and anti-aging
Due to its anti-glycation effects, carnosine can be helpful preventing and treating diabetic complications such as cataracts, nerve diseases, arteriosclerosis and kidney failure.
It can also be helpful for all of us as we all age through AGEs, but not as quickly as a diabetic. The latest research shows that the most important effect of carnosine is its effect against glycation (Aldini et al 2002a, 2002b, Yeargans and Seidler 2003).
What is glycation?
I will try to explain this to you in a simple way.
- Every second there is a destructive process in the body called 'glycation'.
- Glycation can be described as the binding of a protein molecule to a glucose molecule, which leads to the formation of damaged, non-functioning structures.
- The glycation changes the protein structure and reduces the biological activity.
- Glycated proteins that accumulate in the affected tissue are remarkable markers of diseases. Many diseases associated with age, such as arterial stiffening, cataracts or neurological impairments, are at least partially attributable to glycation.
Carnosine, which prevents glycation, can also play a role in the removal of glycated protein. Carnosinylation (the process by which carnosine binds to denatured molecules) marks glycated proteins for cell removal.
The glycation, also known in biochemistry as the Maillard reaction that takes place between proteins and glucose, is described as the main factor in the aging process and possibly cancer, as well as for the complications of diabetes. Glucose provides the fuel for glycation, the insidious protein/glucose combination that (after several steps, including the oxidation process) results in the formation of Advanced Glycation End Products, or AGEs.
As soon as AGEs are formed, they interact with the neighboring proteins to form pathological cross-links that harden the tissue. It has been speculated that no other molecule has potentially toxic effects on proteins as Advanced Glycation End Products. Diabetics form excessive amounts of AGEs earlier than non-diabetics, a process that disturbs the normality of the organs, which depend on flexibility and function. The glycation has been shown to harden the arteries of diabetics.
AGEs trigger a chain reaction on destructive events because AGEs attach themselves to cellular binding sites. One of the consequences of AGEs is a 50-fold increase in free radical formation. Because diabetes, a condition of accelerated aging, produces a large number of AGEs, the arteries, the lens and the retina of the eyes, the peripheral nerves and the kidneys are primarily attacked.
By fighting glycation, glomerular damage and the resulting inflammation and kidney shrinkage are reduced. Rats with diabetes not treated with glycation inhibitors showed a double increase in the glomerular staining of Advanced Glycation End Products compared to a similar group of rats with diabetes (Forbes et al., 2001).
Cataracts (another complication of diabetes) can also develop due to glycation, while glycation inhibitors such as carnosine and calcium pyruvate protect against such damages. Taking glycation inhibitors enables people to prevent many of the aging problems.
Since the structure of carnosine resembles the sites attacked by glycation agents, it appears that carnosine sacrifices to protect the target. Carnosine also supports proteolytic pathways, i.e. the removal of damaged and unnecessary proteins.
Due to its anti-glycation effects, carnosine can be useful for the prevention and treatment of diabetic complications such as cataracts, nervous diseases, arteriosclerosis and kidney failure. It can also be helpful for all of us because AGEs make us all age - but less quickly than diabetics.
The interest in carnosine has increased significantly in the past years and many experts predict that it will become one of the most important nutritional supplements for people of all ages, especially those over 40 years of age.
In America and Great Britain, anti-aging specialists and nutritionists recommend carnosine as a valuable nutritional supplement. There are no known side effects or intolerances to other medications.
Laboratory research about cellular aging (the end of the life cycle of the dividing cells) suggests that these factors can't be accidental. Carnosine has the remarkable ability to rejuvenate cells that are nearing aging, thereby restoring normal appearance and extending the life of the cells.
Carnosine is an aldehyde scavenger that can also remove waste (and therefore decouple damaged proteins, sugar and phospholipids) and acts as a key factor in the construction of the new, more robust towers.
As a dietary supplement, carnosine is a possible regulator of diabetic complications, arteriosclerosis, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, epilepsy, autism, dyslexia, ADHD, schizophrenia, and related syndromes, as we'll discuss in more detail later in this chapter.
Copper and zinc are released during normal synaptic activity. In slightly acidic environments, which are characteristic of Alzheimer's, they are reduced to their ionic forms and therefore toxic to the nervous system. Research has shown that carnosine can buffer the toxicity of copper and zinc in the brain.
Carnosine has been shown in vitro (in a test tube) to hinder non-enzymatic glycosylation and the cross-linking of proteins derived from reactive aldehydes, including aldose and ketose sugars and to stimulate certain glycolytic triose intermediates and malondialdehyde (MDA, a lipid peroxidation product).
Carnosine also prevents the formation of MDA-induced, protein-related Advanced Glycosylation End Products (AGE) and the formation of DNA-protein cross-links, which are caused by acetaldehyde and formaldehyde. The liquid peroxidation product malondialdehyde forms adducts with proteins that are found during routine examinations after protein carbonylation.