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L-Carnosine: An Anti-Aging Nutrient

Source: Vitamin Retailer-July 2010
By: Janet Poveromo

Not to be confused with camitine, carnosine is a small, naturally occurring dipeptide composed of two amino acids, histidine and alanine. It is found in relatively high concentrations in several body tissues, but most notably in skeletal muscle, heart muscle, nerve tissue and in the brain. Carnosine levels are abundant at youth and decline with age. Stress and trauma may also cause a reduction in levels.

Over the years, carnosine has come to be known as an anti-aging nutrient. In fact, it is often referred to as one of the nutrients for longevity. However, the exact biological role of carnosine is not well understood, but many studies indicate that it harbors strong and specific antioxidant properties, including anti-aging actions.

Researchers in Britain, South Korea, Russia and other countries have shown that carnosine has a number of antioxidant properties that may be beneficial. Carnosine has been proven to scavenge reactive oxygen species (ROS) as well as alpha-beta unsaturated aldehydes formed from peroxidation of cell membrane fatty acids during oxidative stress.

Numerous animal studies indicate carnosine protects against radiation damage, improves heart function and promotes wound healing. It is thought that this unique dipeptide is the water-soluble counterpart to vitamin E in protecting cell membranes from oxidative damage.

Carnosine also possesses other suggested roles such as a modulator of enzyme activities and chelator of heavy metals (i.e., a substance that binds heavy metals, possibly reducing their toxicity to the body). In addition, it appears to act as a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger in the nervous system).

L-carnosine is touted as the “anti-aging nutrient” because of its favorable effects on inhibiting the formation of age-inducing substances called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Moreover, it binds to already formed AGEs and inactivates them.

In addition, laboratory studies have shown that it can rejuvenate senescent cells (the end of the life cycle of dividing cells), thus restoring and extending cellular normal life span.

Benefits of L-carnosine

Based on preliminary studies, L-carnosine may be useful to:

  • Benefit in complications associated with diabetes, cataracts, kidney failure and neuropathy
  • Help to slow down the aging of skin, minimizing wrinkles and the breakdown of skin elasticity
  • Benefit in the prevention of atherosclerosis, joint inflammation and cataract formation
  • Reduce and prevent cell damage caused by beta amyloid, a substance found in the brain of Alzheimer sufferers.