Carnosine Food Sources and Dietary Requirements
What you will learn...
Carnosine food sources include red meats, some seafood, and other high-protein sources. Carnosine is formed by the chemical combination of two amino acids, beta-alanine, and histidine that occurs naturally in animals and humans, especially in brain and muscle cells.
Research has even shown that there is a direct correlation between carnosine levels and lifespan. This is according to a report in the 2003 “Bulletin of Experimental Biology and Medicine.”
A similar research did show that carnosine possesses antiglycation, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, proton-buffering and other traits which help to impede the effects of aging.
Carnosine has rejuvenating and antioxidant effects on cellular, protein, lipid and DNA structures, helping to protect these structures from destructive free radicals, and is also used to enhance athletic performance and stamina.
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Carnosine supplements are widely available and can be found in various food sources. However, eating dietary carnosine is not the most effective way to increase carnosine levels in the body, because it is quickly degraded when consumed.
Significance of Eating Carnosine-Rich Foods
Carnosine rejuvenates cellular health by providing strong antioxidant effects on the cells of the body.
By scavenging damaging free radical agents, carnosine helps to maintain the health of lipids, DNA, proteins, cells, and cellular components.
Consuming carnosine-rich food sources can also help to reduce total-body low-grade inflammation, which is linked with numerous ailments and diseases.
One of the main reasons to consume a diet rich in carnosine sources is due to the anti-glycation effects of this supplement, which offers anti-aging benefits.
Glycation is the bonding of a sugar to a lipid or protein molecule, and when sugars bind to proteins, the protein strands become adherent.
This adhesiveness encourages the process of protein strand cross-linking, but increased consumption of carnosine foods may help to decrease protein glycation.
Proteins are responsible for many functions in the body, and protein cross-linking can cause individual protein strands to become dysfunctional or non-functional.
Dysfunctional and/or nonfunctional proteins resulting from cross-linking are called advanced glycation end products (AGEs).
When these end products (AGEs) accumulate in the body, risks for degenerative diseases significantly increase, and the effects of aging become more noticeable.
However, increased carnosine levels are connected with decreased age-related protein impairment.
Carnosine’s main claim is its ability to inhibit AGE (Advanced Glycation End) products, which is valuable for treating and preventing a range of other diseases. This benefit leads to other health benefits and uses, such as:
- Improved cognitive function
- Heart health
- Kidney health
- Autism Spectrum Disorder, and
- Eye health
Carnosine Digestion and Synthesis
Upon consumption, carnosine is broken down in the gastrointestinal tract into its elements. Some intact carnosine does leak the gastro-intestinal tract freely but that small amount is quickly broken down in the blood by the enzyme carnosinase.
Carnosinase is known to hydrolyze carnosine and other dipeptides containing histidine into their constituent amino acids.
This means that, after consuming meat or other high protein foods, all of the carnosine that was ingested is converted to beta-alanine and histidine, which are converted back to carnosine in the muscles and used or transported where needed.
The entire process of carnosine synthesis is still under study, and not entirely understood, but it is worth noting that consuming carnosine from meat is needless, as it will be converted into beta-alanine and histidine anyway. Beta-alanine and histidine are both available in many raw whole foods.
Carnosine Food Sources
White meat from chicken, turkey and other fowl are low-fat carnosine food sources, and their moist tissue samples range in carnosine content from 0.01 to 0.1 percent.
Aquatic sources like Salmon, swordfish, tuna and certain other fish provide carnosine as well, but in lower amounts than fowl.
Yellowfin tuna contains roughly 0.005% carnosine, and eel contains roughly 0.05% carnosine, providing roughly 0.09 grams per 6-ounce portion.
Consuming too much red meat is associated with various health risks, however, beef, lamb, and other red meats provide as much or more carnosine than fowl sources.
The bad news is that they also contain significantly higher amounts of unhealthy (saturated) fats.
Carnosine Sources for Vegans
Vegans and vegetarians strictly avoid all animal products, and some allow the consumption of dairy products, although they still refrain from eating meats.
While there is a small amount of carnosine to be gained from eggs and certain high-protein dairy products, vegans are known to experience low carnosine levels.
Because carnosine is vital for several health purposes, it is needed by all humans, vegetarians inclusive.
Carnosine deficiencies decrease anti-glycation potentials inside the body and can cause disease outbreaks and premature aging.
Vegans and vegetarians are advised to routinely supplement their diets with a quality carnosine supplement.