Carnosine is a protein building block that is naturally produced in the body and is concentrated in muscles when they are working. It is also found in the heart, brain, and many other parts of the body.
L-carnosine is a combination of L-histidine and beta-alanine, both are being nonessential amino acids.
Carnosine is important for the healthy development and functioning of the brain, muscles, liver, heart, and kidneys.
The exact biological role is not fully understood at the moment, but studies indicate that carnosine has excellent antioxidant potential, and may also act as a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger in the nervous system).
Carnosine has been called a longevity nutrient following laboratory studies on tissues, which indicate that it can delay aging and provoke cellular rejuvenation.
Carnosine has been referred to as the anti-aging and anti-oxidant dipeptide, and it appears to be a promising nutrient with much potential.
Carnosine has been revealed to act as a proton buffer, an antioxidant, a protein glycosylation inhibitor, a metal chelator, an antiaging agent, and a protein cross-linking inhibitor.
It also protects against oxidative stress and traps lipid-derived aldehydes, helping to regulate contractility and calcium utilization inside cardiac tissue cells.
Carnosine supplements are commonly used by bodybuilders and other athletes to boost endurance, prevent muscle fatigue, and improve stamina by acting as an acid buffer in muscle tissue.
Effectiveness of Carnosine
Research suggests that oral consumption of L-carnosine for 8 weeks may improve symptoms in children with autistic spectrum disorders.
A study of 31 children conducted by the Autism and Epilepsy Specialty Services of Illinois reported in the November 2002 “Journal of Child Neurology” that treatment with carnosine for eight weeks improved performance on several markers that measure autistic behaviors.
Children who received the placebo made no gains, and it was surmised that carnosine may improve neurologic function.
Although a number of published papers, acknowledge the potential for carnosine to improve symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, actual studies on the benefits are still not there.
Potential benefits were based on the fact that carnosine inhibits advanced glycation end products, called AGEs, which contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.
A study published in “Biochemistry “on May 14, 2009, found that carnosine prevented or reversed cataracts in rat lenses exposed to substances that induce cataract formation and carnosine.
The lead author suggests that decreased carnosine levels in the lens as a result of aging may contribute to cataract formation.
A study conducted by Mark Babizhayev MA, Ph.D., of Innovative Vision Products, reported an improvement in vision in a test group of 49 people with senile cataracts, using eye drops containing carnosine.
However, more human studies are required to establish a definite benefit for carnosine use in cataracts.
L-Carnosine for Muscle Building
L-carnosine is an acid buffer inside muscle tissue, which acts to absorb hydrogen protons (H+), helping to maintain optimal pH balance.
When we exercise at a high level of intensity, lactic acid is produced in the muscles as a natural by-product of anaerobic metabolism, resulting in the “burning” effect that some experience when their muscles are overworked.
However, carnosine buffers against the effects of acid build-up in the muscles and may prevent or delay the “burning” effect.
Thus, by delaying the onset of muscle fatigue, carnosine may improve exercise stamina and generally increase endurance performance.
This could potentially lead to increased muscle mass gains if it allows athletes to train harder.
L-Carnosine Side Effects
There are limited data concerning L-carnosine side effects, but several studies have established carnosine to have very low toxicity levels.
A review of multiple clinical trials showed that no adverse effects were reported among test subjects, and other research suggests that L-carnosine is safe for proper ophthalmologic use for up to 2 years.
However, there are possibilities for certain neurological and central nervous system carnosine side effects.
In one double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 31 children with autism spectrum disorders were studied for 8 weeks, and sporadic hyperactivity was noted.
It was noted that this side effect can be alleviated by decreasing the dosage level.
There is not enough information about carnosine to determine its complete scope of interaction potentials, but it is known that L-carnosine does possess hypoglycemic potentials.
It has caused transient hypotension in the past, and use with antihypertensive medications or herbal supplements that affect blood glucose levels is not recommended.
A doctor’s advice is recommended before starting out any supplementation program.