L-Carnosine Benefits and Side Effects
L-carnosine is a compound that consists of two amino acids, beta-alanine and histidine. Such combinations of amino acids are known as dipeptides. L-carnosine has antioxidant properties that help to protect the body from the damage caused by oxidation, a natural process that is a result of chemical reactions that take place in the body every day. Oxidative damage, also know as free radical damage, contributes to degenerative disease and aging. In youth, L-carnosine is found in abundance in muscle and brain tissue, but it begins to decline naturally with age. Since it is found in muscle tissue, the best food source of L-carnosine are meat, poultry, and fish. For people who do not eat enough complete protein or for those with specific health concerns that may respond to L-carnosine, supplements may be useful. L-carnosine supplements can have several positive effects on health, most of which are related to its ability to neutralize free radical damage. For example, L-carnosine can reduce the protein and DNA damage caused by a process called glycosylation. Glycosylation occurs when sugars and proteins combine in abnormal ways, a process that contributes to the pathology of conditions like heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and skin damage. Also, reactive metal ions that are produced by various metabolic reactions in the body are bound by L-carnosine and eliminated before damage to tissues can occur. The cells of the immune system are strengthened and stabilized by L-carnosine as well.
There is also some neurological research that suggests the L-carnosine supplements may help children with epilepsy and autism. The basis for this research is the fact that L-carnosine appears to stimulate brain function in areas of the brain that control emotion, abstract thinking, and expressive speech. In one double blind study conducted by a neurologist, children given 400 mg of L-carnosine twice a day showed significant improvement auditory processing, social skills, awareness of surroundings, fine motor planning and expressive language.
What is L-Carnosine?
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 declines with age (40’s). Stress and trauma may also cause a reduction in levels.
What is L-Carnosine Functions?
Over the years carnosine has been climbing the supplemental charts in popularity as a powerful anti-aging nutrient. In fact, it is often referred to as one of the nutrients for longevity. Many studies indicate that it harbors strong and specific antioxidant properties, including amazing anti-aging actions.
Numerous animal studies indicate carnosine protects against radiation damage, improves heart function, and promotes wound healing. It is thought that this unique di-peptide 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). Glycosylation is the oxidation of proteins which occur when sugar molecules attach to proteins and block their own normal metabolic function resulting in cross-linking of proteins. In other words, AGEs are abnormal, cross-linked and oxidized proteins which are implicated in loss of cell function, genome integrity and accelerated aging. Studies suggest that carnosine protects DNA and proteins from cross-linking. Moreover, it also 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.
More possible benefits of L-Carnosine
- Increases muscle strength and endurance.
- Protects against radiation damage.
- Improves the function of the heart.
- Speeds wound healing.
- Super antioxidant that quenches even the most destructive free radicals.
- Boosts immunity and reduces inflammation.
- It helps to chelate certain heavy metals from the body (chelate means to pull out).
- May help children with autism.
- Carnosine may produce anti-cancer effects on the body.
- Protects the aging process of the brain by retarding lipid peroxidation and stabilizing cell membranes.
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