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Can Carnosine Slow Aging?

We’re all looking for ways to slow down the aging process. One of the keys might already be right inside of our bodies! Carnosine is produced naturally and found in our muscles, the brain, and the heart. It’s a protein building block that is important for a variety of functions. Scientists have been studying its potential for not only treating certain conditions, but its potential to block chemicals that play a role in the aging process.

A scientific review released in the spring of 2022 revealed that more than one thousand studies have been done on this naturally occurring protein. This protein decreases with age, but it is available as a supplement, l-carnosine. The review shows that there may be benefits to carnosine beyond its traditional uses and that more clinical studies should be done.  

Carnosine and Longevity

Carnosine appears to work by attacking two common processes that cause us to age; glycation and cellular senescence. Supplementing with l-carnosine may have huge benefits to increasing our life span and our overall health. 

Glycation may be a cause of accelerated aging. Glycation occurs when glucose sugars attach to proteins, DNA, and lipids. This causes the formation of toxic compounds that damage cells, tissues and organs. Carnosine seems to exhibit antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that block glycation and rejuvenate aged cells.  These properties could prove beneficial when it comes to age related diseases.There is evidence that carnosine can do the following:

  • Help with cognition.

  • Improve exercise capacity in adults of all ages. 

  • Support glucose metabolism in overweight or obese people.

  • Improve balance and movement in people with Parkinson’s disease. 

Cellular senescence is when a cell ages and stops dividing but does not die. When senescent cells build up in the body, they release harmful substances that cause inflammation to healthy cells. Senescent cells are thought to be a contributor to cancer. Preventing cellular senescence could be a way to avoid disease.

Studies done on cultured cells have shown that carnosine may help prevent senescence and even rejuvenate cells that already show signs of it! It also seemed to reduce the shortening of telomeres, which are the caps on the ends of chromosomes. Telomeres shorten over time and scientists can actually predict aging based on their length. Long telomeres are associated with longevity. 

Another study, done on mice, showed that the mice who were fed carnosine had a 20% longer lifespan than the control group. Like other studies, they showed a decrease in cellular senescence, which is further proof that controlling that process could potentially help lead to an increase in longevity. 

Carnosine and Age Related Diseases

People who have diabetes experience glycation at a faster rate due to elevated blood sugar. According to the CDC’s National Diabetes Statistics Report, almost 40 million Americans have diabetes. Even more people (100 million adults) are thought to have prediabetes.  Animal studies have shown that carnosine improves glucose control and insulin sensitivity. It can also reduce or delay the initial development of the disease. 

One clinical trial done on humans found that diabetics who took 1,000 mg of carnosine for 12 weeks had significant improvements in their fasting glucose. 

Diabetics are also at higher risk of heart disease. Since carnosine can help prevent glycation, subjects who were supplemented were less likely to develop heart disease. What’s more is that it may even improve cardiac function and help prevent strokes! In a study done on patients with congestive heart failure, those who supplemented 500 mg per day for six months improved their physical condition in a variety of ways. This includes:

  • Higher quality of life scores

  • More stamina

  • Better oxygenation throughout the body

In addition to the studies that have already been done, more research is happening in even more areas. People are supplementing with carnosine to treat alzheimer’s disease, cataracts, high blood pressure, and kidney problems; in other words, just about everything.  

Supplementing with Carnosine

Carnosine is sold as L-carnosine and dosage is a bit controversial. Scientists know it works, but are not in agreement on how much people need to take for it to be effective.  Recommendations are anywhere between 50 to 1000 mg per day, which is a huge range! We do know that meat contains carnosine, so that is one way to get it naturally. 

Bioavailability of carnosine is also an issue. When taken orally, most carnosine is destroyed by enzymes after being absorbed into the bloodstream. 

With any and all supplements, it’s best to talk to your doctor. There are no known side effects of carnosine, although it may lower blood pressure. Pregnant people should also avoid it. One thing to look out for is not to confuse carnosine with carnitine. Carnitine is generally taken for weight loss, exercise performance, heart health, and brain function.

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