Carnosine – All you need to know

Carnosine – All you need to know

Carnosine can delay the aging of the skin and it can rejuvenate the skin cells, which is even better. When we talk about anti-aging, most of us think of expensive cosmetic treatments. We spend a lot of money on creams that promise miraculous effects but we are met with disappointing results or that do not last for long.

Why does the skin of old people look different than that of young people?

The beauty of the skin is due to a process comes from inside our body. Although we can improve the aspect of the skin by applying creams externally, we cannot ignore those treatments that deal with the rejuvenation of the skin from the inside.

New scientific research is always looking for ways to apply skin treatment in this way, by analyzing the essential elements that cause the aging process, so that we try to find solutions based on science, not on the promises from the cosmetic world.

Carnosine, an anti-aging agent that acts from the inside

One of the reasons why the skin loses its smooth and youthful aspect with the passing of time, is due to the changes that the proteins undergo in the human body. Proteins are responsible for the functioning of all living organisms, so if they are damaged it will affect the body both in the external aspect as well as in the internal functions.

The results of many research lines from the last decade have shown that the alteration of proteins is the main trigger for the onset of degenerative diseases during old age. This alteration occurs through the oxidation (due to the harmful effect of the free radicals) and glycation, which happen when glucose (sugar) is abnormally associated with proteins.

Carnosine is the most important anti-aging dietary supplement

It is the most important dietary supplement that is currently available in the market. This substance is an amino acid that is produced naturally in the body. It was discovered more than a hundred years ago.

Despite being used in Russia long ago, it has recently called the attention of researchers from all around the world, due to its anti-aging effects.

What is Carnosine?

It represents the paradox of life: “Those elements that make life possible, such as oxygen, glucose, lipids, proteins, and heavy metals, are also those that destroy it”.

It is a combination of two amino acids, beta-alanine and histidine. It is produced naturally in the tissues of the body, such as the muscles and the brain, and its concentration decreases with age.

How does it work?

Carnosine is a powerful antioxidant that protects the body against the harmful effects of the free radicals

First of all, it catches the free radicals to protect our cells from damage. It has optimal effects when it is used together with vitamin E and other antioxidants.

It prolongs the life of the cells (protects against protein glycosylation)

Secondly, carnosine reduces the breakdown of proteins and DNA caused by sugar molecules, through a process known as glycosylation. The importance of this process has only been recently discovered.

Abnormal combinations of sugars and proteins are very toxic and they trigger diseases related to age, such as diabetes, heart disease, strokes, Alzheimer, senile dementia, and skin aging. This substance can help to prevent the damage caused by the glycosylation and frees the organism from toxic substances so that it can function properly.

Antioxidant donating electron to free radical

It frees the body from toxic heavy metals (chelation)

Thirdly, carnosine detects toxic substances produced by the metabolism and removes them from the body. It stabilizes the cells and makes them more resistant to any type of damage, which strengthens the immune system.

When do we start to feel the effects of Carnosine?

Clinical tests have shown that it produces tangible effects on the aspect of the skin and that after two months of carnosine treatment the person experiences an increase in energy and vitality.

Other benefits of Carnosine

It has other benefits for the body: anti-aging effects, skin rejuvenation, increased sexual drive, longevity, as well as treating and relieving aging and muscle dysfunction, cataracts, diabetes, and cardiovascular, neurological and mental diseases.

It increases the energy and vitality

For many years, Russian athletes and swimmers have been taking carnosine to increase their power and strength in competitions. This has allowed them to gain an advantage over their rivals. Many people who take this substance have described its effects as a considerable increase in energy.

The Importance of Carnosine

The interest in this substance has grown in recent years. Many experts predict that in the future carnosine will be used as a routine treatment for everyone, specially for people over the age of 40.

In the United States and Great Britain specialists in nutrition are already advising carnosine supplements as the best anti-aging treatment. It has no known side effects or incompatibility with other medicines.

Research in laboratories has demonstrated the beneficial effects on the process of cell senescence (the end of the cell life cycle when it ceases to divide itself), where it has been proven that it has the ability to rejuvenate the cells as they approach senescence, restoring them to their normal functioning and prolonging their life.

Carnosine rejuvenates the cells

It is known that it counteracts the aging process of the cells and tissues, although the exact mechanism is not known.

It is available as a dietary supplement in capsules. No side effects have been reported and it can be combined with other dietary supplements.

Carnosine, pharmacology and biochemistry

A 100% natural substance. It is a dipeptide that consists on two amino acids (ß-alanyl and L-Histidine). It is often called a neuropeptide due to its properties as a brain protector.

It is located in healthy muscles, the heart, the brain, liver, kidneys and other tissues of the body. Muscles contain around 20 mol/g. A higher percentage of carnosine in the tissues and organs will make them useful for longer, since it is a powerful cleanser of free radicals that helps to avoid cell aging.

It acts, along with other cleansers of biological free radicals, such as vitamin E, vitamin C, zinc and selenium, to reduce the aging of the tissues. People with a moderate vitamin E deficiency should increase their levels of carnosine. Epidemiological studies worldwide have shown that much of the population has a lack of vitamin E.

The synthesis of this substance is performed by the amino acids alanine and histidine in the human body. This reaction takes place mainly in the brain and muscles. Another group of enzymes, called dipeptidases or carnosinase are produced in the blood and other tissues.

Carnosine in food

The main source is meat. High doses of carnosine are required because it is naturally broken down by the enzyme carnosinase in the body when it is used for therapeutic purposes. A supply in the diet of a 30 to 70% (depends on the amount of amino acids from the different types of meat), corresponds to a dose of a 70% pure l-carnitine dietary supplement.

Most of the absorption takes place in the small intestine, where it is transported to the muscles, the brain and other tissues. It is undetectable in the human plasma, in other words, its presence or deficiency in the body cannot be analyzed with a blood test.

Horse plasma contains approximately 100 mol/l of carnosine and, unlike human beings, its presence is detectable in blood. When a horse has a muscle injury, the amount of plasma increases, so this fact can therefore be used to detect and diagnose muscle injuries in horses.

Best source of carnosine

Biological functions of Carnosine

  • It avoids the harmful effects of lactic acid in the muscles (the pH is maintained at optimum levels thanks to this effect, even during intense workouts)
  • It has very powerful antioxidant effects that protect multiple organs and tissues
  • It eliminates the free radicals and disables oxidative damage to the cells
  • It protects against the glycation process
  • It acts as a neurotransmitter
  • It protects against proteasomes
  • It attacks reactive aldehydes
  • It plays a role in the chelation or removal of heavy metals
  • It has a preventive effect against protein carbonylation

Summary of its properties

Carnosine does not only attack reactive aldehydes but it also eliminates toxic waste from the body (such as damaged proteins, sugars, and uncoupled phospholipids) and it acts as a key factor in the building of new and much more robust structures.

As a dietary supplement, it helps to control many diseases, such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer, Parkinson, epilepsy, autism, dyslexia, ADHD, schizophrenia, and other syndromes, as we will see.

Copper and zinc are released during normal synaptic activity. In slightly acidic conditions, typical of Alzheimer’s disease, they are reduced to their ionic forms and are toxic to the nervous system. Clinical research has shown that it can buffer the toxicity of copper and zinc in the brain.

Clinical in-vitro (in a test tube) studies have shown that it prevents the non-enzymatic glycation and cross-linking of proteins produced by reactive aldehydes, including aldose and ketose, triose glucolitic sugars and malondialdehyde (MDA)

Carnosine also prevents advanced glycation induced by MDA and the formation of DNA-protein cross-links resulting from acetaldehyde and formaldehyde.

History of Carnosine, its discovery and evolution

It was discovered by the Russian scientist WS Gulewich in the 20th century, who also established its structure. Carnosine is the simplest example of the biologically active peptides (actually, dipeptides) and introduces a long list of natural regulators of the protein metabolism.

The first decades were devoted to the study of its structure, its distribution, and properties. It was discovered that it is directly connected to the operation of the most sensitive tissues, such as the ones from the muscles and brain.

In 1953 another Russian scientist, H.E. Severin, discovered its efficacy to reduce lactic acid, which causes fatigue during weight lifting or intense workouts. As a result, it increases the performance and muscle endurance.

When lactic acid accumulates in the muscles, it reduces the pH and the muscles begin to experience fatigue. If provide carnosine to the organism, the muscles will recover almost immediately and contract, as if they had never been exhausted before. This is known as the “Severin Phenomenon”.

If you practice sports or athletics you will know that fatigue considerably hinders the physical performance and you will understand the great importance of dietary supplements in sport competitions and events.

The interest in this natural substance has increased due to recent discoveries, which have proven its powerful anti-aging effect. While carnosine has been known for almost a century, its anti-aging properties had not been studied in depth until now.

The most surprising findings come from a trial conducted in the United States in 2002 by Dr. Michael Chez and his team, which showed the surprising effects of carnosine on autistic children. This study can be viewed in the MEDLINE database, together with nine hundred other studies published on this substance.

The history of Carnosine as a medicine and dietary supplement

It has a wide range of therapeutic applications. Its effects on early arthritis treatments were already recognized in 1935. It has the remarkable ability to slow down cellular and enzymatic processes when they occur too fast and to accelerate them when they go too slow.

Recent studies have also shown that a combination of zinc and carnosine protects the stomach lining against different stimulants and prevents the onset of ulcers. For example, carnosine stabilizes the clotting of platelets in patients who have a tendency towards abnormal clotting.

It has protective effects on the membranes of blood cells and prolongs their survival. It also stabilizes the cell membranes and protects them from chemically induced hemolytic anemia.

Vitamin A capsules

Overview of its benefits

  • It is a completely safe substance, found naturally in the body and in foods
  • It offers an excellent protection against oxidative damage to chromosomes
  • It is a very versatile catcher of free radicals and aldehyde
  • It combats glycation naturally and effectively
  • It inhibits lipid peroxidation
  • It intercepts the hydroxyl, superoxide, and peroxyl radicals
  • It helps to avoid the formation of AGEs
  • It protects the proteins against the toxicity of AGEs
  • It protects proteins against crosslinking
  • It is a multifunctional element that protects the phospholipids
  • It protects against the formation of carbonyl proteins, the damage marker of proteins
  • It prevents the damage to proteins by protecting the proteasomes
  • It is beneficial for patients with disorders from the autistic spectrum
  • It helps to maintain normal protein levels
  • It prolongs the life of mice suffering from accelerated aging up to a 20%
  • It protects the brain cells from excitotoxicity
  • It protects the proteins and brain biochemistry
  • It controls the biochemical functions of the brain
  • It prolongs the life of cells
  • It protects the brain against diseases that lead to the overproduction of free radicals
  • It protects against the toxicity of heavy metals
  • It naturally contributes to protecting the brain against the toxicity of copper and zinc
  • It considerably improves the behavior and appearance of old mice
  • It rejuvenates senile human cells in cultures
  • It restores those cells that are approaching senescence
  • It has chelating effects on copper and zinc
  • It prevents and relieves Alzheimer
  • It prevents the formation of beta-amyloid plaques, which cause Alzheimer

Properties of Carnosine as a superpeptide

It is an alanine and histidine amino acid neuropeptide (beta-alanyl-L-Histidine). It occurs naturally in the human body and it is located in the brain, innervated tissues, the lenses of the eyes and human skeleton muscle tissues.

Laboratory studies have demonstrated that it protects the cells against oxidative stress, enhances the resistance to functional depletion and reduces the traits of old age.

The protection mechanisms have the following effects:

  • Proton buffer (maintenance of the pH balance in the muscles during intense training)
  • Chelation of heavy metals (specially copper and zinc)
  • It blocks the effects of the free radicals and active sugar molecules (prevents the glycation and the carbonylation of proteins)
  • Prevents the modification of biomolecules and oxidative stress
  • Physiological concentrations (20-30 micromoles or MM)
  • It prolongs the life of human fibroblasts in-vitro and reduces the processes of senescence (aging). It improves the aspect and average lifespan in laboratory animals

It helps to treat age-related diseases, including:

  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Neurological degeneration (such as Alzheimer, Parkinson, epilepsy, depression, schizophrenia, mild cognitive impairment, dementia, and stroke)
  • Disorders within the autism spectrum such Asperger’s syndrome, ADHD, and cell senescence dyslexia (aging)
  • Cross-linking in the eye lens (cataracts)
  • Development of a collagen network in the skin (skin aging)
  • Advanced glycation (AGE)
  • Increase of damaged proteins
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Blood circulation problems in the brain (stroke)
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Diabetes and its complications

The use of carnosine as a multifunctional dietary supplement is relatively new. Its extraordinary physiological power as 100% natural superantioxidant has numerous biological functions, including:

  • Its effect as a universal and versatile antioxidant
  • It helps to give vitality to the muscles
  • It increases muscle strength and resistance to fatigue
  • It promotes a faster recovery after sprints
  • It prevents cell damage caused by alcohol

Side effects

Carnosine has no known side effects. It is not toxic to the organism.

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Carnosine, the most complete and effective hunter of free radicals

It is a free radical hunter that stabilizes and protects the cell membranes. It prevents the peroxidation caused by the free radicals within the cell membrane in particular.

Many antioxidants (like vitamins E and C) are in charge of preventing the free radicals from penetrating the tissues, but once that first layer of protection has been damaged it is not possible to prevent them from causing further oxidative damage to the cells.

Carnosine does not only have the main task of preventing, but it also acts when the free radicals and other dangerous elements such as lipid peroxides have already penetrated the tissues. In that sense carnosine is a much more powerful, effective, and complete agent than other antioxidants, because it also protects the cells in this “second stage”.

Lipid peroxidation is a reaction which breaks down the lipids and it can produce malondialdehyde or MDA, a substance which is very dangerous if it is not controlled because it can cause enzyme and DNA damage, which leads to the onset of atherosclerosis, arthritis, cataracts, and general aging.

It responds to MDA by disabling its harmful effects and protecting the cells and molecules against oxidative stress. Carnosine chemically reacts against all reactive oxygen attacks, which prevents oxidative stress.

A rather unusual antioxidant property is its ability to reduce the levels of those substances that react to thiobarbituric acid (TBARS).

It protects the ability of the main structural blocks of the body to work – cells, DNA and lipids – and helps them to remain in perfect condition for longer, which promotes longevity.

An essential defense

This function consists on protecting all bodily tissues against oxidation. Oxidative stress hinders the functioning of the body. This increases the mortality of old people after stressful events. This is why having an antioxidant defense is essential to health, particularly in the case of old people.

It is the complete solution to prevent cell aging and it is much more effective than the multitude of medications that we take every day. Moreover, the anti-aging properties of carnosine go far beyond its powerful antioxidant ability, as we will explain later.

Carnosine and its heavy metal chelation properties

Many researchers have come to the conclusion that the positive effects on health are at least partly due to the effects of heavy metals chelation in the body.

Hour glass, the effects of aging

What does chelation mean?

The term “chelate” comes from the word “chele”, which in Greek means “claw”, and it refers to the ability of a substance to remove the excess of (toxic) heavy metals deposited in the cells and in the bloodstream, promoting their excretion through the liver and kidneys.

The chelation process is normally carried out through the administration of several intravenous substances that contain EDTA disodium salt and penicillin. Chelation is traditionally used in occupational medicine to eliminate toxic heavy metals such as lead from the body.

In both occupational and in traditional medicine, there is no alternative to chelation treatment. Chelation is also used in private clinics as an adjunct to the treatment of other diseases other than heavy metal poisoning, since it produces the following benefits:

  • Widens narrowed artery walls
  • Reduces high blood pressure
  • Removes heavy and toxic metals from the body
  • Improves the blood flow in the heart, brain, legs, and all organs
  • Reduces the free radicals
  • Relieves the pain in the extremities
  • Improves the absorption of oxygen in the cells
  • Increases the elasticity of blood vessels
  • Improves memory
  • Improves the functioning of enzymes

Vaccines, mercury, and Carnosine

With regard to vaccination, the process of chelation caused by carnosine can be crucial, since it naturally eliminates the organic mercury (thimerosal or thiomersal) contained in vaccines.

Organic mercury is included in most vaccines as an antimicrobacterial preservative, although it has been recognized as a toxic substance since the 1930s, because it attacks the central nervous system.

For that reason it is advised for both adults and children who have been vaccinated to take carsonine as soon as possible, in order to eliminate the toxic thimerosal from the body.

Atherosclerosis and its treatment through EDTA chelation

Chelation has become the “alternative” treatment, when it was discovered that EDTA is an effective element to eliminate heavy metals and toxic substances deposited in the blood. Some researchers believe that the plaque deposited in arterial walls may be treated with this method.

The first time that the EDTA treatment was advised for combatting atherosclerosis was in 1956, when Clarke and Mosher discovered that people who suffer from peripheral occlusive arterial disease, felt better after being treated with EDTA.

Carnosine and chelation: an overview

It is a dietary supplement that offers the same chelating properties as EDTA, with a simple oral treatment, but much cheaper and more comfortable. It has the ability to eliminate oxidants like the metals copper and zinc; and the heavy and toxic metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and nickel from the body.

Carnosine and anti-aging (glycation prevention)

It prevents the process of glycation (old age), which makes it very useful for the prevention and treatment of diabetes, cataracts, nerve diseases, arteriosclerosis, and kidney failure.

The latest clinical research has shown that the most important effect of carnosine is its effectiveness against glycation, so it is also useful for people of all ages, since it helps to slow down aging processes.

What is the glycation?

Let’s try to explain this process in a simple way.

  • Every passing second a destructive process called “glycation” takes place in our body.
  • Glycation occurs when a protein molecule is modified by one molecule of glucose (sugar), producing a harmful reaction that has no use for the organism.
  • Glycation modifies the structure of proteins and reduces their normal biological activity.
  • Those proteins that have undergone the process of glycation accumulate in the affected tissue and cause diseases. Most of the diseases related to age, such as hardening of the arteries, cardiovascular problems, cataracts and neurological alterations are due, at least in part, to glycation.

Carnosine, anti-glycation

Carnosine prevents the glycation from happening and it also plays an essential role in eliminating the proteins which have already undergone the glycation process and are no longer useful for the organism. It connects with the damaged molecules and proceeds to remove them from the cells.

Glycation, known in biochemistry as Maillard’s reaction, takes place between proteins and glucose and it is considered one of the most important causes of the aging process and possibly one of the triggers of the onset of cancer and diabetes complications. Glucose provides fuel which produces glycation. This noxious protein/glucose combination leads to oxidation and advanced glycation called AGEs after a number of steps.

Once AGEs are formed, they interact with neighbouring proteins and form pathological crosslinks that harden the tissues. It has been speculated that there is no other molecule that has such toxic effects on proteins as the resulting substances of advanced glycation. In the case of diabetic people, excessive amounts of AGEs occur earlier than with non-diabetic people.

This process disrupts the normal functioning of the organs and causes a rapid hardening of the arteries, specially in people with diabetes.

AGEs, creators of free radicals

AGEs (Advanced Glycation End-products) produce a damaging reaction in cells. One of the most damaging consequences of AGEs is an increase in the formation of the free radicals in more than 50%. Since diabetes causes accelerated aging, it also causes the hardening of the arteries in all cases, damages the retina and the ocular lens, and attacks the kidneys and peripheral nerves.

Glycation causes glomerular damage and inflammation of the kidney. Glycation can also cause cataracts (a complication of diabetes). With glycation inhibitors, such as carnosine and calcium pyruvate, such damage can be avoided. In addition, the intake of glycosylation inhibitors allows people to avoid many of the problems that lead to aging.

Since the structure of carnosine is similar to that of the elements attacked by glycation, it can carry out the same protective function against glycation. It also promotes the elimination of damaged proteins that are unnecessary and harmful for the body.

Because of its anti-glycation effects it is very useful for the prevention and treatment of diabetes and its complications, such as cataracts, arteriosclerosis, nerve diseases, and renal failure. It is also very effective for the general public, because AGEs (advanced glycation) causes old age, although more slowly than in the case of diabetic people.

Why is the physical aspect of old people so different to that of young people?

As we age, our physical appearance changes. This is due to the disruption that occurs in the proteins of the organism. Proteins are the basic substances responsible for the functioning of living beings. As a result, the breakdown of proteins has a transcendental effect on the appearance of the body.

Clinical studies conducted in the past ten years have found that changes in proteins are the reason why aging and degenerative diseases exist. These changes are the result of oxidation (by the free radicals) and processes related to glycation.

Our body is mainly made up of proteins. Since the body cannot be protected completely from oxidative stress, glycation or from carbonylation, our proteins are destroyed little by little as we age. In other words, carbonyl (> C = O) groups bind to protein molecules (and phospholipids) and the result is protein breakdown (proteolysis).

The carbonylation of proteins triggers a toxic process that leads to cell aging and death.

The constant breakdown of proteins (proteolysis) produces oxidation, carbonylation, cross-linking, glycation and finally advanced glycation (AGE). This aging of the proteins and cells also affects the external appearance, such as the aging of the skin, cataracts and symptoms associated with neurodegenerative diseases, memory loss, and dementia, for example.

A large number of scientific studies published by researchers from around the world, show that carnosine is effective against all these forms of protein breakdown.

It reacts with the carbonyl group and forms an inactive protein-carbonyl-carnosine connection, which prevents protein breakdown.

Why does it have protective effects?

Carnosine simply restores the normal functioning of the cell cycle.

  • To understand how it works we can compare the process of cell aging to an engine whose oil is not changed regularly.
  • When the engine runs out of oil, the engine begins to fill up with mud and dirt, which prevents its proper functioning, until it ends up breaking down.
  • When harmful substances similar to the engine sludge accumulate in proteins the cell cycle is obstructed. This prevents the normal functioning of cell division and the normal reproduction of damaged cells.
  • This results in a chromosomal instability which leads to cell breakdown and it can trigger cancer. Another consequence is cell division.
  • Ultimately, protein carbonylation can lead to the future development of illnesses.
  • It ensures that our proteins remain healthy and are safely renewed.

It has been proven that it is a far superior catcher of free radicals when compared to other traditional products, such as vitamin E and selenium, which are not as effective as it was previously believed, since they cannot prevent glycation or carbonylation as carnosine does.

Antioxidants undoubtedly play an important biochemical role in the prevention of damage caused by oxidative stress. However, to hope that traditional catchers of free radicals (such as vitamin E and selenium) will be able to protect proteins from any type of oxidative damage, would be like trying to build a house with only a screwdriver, an important tool, but one which cannot perform the functions of the others that we will also need.

Protector of the proteins from the organism

Unlike traditional antioxidants, this is a multi-use tool provided by nature to protect proteins from a multitude of factors that contribute to the breakdown of proteins in the body.

Not only does it protect the cells from damage, but it also guards the body against the rest of the secondary toxic processes that oxygen can trigger through sugars, lipids, and heavy metals. Although we cannot live without these biochemical elements, nutritional science currently provides us with the necessary knowledge to control their harmful side effects.

Proteins for athletes

Proteins are not the only molecules that are broken down by carbonylation; phospholipids are also affected. The carbonylation of phospholipids mainly hurts the central and peripheral nervous system and triggers memory failure and other cognitive problems.

It also combats the carbonylation of phospholipids and transforms carsonine dipeptides into a powerful neuroprotector for the organism.

With regards to sports and bodybuilding, it promotes the detoxification of reactive aldehydes induced by lipid peroxidation, which are formed in the muscles during intense physical training. This means that carnosine protects the muscles against injuries, prevents fatigue, increases muscle strength, and considerably accelerates the recovery time after the workout and physical exercise.

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About Melanie Ramos
Melanie Ramos
Melanie Ramos uses the HSN Blog to share the latest information and content, so that all those readers who want to learn.
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