Chemically speaking, L-carnosine is a dipeptide of the amino acids beta-alanine and histidine. This means it is a combination of the two amino acids, connected by a single peptide bond. As the name implies, as it contains the root “carn”, meaning meat, this substance is found prevalent in animal protein rather than plant protein.
L-carnosine is widely accepted as an antiglycating agent, reducing the rate of formation of AGE’s,advanced glycation end-products. These AGE’s contribute to the development or worsening of many degenerative diseases such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, chronic renal failure, and Alzheimer’s Disease. In addition, L-carnosine is believed to reduce the buildup of atherosclerotic plaque in the blood vessels. Chronic glycolysis is believed to accelerate the aging process, so L-carnosine, as an antiglycating agent, is thought to have good therapeutic potential.
Studies pertaining to the therapeutic properties of L-carnosine began in the 1990’s. A Professor Wang conducted a study called “Use of carnosine as a natural anti-senescent drug for human beings”, consisting of 96 patients suffering from cataracts. Of those suffering from with advanced senile cataracts, 80 % saw improvement, while those with mild to moderate cataracts had a 100% improvement rate. In another study, Russian scientist Dr. Sergey Stvolinsky noted a 20% increase in the lifespan of fruit flies when exposed to carnosine. And a study conducted on first rats, and then humans, noted an increase in the tensile strength of skin, thus providing for improved wound healing post surgically.
L-carnosine has been linked to many benefits, especially in the area of aging. It acts as an antioxidant, fighting the increase in free radicals, and the damaging effects of nitrogen and blood sugar. It can reduce toxicity in the brain, thus preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s, and other neurological conditions. As an antioxidant, it also helps to lower cholesterol, thereby assisting in the prevention of strokes, heart attacks, and other adverse cardiovascular conditions. L-carnosine also acts to prevent diabetes by fighting the glycation process and increasing the number of insulin producing cells in the pancreas. It can also be an effective agent in the prevention of cancer due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It can hinder the production of cancer cells, and help prevent metastatic growth. And yet another added benefit is its action against the helicobacter pylori bacterium, known to cause stomach and peptic ulcers.
Most people will ingest about 250 mg of this beneficial dipeptide in their usual diet. However this is usually quickly eliminated from the body by an enzyme called carnosinase. To avail yourself of the full therapeutic benefits of L-carnosine, a daily dose of 1000mg is recommended, which you are unlikely to receive relying on diet alone. However, L-carnosine is readily available in supplement form. And there is no need to be concerned about overdoing it, as there is no danger to taking such supplements even at higher doses.