Vitamin Department: Carnosine

by Lois Dickey, Vitamin Department Manager

Carnosine (not to be confused with Carnitine) is a multifunctional dipeptide made up of a combination of the amino acids beta-alanine and L-histidine. It is found both in food and in the human body. Long-lived cells such as nerve cells (neurons) and
muscle cells (myocytes) contain high levels of carnosine. Muscle levels of carnosine correlate with the maximum life spans of animals. Carnosine is a naturally occurring antioxidant that has been shown to be an anti-glycating agent.

This nutrient also has the ability to suppress advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and inhibit the formation of reactive oxygen species, a culprit in oxidative stress that can lead to age-related conditions. Carnosine levels decline with age. Muscle levels
decline 63% from age 10 to age 70, which may account for the normal age-related decline in muscle mass and function.

Since Carnosine acts as a Ph buffer, it can keep on protecting muscle cell membranes from oxidation under the acidic conditions of muscular exertion. Carnosine enables the heart muscle to contract more efficiently through enhancement of calcium response in
heart myocytes.

Aging causes irreversible damage to the body’s proteins. The underlying mechanism behind this damage is glycation. A single definition of glycation is the cross-linking of proteins and sugars to form non-functioning structures in the body. The process of
glycation can be superficially seen as unsightly wrinkled skin. Glycation is also an underlying cause of age-related neurologic, vascular and eye problems. (There is an eye drop formula with carnosine for the eyes.) To sum up, carnosine is a unique
dipeptide that interferes with the glycation process.

It would be beneficial to take benfotiamine along with carnosine. Benfotiamine, a fat-soluable form of vitamin B1 (thiamin), supports healthy blood sugar metabolism and helps protect the body’s tissues against advanced glycation end products and oxidative stress.