L-carnosine is a dipeptide composed of two amino acids—β-alanine and L-histidine—and is naturally found in muscle and heart tissues, the brain, and the liver. It has a powerful antioxidant function and protects and stabilizes cell membranes by preventing oxidative stress caused by free radicals. It also acts as a metal chelator and has a buffer effect on lactic acid in the muscle, including cases of intensive exercise (Prokopieva et al., 2016). The recommended dose is 500–2000 mg per day (Eades, 1994).
This amino acid is not just any ordinary antioxidant molecule. Although it is not the most powerful antioxidant, it does target six molecular aging mechanisms and can increase longevity. Areas where carnosine is an effective anti-aging agent include:
Oxidation – Stress on the cells and tissues caused by oxidation is one of the leading causes of aging. Carnosine helps to minimize this by scavenging free radicals, reducing DNA damage.
Glycation – This is the formation of glucose compounds containing various enzymes and proteins that cause aging. These glycated molecules induce oxidative stress and enhance inflammatory responses that accelerate the aging process.
Cross-linking – The combination of oxidation and glycation causes ineffective cross-linked proteins. These abnormalities are dealt with naturally through structures known as proteasomes. However, as the body age’s cross-linked proteins accumulate as proteasomes degradation declines. Carnosine can help to eliminate cross-linked proteins.
Mitochondrial dysfunction – As the body becomes increasingly exposed to oxidative stress mitochondrial dysfunction increases and this speeds up the aging process. However, studies show that carnosine can help to alleviate these problems.
Excess metals – Excess metals in the body are toxic and known to be linked to diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Carnosine will bind to copper, iron, and zinc ions to help ride the body of these excess metals.
Telomere shortening – Telomeres are repeated DNA sequences located at the ends of chromosomes. They act like a ‘molecular clock’ and become shorter with every cycle of cell reproduction. The cells die when telomeres become too short and this increases the aging process. Carnosine slows down the rate of shortening.