L-carnosine is one of the most powerful antioxidants known. It is also popular in the body-building community because of its ability to build muscle.
However, did you know that it has many health benefits besides protecting the body from free radicals and helping you bulk up?
Check out our guide below to carnosine for its top 12 health benefits. Keep reading until the end to learn more about the sources and effects of carnosine supplementation.
What is L- Carnosine?
β-alanyl-L-histidine, L-Carnosine, N-Acétyl-L-Carnosine, B-Alanyl Histidine, N-Acetyl-L-Carnosine, Beta-alanyl-L-histidine, Bêta-Alanyl-L-Histidine, N-Acétyl-Carnosine, and Carnosina.
L-carnosine, also called carnosine or the “longevity molecule,” is a natural substance in the body. It is a dipeptide (organic compound) of two amino acids: histidine and beta-alanine.
This compound is also found in high concentrations in the muscle, brain, and gastrointestinal tissues of humans, where energy demands are high. You can also find it in all vertebrates.
You can find L-carnosine in foods, especially red meat, and over-the-counter supplements. Some creams and performance sports gels like CarnoSport also contain carnosine. However, it is not present in plants. Thus, strict vegetarians don’t receive the benefits of carnosine from dietary sources.
Furthermore, L-carnosine levels decline with age, starting at age 10. So, when you reach 70 years old, carnosine levels decrease by 63%.  As a result, this leaves us vulnerable to failing cardiovascular performance, loss of cognitive function, increased susceptibility to age-related diseases, and loss of metabolic control.
There’s also a decline because the body produces less carnosine, which gradually becomes vulnerable to destruction as we age.
However, don’t confuse carnosine with carnitine. The latter may be concentrated in muscle tissue and derived from an amino acid, like carnosine. Yet, carnitine is derived from different amino acids, lysine and methionine. It is also often taken for exercise performance, heart health, and weight loss.
There’s a growing body of evidence showing carnosine’s ability to prevent the detrimental effects of aging. These include protecting the body from DNA damage, glycation, oxidation, and other reactions that cripple organs and injured tissues. 
About glycation and oxidation
To better appreciate these health benefits of L-carnosine, let’s first understand these two processes.
Glycation is a process caused by excess sugar in skin fibers. It’s likened to the “caramelization” of meat.
For instance, Imagine coating sugar in a piece of meat and then cooking it. The sugar will melt and bind to the proteins to form a dense, caramelized layer. This same process happens gradually in the body at a cellular or microscopic layer.
After decades, this “caramelization,” or glycation (correct medical term), becomes well-established to be worrying because it may cause severe disease. The glycated proteins bound together (also called cross-linking) make the body issues increasingly hardened and stiff.
Oxidation, on the other hand, produces unstable chemicals (free radicals) that can damage vital cell molecules, including proteins and DNA. These structures are responsible for many body functions. Oxidation can be accelerated by alcohol, stress, sunlight, pollution, and cigarette smoking.
Now, let’s check out some of the health benefits of L-carnosine below.:
Top 12 Health Benefits of L-Carnosine
1. Protects the brain
L-carnosine has a strong anti-glycation ability and has been shown to support brain health and mental acuity.
This compound also potentially reduces the risk of brain-related disorders, such as psychiatric, neurodegenerative, neurological, and neurodevelopmental disorders, from cell, human, and animal studies. 
Similarly, it may decrease occasional anxiety, delay mental fatigue, support memory, increase focus, and speed executive functioning.
In addition, it acts as a neuroprotectant by preventing oxidative damage in the brain even after the cells therein have been attacked by free radicals. Thus, it prevents neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. 
2. Prevents cardiovascular damage
L-carnosine’s powerful antioxidant effects have the potential to prevent cardiovascular damage. It can also scavenge damaged protein products and free radicals in the body.
A study published in the Polish Journal of Pharmacology demonstrated that L-carnosine’s antioxidant properties protect the heart muscle against powerful chemotherapy agents and toxins that risk the heart tissue. 
During oxidative stress, L-carnosine protects the heart by reducing lipid peroxidation. In this process, oxidants (i.e., free radicals) attack lipids. This process can lead to cell damage and cell death. In the same way, L-carnosine buffers the intracellular pH, a potent trigger of electrical arrhythmia. 
Moreover, L-carnosine supports healthy blood circulation and blood pressure levels. And as you know, the heart, blood, and blood vessels comprise the cardiovascular system.
3. Supports muscle functions
Scientists discovered carnosine serves as an intracellular pH buffer in the muscle. 
Our muscle’s pH drops due to the highly reactive hydrogen ions when we work out.
Muscle acidity or muscle over-acidification symptoms include the sudden burning of muscle during or after an intense workout. Other fitness enthusiasts refer to it as “feeling the burn.” It occurs because oxygen can’t reach the muscles fast enough to keep up with the energy that the muscles need.
Muscle carnosine concentration and its muscle buffer capacity
L-carnosine has been discovered to have the best muscle buffering capacity with its excellent pKA value in a study about the human vastus lateralis muscle fibers.  This discovery also led to studying L-carnosine’s effect on elite athletes.
ChemiPower, in cooperation with Tartu Pharmacology Institute, developed the CarnoSport gel that relieves joint pain.
While it is often used to reduce muscle fatigue and improve muscle performance, it is as effective in improving joint, ligament, and tendon health. It also accelerates muscle recovery and shortens downtime.
Even better, this CarnoSport gel is doping-free and has been approved by all sports federations, regardless of competition and difficulty level. The skin absorbs this cream faster than others, thanks to its gel-type consistency. As a result, it provides quicker relief than oral pain meds.
4. Prevents different kidney diseases
L-carnosine is vital for the proper function and development of the kidneys. There’s some interest in using carnosine to prevent different kidney diseases.
A review showed that L-carnosine has renoprotective properties and can potentially treat chronic kidney disease. 
It may even reverse or prevent ischemia/reperfusion injury (IRI) – the worsening of cellular dysfunction in kidney tissue after injury or surgical procedures. Hence, carnosine may reduce kidney-related complications. 
Additionally, L-carnosine may alleviate diabetic nephropathy, a common complication of Type 1 and 2 diabetes. It is the deterioration of kidney function.
5. Lowers blood sugar.
Carnosine can lower elevated blood levels, limit elevated inflammation and oxidative stress, reduce the long-term formation of dangerous glycation end-products, and prevent cross-linking in people with diabetes and healthy aging adults. 
6. Prevents Type 2 diabetes from emerging.
A pilot clinical trial indicated that two-hour insulin and glucose were lower after L-carnosine supplementation than the placebo subjects. 
How carnosine enhances insulin sensitivity and lowers blood glucose altogether helps prevent Type 2 diabetes from emerging. Additionally, histidine and carnosine delay diabetic deterioration. 
7. Improves skeletal integrity
L-carnosine’s anti-glycation properties stimulate bone growth and contribute to overall skeletal integrity.
The Japanese Journal of Physiology published a study supporting the claim that L-carnosine benefits skeletal muscles and the acid-base balance. It also claims that a high level of skeletal muscle carnosine contributes to the latter half of exercise performance. 
Bone and joint health benefits
Carnosine’s anti-inflammatory effect may also benefit the joints. Notably, it may treat arthritic diseases, the tenderness and swelling of one or more joints. 
8. Boosts immune response
The brain uses L-carnosine to clear away toxins and repair tissues. As a result, it raises the body’s immune response when the immune system is weakened. In contrast, L-carnitine suppresses excess immune response when the immune system is hyper. 
A recent study shows that carnosine may prevent the excessive immune response (cytokine storm) in Covid-19 patients. 
9. Enhances mood
L-carnosine shields the brain cells from deterioration brought on by aging or stress. It likewise balances the neurotransmitter glutamate (chemical messengers between nerve cells and the brain). The said neurotransmitter is a component in the mechanism of therapies for depression.
Carnosine supplement or dietary carnosine is advised to suppress stress and improper behavior in subjects. 
10. Improves the behavior of children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
Some doctors and researchers believe that L-carnosine helps children with ASD in many ways, especially in improving behavior. 
Its ability to enhance the nervous system function may also improve children’s language skills. Some studies show that kids who take L-carnosine supplements improve language comprehension, vocabulary, socialization, fine motor skills, communication, awareness of surroundings, auditory processing, and object recognition. 
L-carnosine modulates zinc and copper effects on amino acid receptors. This effect may then influence neuronal excitability, which is necessary for normal brain development. 
11. Minimizes wrinkles and delays aging.
Carnosine is said to fight wrinkles and delay aging. It rejuvenates the connective tissue cells damaged by glycation and oxidation.
This substance is also beneficial in wound healing. Its potent antioxidant effect can prevent the deterioration of billions of cells in the body. Thus, tissues age less quickly when cells can continue to divide undamaged.
In addition, when damaged proteins build up and cross-link in the skin, it results in loss of skin elasticity and wrinkles. However, Carnosine can change that. It has an anti-aging effect through its ability to react with oxidized or glycated proteins and other molecules in the body. 
12. Preserves eyesight
L-carnosine helps preserve vision by interacting in the cross-linking reaction in the eyes’ lens. 
Natural histidine-containing dipeptide in treating human cataracts.
L-Carnosine is a natural histidine-containing dipeptide that is physiologically acceptable for the nonsurgical treatment of cataracts. 
Top Food Sources of L-carnosine
- Meats (red meat, beef, pork, chicken, and turkey)
- Other animal products (eggs, cheese, milk) – contain L-carnosine in trace amounts
You can only find this compound in animals. Fish and seafood contain L-carnosine but only in minimal amounts. So, they make a poor dietary source of L-carnosine.
Effect of Carnosine Supplementation
Taking carnosine supplements affects muscle carnosine synthesis, which incorporates amino acids into skeletal muscle proteins. Over time, it delays muscle fatigue and lactic acid onset while improving recovery and building endurance.
Dosage and Preparation
Carnosine is safe when taken by mouth. It’s been safely used and well-tolerated at 200 to 1,500 mg./daily doses. Still, the dosage will depend highly on the individual, nutritional needs, age, sex, etc.
Other forms of L-carnosine, besides solid tablets, are liquids, powdered capsules, and mixable powders. Topical carnosine is also safe to use.
Special Precautions and Warnings
There’s not enough data to show whether carnosine supplementation is safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Therefore, consult your doctor or avoid using it to stay safe.
Carnosine may interfere with blood sugar control pre-and post-surgery. So, avoid taking carnosine supplements at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.
People Also Ask: FAQs About L-Carnosine Benefits
What does L-carnosine do for the brain?
Carnosine supplementation inhibits protein cross-linking in the brain, which may contribute to cognitive disorders. Hence, it supports brain health.
Is L-carnosine anti-aging?
Yes, L-carnosine is anti-aging. Its free radical and metal ion-scavenging activities and antioxidant effects can explain these effects. It also improves memory, cognition, and energy levels and prevents brain cell death.
Does the body need carnosine?
Yes, the body needs carnosine for many normal functions. It plays an essential role in developing the heart, muscles, brain, kidneys, liver, and many other organs.
Does L-carnosine raise blood pressure?
No, L-carnosine does not increase blood pressure. Evidence shows that it may reduce blood pressure in human and animal models. [25, 26]
From the brain to the gastrointestinal tissues and everything in between, L-carnosine truly has a multitude of benefits.
We have combed through different studies and selected the top 12 health benefits it offers.
TL;DR: Carnosine has strong anti-glycating, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects. All significantly contribute to the development and progression of numerous chronic diseases linked to advanced age. These include cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, and diabetes and its complications.
ChemiPower’s CarnoSport is a doping-free sports gel containing carnosine, approved for use by all sports federations.
When applied to a desired muscle group, it helps reduce muscle fatigue and accelerates muscle recovery.