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6 March, 2008

Carnosine - The Remarkable Nutrient That Can Prevent Age-Related Diseases Like Diabetes And Arthritis

Carnosine, also known as L-carnitine, was discovered over 100 years ago by two Russian scientists, Gulevitch and Amiragdibi, as a naturally occurring protein which is present in your brain, muscles and other tissues in your body.

Yet it has only been recently that the incredible anti-ageing properties of this amino acid have come to light - helping to protect your body from a range of age-related illnesses, from arthritis and heart disease to diabetes and Alzheimer's. It has even been found to prevent wrinkles by rejuvenating connective skin tissues!
However, because levels of carnosine in your body diminish with age, many scientists are now recognising the benefits of supplementing with this essential amino acid.

Carnosine helps disarm harmful free radicals
By-products of your metabolism called free radicals are responsible for destroying valuable proteins and DNA in your body over time. Your body has developed various strategies to reduce the impact of this damage, and carnosine plays an integral part in several of these processes.

For example, carnosine is able to neutralise a chemical called MDA (malondialdehyde), which is produced as a result of free radical damage.
Left unchecked, MDA can be a contributory factor in age-related conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Carnosine is able to easily bind to the MDA molecule and thereby inactivate it (Age and Ageing 2000, 29:207-210).

Carnosine is also what is known as a free radical scavenger - meaning that it is able to mop up any left-over free radicals and neutralise them before they can cause any further damage. It has also been found to work much more effectively in conjunction with vitamin E - another antioxidant which mops up free radicals.

The reason for this is that carnosine's antioxidant properties are able to reach the parts of your body (those that contain water) which vitamin E is unable to access. Vitamin E can only reach the fatty parts of your body. So, using the two together provides almost complete antioxidant protection (Int J Biochem Cell Biol 1998, 30:863-868).

Extra protection against diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis
Free radicals are not the only culprits capable of wreaking havoc on your metabolism. Another process, called glycosylation, is also thought to be just as detrimental in causing age-related damage.

During glycosylation, sugar molecules attach themselves to valuable proteins, causing them to bend, twist and irreversibly attach themselves to other proteins. This can cause serious conditions such as diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease and loss of muscle (Biochem 2000, 65, 2-13).

Carnosine helps prevent this process in several ways.

Firstly, it is able to attach itself onto protein molecules before they become damaged by glycosylation - providing protection by acting as a shield. Carnosine also fights certain chemicals which initiate the process of glycosylation, by binding to them and inactivating them (Biochim Biophys Acta 1998;46-54: Biochim Biophys Acta 1997;17-29).

Even when a protein has already been damaged by glycosylation, carnosine helps the cells quickly eliminate the damaged material by activating enzymes and other chemicals which digest the abnormal protein.

The effects of carnosine on glycosylation have been found to be particularly beneficial in reducing the risk of diabetic complications. This is because carnosine is effective in protecting the nerves, arteries and kidneys against sugar-related damage - and it is these three areas which are most commonly affected as a result of diabetes, causing circulation problems and kidney failure. (Int J Biochem Cell Biol 1998 30;863-868).

Carnosine is showing potential as a treatment for cataracts and stomach ulcers too
In addition to helping the conditions mentioned above, carnosine is also proving to be beneficial in other areas also. Russian scientists have manufactured carnosine eye drops for the treatment of age-related cataracts. And in experiments, carnosine eye drops were found to cure cases of cataracts in up to an amazing 100 per cent of cases! (J Anti-Aging Med 2000 3;43-62).

Chinese researchers also confirmed these results in separate trials, involving almost 100 patients in one study and 1,000 patients in another (Biochem 2000 65(7);869-871). Unfortunately, carnosine eye drops are presently not available to purchase in the UK - but NHR will let you know as soon as they are.

And, when combined with zinc, carnosine has been found to protect against stomach ulcers too (Molec Aspects Med 1992;13:379-444). In Japan, carnosine and zinc are used as a treatment for indigestion, dyspepsia and stomach ulcers.

How To Take Carnosine For Best Results
As well as being present in your body, carnosine can be obtained through following a high-protein diet - and is found in foods such as lean meat, chicken and game.

Carnosine is also available to take in supplement form. The recommended dosage
is 50 mg capsules taken once or twice a day, preferably with vitamin E. Other nutrients which can enhance the health-giving benefits of carnosine further still, are co-enzyme Q10, vitamin C and alpha Lipoic acid.

No side-effects have been reported in association with carnosine, and it can be taken long-term to offer continuous anti-ageing protection. For further information on carnosine, contact the British Longevity Society, P.O. Box 71, Hemel Hempstead HP3 9DN.


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