Benefits of L-Carnosine

by Tracey Roizman, D.C., Demand Media

    Found primarily in your brain and muscles and the lenses of your eyes, L-carnosine is a nonessential nutrient your body manufactures from two amino acids. You can also obtain L-carnosine from meat, poultry and fish. L-carnosine provides a number of health benefits aside from building protein, according to "Basic Health Publications User's Guide to Carnosine."

    Vision

    L-carnosine might keep your eyes bright and your vision strong, according to an animal study published in "Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry" in August 2011. Carnosine supplementation of 1 gram per kilogram of body weight per day for six months prevented diabetes-related damage to the retina and associated vision loss from high blood-sugar levels. The amino acid worked by activating a protein that makes cells more resilient to stress, a benefit that is not available from other supplements, noted researchers. The study also found that carnosine protected the blood supply to the retina.

    Immune System

    L-carnosine might be one of the elusive ingredients that make chicken soup your go-to food for preventing and healing colds and flu, according to a study published in the "Journal of Basic and Clinical Physiology and Pharmacology" in 2013. Chicken is a rich source of amino acid, which offers several antiviral benefits, including warding off infection and providing antioxidant activity to minimize the damage of an existing infection. Researchers noted, however, that the digestive process, which breaks down L-carnosine, might diminish some of its benefits. To remedy that situation, they have devised a nondigestible supplement form of L-carnosine, which, though not a replacement for your mother's chicken soup recipe, may get you over your cold or flu a little faster.

    Brain Power

    Your brain might benefit from L-carnosine supplementation, according to a study published in the January 2013 issue of "Stroke." Brain cells that had been exposed to low-oxygen conditions and treated with L-carnosine were more responsive to sensory stimulation. L-carnosine also provided antioxidant benefits that protected brain cells from oxidation -- damage due to accumulated toxins and waste products -- and protected the energy-producing parts of cells. Researchers noted that carnosine was well-tolerated and had no toxic side effects.

    Ulcer Prevention

    A combination of zinc and L-carnosine offers potent antioxidant benefits that might prevent ulcers by protecting stomach cells from damaging effects of toxins and waste products, according to an animal study published in the "Journal of Pharmacological Sciences" in July 2009. Doctors use the hybrid molecule, called polaprezinc, as an anti-ulcer drug. In the study, treatment with polaprezinc helped heal ulcers, in part, by promoting production of an important antioxidant enzyme. Researchers noted that this study was the first of its kind to show the robust antioxidant benefits of the L-carnosine-containing compound.

    About the Author

    Tracey Roizman has been a writer and speaker on natural and preventive health care since 1995. She holds a B.S. in nutritional biochemistry and a doctor of chiropractic degree, and is a postgraduate diplomate in chiropractic functional neurology.