According to the University of Michigan, carnosine is a substance comprised of two amino acids, and it occurs in the muscles, the brain, and the heart . Researchers have taken an interest in the effects of carnosine supplementation, conducting studies to determine its impact on the brain and cognitive functioning. The research-backed benefits of this supplement are worthy of attention.
Carnosine against Vascular Dementia
Carnosine could exert cognitive benefits on a brain that has experienced damage from vascular dementia. In a 2012 study in the journal CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics, researchers from Zhejiang University in China assessed the impact of carnosine on the cognitive functioning of mice suffering from brain damage associated with vascular dementia. They found that carnosine supplementation treated cognitive deficits, as evidenced by improved performance on tasks associated with object recognition and passive avoidance .
Carnosine and Autism
In addition to its ability to improve cognitive performance in cases of vascular dementia, carnosine can have a beneficial impact on individuals with autism. In a 2002 study in the Journal of Child Neurology, scientists working for Autism and Epilepsy Specialty Services of Illinois compared the effects of carnosine to those of a placebo on children diagnosed with autism. Study results showed that children who received the placebo did not improve, but those taking a carnosine supplement showed improvement on an autism rating scale and demonstrated better skills in the areas of communication, socialization, and behaviors after supplementation. Children receiving carnosine also demonstrated an improvement in vocabulary. Study authors concluded that carnosine could have benefits for neurological functioning .
Carnosine for Alzheimer’s Disease
Beyond its benefits for children with autism, carnosine could be beneficial for older adults, specifically for preventing the development of Alzheimer’s disease. In a 2011 study in the medical journal PLOS ONE, researchers from various universities in Italy analyzed the effects of carnosine on the brains of mice. Study results showed that carnosine supplementation reduced the buildup of tangles in an area of the brain called the hippocampus, which is associated with memory. In addition, carnosine resulted in reduced cellular dysfunction related to Alzheimer’s and aging . Supplementing with carnosine could, therefore, help protect the brain from deterioration that leads to memory impairment and age-related neurocognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s.
Carnosine for the Aging Brain
Carnosine could prevent the development of Alzheimer’s, and it could be beneficial for the aging brain in general. Researchers from Istanbul University and Yeditepe University in Turkey conducted a study with carnosine for publication in a 2016 edition of Metabolic Brain Disease, analyzing its effects on the brains of rats demonstrating brain damage and oxidative stress. Based upon the results of the study, these researchers concluded that carnosine could be protective against oxidative stress, cell death, and deterioration in the brain .
Carnosine in Cases of Schizophrenia
In addition to protecting the aging brain, carnosine seems to improve cognitive functioning among individuals with schizophrenia. Researchers from University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Dubois Regional Medical Center, New York University, Queen’s University, and David Geffen School of Medicine conducted a study in which they gave patients with schizophrenia either a placebo or a carnosine supplement. Study results, which they published in a 2012 edition of Schizophrenia Research, showed that patients who took carnosine performed better on some cognitive tests when compared to those who took the placebo . Based on the results of this study, carnosine could help benefit mental functioning among people with mental health conditions.
Promotes Longevity and Fights Aging
The body’s production of l-carnosine declines as you get older, which could contribute to the body’s aging. L-carnosine reinvigorates cells, delays cell death and improves energy production in cells. By reducing aging on a cellular level, l-carnosine fights aging and its effects on the entire body .
A study that looked at the aging process in mice administered l-carnosine supplements to one group and nothing to another group. Fifty-eight percent of the l-carnosine group looked healthy and behaved youthfully in old age, whereas only 5 percent of the control group displayed signs of vigor .
A study on rats uncovered more of the story behind l-carsonine’s anti-aging effects. When researchers injected l-carnosine into the connective tissue of rats, they saw increased production of vimentin. Vimentin is a protein that helps eliminate oxidized proteins, which are linked to impaired cell turnover. When oxidized proteins accumulate without being properly eliminated from the body, they accelerate the aging process .
Another way l-carnosine regulates the body in a way that reduces aging is by reducing protein glycation. Protein glycation is the binding of sugars to proteins–a chemical reaction that contributes to aging by damaging cellular proteins. L-carsonine binds to molecules that would otherwise bind to and damage proteins, thereby eliminating this source of aging .
L-carsonine also protects the body from age-related diseases by chelating metals in the body and preventing the DNA damage they cause .
Mitochondria, the energy-producing component within each cell, become less functional with age, which contributes to faster cell death. According to an Italian study, mice administered l-carnosine experienced a reversal of age-related mitochondrial dysfunction. In fact, older mice given l-carnosine exhibited better mitochondrial function than younger, healthy mice .
Protects Against Oxidative Stress
Another way l-carnosine helps improve cellular health and fights aging is by acting as an antioxidant. When free radicals aren’t kept in check by antioxidants, they disrupt cellular structures and raise your risk of serious diseases like cancer and diabetes. In a study on mice undergoing chemotherapy, l-carsonine supplementation helped reduced oxidative stress through its antioxidant abilities, which reduced the toxicity of the chemotherapy drug cyclophosphamide .
The research has shown that carnosine is beneficial in cases of schizophrenia, and in general, this supplement seems to be helpful for promoting brain health. Researchers from the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences conducted a review of the research with carnosine and published a report in a 2010 edition of Rejuvenation Research. Based upon the findings of their review, they concluded that carnosine helps prevent degeneration in the nervous system and recommended this supplement for treating oxidative stress. They also reported that carnosine is effective and doesn’t have adverse effects .
It seems reasonable to conclude that carnosine can help slow brain deterioration and help to maintain healthy brain functioning. Studies have shown that supplementing with carnosine can help improve cognitive functioning in individuals with schizophrenia and ameliorate symptoms of autism. This substance also seems to improve cognitive functioning in cases of dementia and to help protect against Alzheimer’s and the effects of aging. Based upon these benefits, a carnosine supplement can be useful for anyone who wants to maintain optimal brain functioning.