Carnosine is formed by the chemical combination of two amino acids, beta-alanine and histidine; occurs naturally in animals and humans, and is especially predominant in brain and muscle cells. Research shows that there is a direct correlation between carnosine levels and lifespan, according to a report in the 2003 "Bulletin of Experimental Biology and Medicine." Carnosine has rejuvenating and antioxidant effects on cellular, protein, lipid and DNA structures and protects these structures from destructive free radicals. Carnosine can be found in various food sources and carnosine supplements are widely available.
Meat provides the most abundant natural source of carnosine. Beef contains approximately 1,500 milligrams of carnosine per pound, notes Belitz, Grosh and Sheiberle, authors of Food Chemistry, and poultry and pork contain 2,000 milligrams carnosine per pound. The average daily carnosine intake ranges from 50 to 250 milligrams, depending on the amount of beef, pork, poultry or fish a person consumes, notes Dr. Michael T. Murray, author of dozens of books on health and nutrition, on DoctorOz.com. Murray notes that the many therapeutic claims that have been made about carnosine should be regarded sceptically as more clinical research is needed to document and validate these claims.
Fish is another dietary source of carnosine. With a growing number of individuals pursuing vegetarian or vegan lifestyles there may be more emphasis on carnosine supplementation, notes Supplement News. It has been shown that the concentration of carnosine in the body lowers as we age, says Vital Health Zone, which makes adequate carnosine intake from food or carnosine supplementation an important consideration for older individuals. Additionally, even though carnosine is absorbed in its intact form, in the blood it is degraded extensively, especially in people who exercise regularly. Therefore, athletes and exercise fanatics should also ensure adequate carnosine intake.
Carnosine supplements usually supply between 100 to 300 milligrams of carnosine, notes Murray. The recommended daily intake is 300-600 milligrams notes Vital Health Zone. Currently, it is primarily taken as a supplement for its anti-oxidant and anti-aging properties, notes Supplement News. For all intents and purposes, carnosine is essentially non-toxic and there are no known major side effects or drug incompatibilities. At doses over 1 grams, notes Vital Health Zone, there have been some reports of muscle twitching. Carnosine deficiencies are extremely rare, but supplementation helps to ensure that an enzyme called carnosinase is saturated with carnosine, which enables the release of “free” carnosine in the body. As with all supplements, it is important to consult a medical professional before taking carnosine.