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L-carnosine is made up of two linked amino acids: beta-alanine< and L-histidine.
Studies after studies have shown that L-carnosine is a potent weapon used in the battle against aging and degenerative disease.
It is naturally found in all cells, but in higher quantities in the skeletal muscles, heart muscles and the brain.
But as we aged, not only muscle carnosine levels will decrease, optimum conversion from foods (meat, poultry and fish) too become inefficient.
Hence, the best way to replenish your carnosine levels is through supplementation.
First let’s find out what’s so unique about this good-guy amino acid? Does it really live up to its reputation as ‘nature’s multipurpose age-fighter’?
The Uninvited Guests
We all know excessive free radicals create havoc in the body; and antioxidants are our defense against these rogue cell destroyers. Amongst all the antioxidants, L-carnosine is one of the body’s best free radical scavengers.
Free radicals are extremely attracted to cell membranes—yes, to the lipids (fats) that make up this gate keeper of cell.
The oxidation of lipids (lipid peroxidation) in the membranes in particular of brain cells, is the major source of cellular dysfunction in the brain.
In addition, highly toxic byproducts that damage proteins and inhibit the synthesis of protein and DNA are produced.
Lipid peroxidation is particularly significant in Alzheimer's disease, where it is found in abundance in the vicinity of senile brain cell plaques.
Eradicate the Uninviting Guests ...
... before they eradicate you!
This is where L-carnosine comes in. This super amino acid can dramatically reduce the levels of lipid peroxidation products. It also quenches the most destructive and reactive protein-damaging agent, the hydroxyl radicals.
By neutralizing free radicals, it protects cellular DNA and proteins from oxidative damage. Antioxidants, however, cannot completely protect proteins.
Nature's second line of defense is to repair or remove damaged proteins. This is where another one of carnosine’s unique ability demonstrates its most profound anti-aging effect.
AGEs Spell Trouble!
Proteins are the substances most responsible for the daily functioning of living organisms.
Protein destruction can be caused by free radicals AND an icky process called glycation—a process where sugars bind to protein to form advanced glycation end products or simply AGEs.
These damaged proteins, AGEs, spell bad news—not unless you want to look old and crumbly, and don’t mind having poor mental health!
AGEs are one of the biggest factors in the aging process. And the situation becomes really bad when these bad-guys go around cross-linking with each other, with other healthy molecules, and even with DNA to form poisonous chemical compounds plus other toxic by-products!
When too many proteins lose their ability to function, naturally, your body becomes prone to degenerative diseases and premature aging ensues. Another study has shown that AGEs produce 50-fold more free radicals than non-glycated amino acids!
If this is not enough for one session, we can squeeze in another of AGEs’ damaging properties: AGEs also increase the formation of amyloid beta which is a toxic material found in the brains of older people and abundant in Alzheimer and dementia patients.
If the facts above are too much for you to absorb, just remember this, AGEs = AGEing.
AGEs are 'HOT'
Even worse, AGEs trigger inflammatory reactions. The chemical that is implicated in inflammation is MDA (malondialdehyde). MDA is a dangerous chemical by-product of lipid peroxidation, and is also a major factor in the production of AGEs from glycation.
Do you see that all these major causes of aging: free radicals, inflammation, and glycation are interrelated? (There is another cause—a major one—methylation.)
'Carno' Can Stop AGEs!
L-carnosine, the good-guys, has been shown to protect the cells lining the brain arterial and capillary system from damage by amyloid beta as well as by-products of lipid oxidation and alcohol metabolism.
L-carnosine has also shown to inhibit MDA, keep MDA from inducing AGEs cross-linking, and even decrease MDA levels.
As mentioned, the body also uses carnosine to repair or remove damaged proteins. In a word, carnosine may be the most effective commercially available agent known to stop the glycation bad-guys, AGEs.
Such anti-glycosylation property may be beneficial in complications of diabetes such as cataracts, neuropathy and kidney failure, which also arise from glycation.
Metal Ions Toxicity?
While the body cannot live without copper and zinc, new research confirms that they can also be neurotoxic if their balance is disturbed.
Acting as neurotransmitters—a chemical that helps transmit message from one neuron’s synaptic terminal, aka ‘adaptor’ to the receptor, aka ‘socket’ of another neuron (note that there is a ‘gap’ called synaptic cleft between the adapter and socket)—copper and zinc are high in concentrations in the brain and nervous system.
When they are released from synaptic terminals, the brain must buffer these ionic metals so that they can perform their functions without neurotoxicity.
An imbalance in copper and zinc levels and an abnormal copper-zinc metabolism contribute to amyloid beta formation that leads to brain cell plaque formation in Alzheimer's disease; they are also implicated in stroke, seizures, and many other diseases with neurological components.
'Carno' Protects Your Brain & Nerves
L-carnosine can help in the buffering activity by chelating ionic copper-zinc metals (flush toxins from the body). As a potent copper-zinc chelating agent, it also inhibits the cross-linking of amyloid beta by dissolving it.
Not only does carnosine chelate copper and zinc, but the presence of copper and zinc ions enhances carnosine's potency as a scavenger of the superoxide radical.
In another published article (link), L-carnosine helps protect the body’s enzymatic antioxidant Copper-Zinc-SOD against oxidative damage caused by peroxyl radicals.
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