Dr C P Ravikumar

Introduction: L Carnosine is a naturally occurring protein that may be found all over the body, but is seen in heavier concentrations in the brain, heart and in muscles when they are active.
Carnosine synthetase is an enzyme that helps with carnosine production. It is broken up into its constituent amino acid elements by an enzyme called Carnosinase.

a. Natural: In its natural form it is present in the body as a dipeptide, ie a compound made out of two linked amino acids, alanine and histidine. It is also found in beef, and poultry. There are no known plant-based sources of carnosine, therefore a vegetarian or vegan diet will probably result in lower levels of carnosine in the body.
b. Supplements: It is available as a food supplement, and can be taken by mouth or applied to skin. The correct dose of carnosine depends on several factors such as the individual’s age and health, as caution should be taken while consuming even “natural products”. It should be taken after consultation with a physician.

Health Benefits of L- Carnosine
It helps to repair and regenerate cells and tissues and therefore reduces signs of aging. It has also shown promise as an exercise enhancer and has been used by sportsmen to improve their performance though muscle gain. It is also known to positively affect energy and calcium metabolism and reduce lactic acid accumulation in skeletal muscles, preventing muscle fatigue.
Some studies suggest that it helps to improve symptoms of neurological disorders like Autism, Alzheimer’s, Parkinsonism or brain ischemia, as it is present in measurable quantities in the brain and surrounding cerebrospinal fluid, along with an ability to cross the blood brain barrier. It suggests neuroprotective functions and may be a neuromodulator and endogenous antioxidant, reducing signs of inflammation.  It is touted as a natural remedy to improve vision, complications sue to diabetes, preventing kidney disease, improving immunity and preventing depression. It also helps to prevent build-up of atherosclerotic plaques in the blood vessels.

Excessive Levels of L Carnosine: Carnosinemia
Deficiency of carnosinase enzyme (which helps in the break down and metabolism of carnosine) leads to excessive levels of carnosine in the blood. This is a rare genetic, autosomal recessive genetic condition (which means one defective gene from each parent is required to inherit the disorder)
This disorder may cause hypotonia (or muscle weakness), sensory neuropathy, seizures or tremors, developmental delays and intellectual disabilities, during childhood.
The diagnosis of carnosinaemia is usually made by the detection of high levels of carnosine in the blood and urine, along with low levels of carnosinase enzyme. Testing is usually done after exclusion of meat from the diet, in order to eliminate interference in levels from dietary sources. Patients may also show abnormal EEG activity in the brain.
Treatment involves treating and managing the symptoms, under the guidance of a clinical neurologist, along with a vegetarian diet, in the absence of any known medications for the same.

L carnosine should be used with caution:
  1. When taken along with anti-hypertensive medications, L carnosine supplements may decrease blood pressure to harmfully low levels, and should be taken after consulting a doctor
  2. During pregnancy and while nursing new borns

The above information is for awareness and education purposes only and cannot be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition. Please consult with a physician for any concerns or questions

Picture of Dr C P Ravikumar

Dr C P Ravikumar

Aster CMI Hospital, Bangalore