David Tomen
David Tomen
12 minute read
L-Carnosine improves cognition, memory, energy levels, prevents brain cell death, and is anti-aging.

L-Carnosine (β-alanyl-L-histidine) is a natural histidine containing dipeptide amino acid and the other being beta-alanine. Carnosine is found throughout your body. The highest concentrations are in high energy demand areas such as your brain, heart and muscles.

L-Carnosine is known as the ‘longevity molecule’. But don’t let that put you off if you’re not concerned about anti-aging. Carnosine levels decrease with age – starting at age 10! And decrease by 63% by the time you reach 70 years.[i]

L-Carnosine is one of the most powerful antioxidants known. It’s a heavy-metal scavenger. It’s a super auto-regulator. And it stands alone when it comes to preventing and reversing advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and cross-linking. And it’s highly concentrated in your brain.

Your brain uses l-carnosine to repair tissue and clear away toxins. And increase the energy output of your mitochondria. It suppresses excess immune responses when your immune system is in hyper mode. And it stimulates the immune response if you have a weakened immune system.

L-Carnosine helps:

  • Neuro-repair: L-Carnosine prevents and reverses the damage done by advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs are created in your brain by sugars binding to amino acids, and caused by a variety of things including certain food and cooking techniques. Affecting word recall, response time, and cognition.
  • Brain Energy: L-Carnosine can revive mitochondria. And even rescue your brain cells if the mitochondria have stopped functioning.
  • Neuroprotectant: L-Carnosine has a powerful antioxidant effect in your brain. It continues to prevent oxidative damage even after brain cells have been attacked by free radicals. Preventing brain cell death and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.


l-carnosine for longevity

L-Carnosine (β-alanyl-L-histidine) is a dipeptide of the amino acids beta-alanine and histidine. Carnosine is found throughout your body. The highest concentrations are in high energy demand areas such as your brain, heart and muscles. (Don’t mistake l-carnosine for l-carnitine).

L-Carnosine is known as the ‘longevity molecule’ and targets several major processes in your brain and body. It removes heavy metals which accumulate in, and damage brain cells causing diseases like Alzheimer’s.[ii] And it prevents cross-linking of proteins which cause the neurofibrillary tangles found in Alzheimer’s.[iii]

L-Carnosine fights mitochondrial dysfunction by relieving oxidative stress caused by accumulation of free radicals in cells.[iv]

This not only works in your brain cells. L-Carnosine is used by athletes to achieve better results. Its buffering nature contributes to the acid-base balance in muscles.

Researchers have found l-carnosine restores neurotransmitter receptors. Receptors that were damaged from stroke or glutamate toxicity.[v]

And l-carnosine reduces damage to telomeres. These caps on the end of DNA strands shorten with each cell replication. This natural, ongoing process is used for example in long-term potentiation needed to form memories. L-carnosine slows the rate of shortening of telomeres.[vi]

Some l-carnosine is naturally produced in your body by the enzyme carnosine synthetase. And you can get l-carnosine from food – primarily from red meat and poultry. But a typical meal provides only about 250 mg of carnosine. It’s then quickly degraded in your body by the carnosinase enzyme.

This means carnosine from food doesn’t last long enough in your body to provide much benefit. And if you’re a vegetarian, you won’t be getting much carnosine other than what’s naturally produced in your body.

Supplementing with at least 1,000 mg of l-carnosine per day overwhelms that carnosinase enzyme. Allowing you to maintain consistent blood levels of this vital nutrient.

L-Carnosine is anti-aging brain nutrition

How does L-Carnosine Work in the Brain?

L-Carnosine boosts brain health and function in several ways. But two in particular stand out.

  1. L-Carnosine is critical for brain health. L-Carnosine’s antioxidant, neuroprotective, chelating, and anti-glycation activity not only maintains optimal brain health. This dipeptide can be used to prevent and treat neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes, diseases of the sense organs (i.e. eyes) and cancer.[vii]

L-Carnosine has been shown to reduce oxidative and glycemic stress.[viii] And it reduces inflammation. L-carnosine reduces the accumulation of b-amyloid plaque which plays a role in cognitive dysfunction and Alzheimer’s. And it helps remove heavy metals that cross the blood-brain barrier and accumulate in brain cells.[ix]

  1. L-Carnosine is required for healthy mitochondria. In your brain, you can have thousands of mitochondria in each cell. And they pump out energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). 20% of your body’s total ATP is located in your brain.

Glycation during this energy production reduces the functionality and efficiency of mitochondria. This is turn can cause apoptosis (cell death).[x] Glycation happens when proteins or DNA bond chemically to sugar molecules.

These sugar molecules go on to form advanced glycation end products (AGEs). These AGEs are implicated in Alzheimer’s, skin wrinkles, hardened arteries, and reducing the function of most major organs. Including your brain.

A study in the Netherland was done to examine the association between AGEs and cognitive function. This population-based study also included 215 people with type 2 diabetes.

Researchers tested for global cognitive functioning, information processing speed, verbal memory (immediate and delayed word recall), and response inhibition.

The study found there was a direct correlation with markers measured for AGEs and decreased cognitive performance. And the associations were no different between healthy people and those with diabetes.[xi]

Another study out of the University of California determined that l-carnosine was able to prevent AGEs.[xii]

How things go bad

Free electrons are a byproduct of ATP energy production. These electrons convert oxygen to a highly reactive form capable of damaging brain cells. And wreaking havoc with DNA in the long-term.L-Carnosine supports healthy DNA

If left unchecked, it leads to neurodegenerative disease like memory loss, cognition dysfunction, and eventually diseases like Alzheimer’s.

ATP levels decline in mitochondria

Cognition, learning, memory and recall decline

AGEs damage brain cells

↓ Free radicals damage brain cell mitochondria

All of these changes can happen at any age. And can start at age 10 or earlier (in the case of autism).

So l-carnosine supplementation can help for age-related cognitive decline, as well as anyone who wants to boost cognition, learning, recall and memory.

L-Carnosine benefits

There is a proven high correlation between human lifespan and l-carnosine levels. Having high levels of skeletal muscle carnosine contributes to a number of life-extending activities. As L-Carnosine is highly concentrated in your muscles and brain.

L-Carnosine helps prevent the buildup of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) that damage mitochondria. And eventually end in premature cell death.

It is a heavy metal chelator and works by removing heavy metal accumulation in brain cells. L-carnosine is an anti-oxidant and pH buffer in muscle cells preventing lactic acid buildup.

How does L-Carnosine feel?

When you start taking L-Carnosine, you’ll notice younger-looking skin. And you’ll have more energy.

L-Carnosine boosts energyYou should experience a boost in cognition and decision-making capability. Thinking could be more fluid and your motivation may see a boost.

These changes are reported by neurohackers in their 20’s and 30’s as well as the more senior user.

But most of the talk and research on l-carnosine is on its anti-aging and longevity benefits. So what if I told you it also helps fight the flu?

It turns out that the influenza virus raises nitric oxide (NO) and oxygen free radicals such as superoxide anion (O₂⁻˙). When NO and O2 interact, they form peroxynitrite, the pathogen that causes pneumonia.

The excess amount of toxicity and oxygen radicals generated overwhelms your immune system. A study in the American Journal of Therapeutics reports that l-carnosine can put a stop to this overwhelm. And help you avoid or get rid of the flu or cold.

And eating chicken soup to make you feel better when your sick is not an ‘old wife’s tale’ after all. Chicken soup is rich in l-carnosine.[xiii]

L-Carnosine Clinical Research

L-Carnosine improves cognition

Animal and human studies suggest NMDA antagonists worsen executive function. This dysfunction is often caused by glutamate toxicity. And if this persists, you end up with diseases like schizophrenia.

This double-blind, placebo-controlled study worked with 75 adults with schizophrenia. They were stable in their symptoms at the time of the study. Subjects were randomly selected to receive 2 grams of l-carnosine per day for 3 months.

Executive dysfunction, memory, attention and motor speed were assessed at the beginning, and at 4 and 12 weeks. The l-carnosine group performed much better in executive function tests. And were better at strategy with fewer errors than the placebo group.[xiv]

L-Carnosine improves autism symptoms in children

L-Carnosine enhances frontal lobe function in your brain. And acts as a neuroprotectant. It also works with GABA for an anticonvulsive effect.

This double-blind study work with 31 children with autism for 8 weeks. They were given 800 mg of l-carnosine per day. The scientists then used several autism rating scales to measure results.

After 8 weeks of l-carnosine use, the children showed significant improvement in behavior, sociability, communication and vocabulary. The researchers concluded that l-carnosine enhanced neurologic function.[xv]

L-Carnosine is anti-aging

In 1965, Dr. Leonard Hayflick found that human cells have a limited capacity to divide. After which they become ‘senescent’. This is now known as the “Hayflick Limit”.

L-Carnosine slows brain cell apostosisHayflick discovered that your cells go through 3 phases. This first is rapid cell division called ‘mitosis’. The 2nd is where mitosis slows. And the 3rd stage is ‘senescence’ where the cell stops dividing entirely. They remain alive for a while and then do a particularly disturbing thing. They commit suicide. This programmed cell death is called ‘apoptosis’.

This cell life cycle occurs throughout your body and its trillions of cells. Including in your brain. But what if there was some way to slow down this programmed cell death?

Turns out there is. And it’s called L-Carnosine. Researchers at Sydney Laboratory in Australia found that l-carnosine extended cell life. They put cultured aged human cells in a petri dish with carnosine. The cells reverted back to juvenile cells.

When they put those same newly rejuvenated cells in a culture that had no carnosine, they reverted back to their old self again. Put them back in carnosine and they got young again.[xvi]

This experiment has been done again and again in labs around the world. Establishing l-carnosine as the best anti-aging thing since Ponce de Leon was searching for the Fountain of Youth right here in Florida (where I’m writing this article).L-Carnosine is an anti-aging fountain of youth

David Guetta thinks that Miami is “the sexiest city in the world”. Could be that everybody in Miami is using l-carnosine.

L-Carnosine Recommended Dosage

Recommended L-Carnosine dosage is up to 1,000 mg per day.

To keep a consistent level of L-Carnosine in your body, split your dose into two 500 mg doses. One in the morning and one later in the afternoon.

One important note on L-Carnosine. When you supplement with L-Carnosine it binds to aldehydes. Preventing them from making proteins. The byproduct is lipofuscin. This age pigment is not dangerous. But shows up as brown spots on your brain, skin and other organs.

As lipofuscin builds up over time, and this process is accelerated when using l-carnosine, it can interfere with proper organ and cellular functions.

This is why I recommend stacking L-Carnosine with CDP-Choline (Citicoline) and acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR). CDP-Choline provides a choline molecule for the synthesis of acetylcholine (ACh). And ALCAR works as a cofactor in this synthesis as well as boosting mitochondrial energy production while acting as a neuroprotectant.

You can also try adding DMAE with CDP-Choline and ALCAR which helps flush lipofuscin from your brain and body. So stack your daily dose of 1,000 mg of L-Carnosine with CDP-Choline, DMAE and ALCAR at their recommended doses.

L-Carnosine is water-soluble so you don’t need to take it with a meal, or healthy fat like some nootropics.

L-Carnosine Side Effects

Carnosine is considered an extremely non-toxic and safe. High doses can cause insomnia. And L-Carnosine can cause a stimulant effect. So take your 2nd dose before evening.

Type of L-Carnosine to Buy

L-Carnosine comes in powder, capsule, tablet and liquid form.

Most major supplement manufacturers offer 500 mg tablets or capsules.

But make sure you read the labels and get L-Carnosine in its natural form. Some manufacturers will try to fool you by calling their synthetic carnosine natural sounding names like “nature-identical”. But lab created l-carnosine is not the real thing and not nearly as bioavailable.

Nootropics Expert Recommendation

L-Carnosine 1,000 mg per day

Nootropics Expert Tested and ApprovedI recommend using L-Carnosine as a nootropic supplement.

Your body does make some L-Carnosine on its own from the amino acids beta-alanine and histidine. And you can get small quantities from red meat and poultry. But it’s easily and quickly broken down by the enzyme carnosine synthetase.

So to get its benefits, and enough to overwhelm the carnosinase enzyme, you must take it as a supplement.

L-Carnosine is especially helpful for repairing brain cells at the mitochondria level. It removes heavy metals, works as a very powerful antioxidant, and gets rid of AGEs.

Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) kill brain cells. Foods that are high in AGEs include roasted, fried, sautéed and barbecued meats, nuts and tofu. Those fries you had for lunch? Brain cell death.

Your natural production of L-Carnosine starts to drop at age 10. So anyone will benefit from supplementing with this anti-aging nutrient.

L-Carnosine helps control blood glucose levels, prevent Alzheimer’s, wound healing, protects from the side effects of chemo therapy, alcohol-induced liver damage, combatting heart disease, and eye health by protecting or repairing cataracts.

L-Carnosine is also particularly useful if you’re dealing with autism or Alzheimer’s. For autism, dose up to 800 mg per day. For Alzheimer’s, dose at least 1,000 mg per day.

And don’t forget to stack your daily L-Carnosine dose with DMAE and ALCAR. (See Dosage Notes)

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This post may also contain other affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

[i] Stuerenburg H.J., Kunze K. “Concentrations of free carnosine (a putative membrane-protective antioxidant) in human muscle biopsies and rat muscles.” Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics. 1999 Sep-Oct;29(2):107-13. (source)

[ii] Hipkiss A.R. “Could carnosine or related structures suppress Alzheimer’s disease?” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. 2007 May;11(2):229-40. (source)

[iii] Wang A.M., Ma C., Xie Z.H., Shen F. “Use of carnosine as a natural anti-senescence drug for human beings.” Biochemistry. 2000 Jul;65(7):869-71. (source)

[iv] Nagai K., Niijima A., Yamano T., Otani H., Okumra N., Tsuruoka N., Nakai M., Kiso Y. “Possible role of L-carnosine in the regulation of blood glucose through controlling autonomic nerves.” Experimental and Biological Medicine (Maywood). 2003 Nov;228(10):1138-45. (source)

[v] Khama-Murad A.Kh., Mokrushin A.A., Pavlinova L.I. “Neuroprotective properties of l-carnosine in the brain slices exposed to autoblood in the hemorrhagic stroke model in vitro.” Regulatory Peptides. 2011 Feb 25;167(1):65-9 (source)

[vi] Shao L., Li Q.H., Tan Z. “L-carnosine reduces telomere damage and shortening rate in cultured normal fibroblasts.” Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. 2004 Nov 12;324(2):931-6. (source)

[vii] Budzeń S., Rymaszewska J. “The biological role of carnosine and its possible applications in medicine.” Advances in Clinical and Experimental Medicine. 2013 Sep-Oct;22(5):739-44. (source)

[viii] Kohen R., Yamamoto Y., Cundy K.C., Ames B.N.. “Antioxidant activity of carnosine, homocarnosine, and anserine present in muscle and brain.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA Vol. 85, pp. 3175-3179, May 1988. (source)

[ix] Brown C.E., Antholine W.E. “Chelation chemistry of carnosine. Evidence that mixed complexes may occur in vivo” The Journal of Physical Chemistry 1979, 83 (26), pp 3314–3319 (source)

[x] Alikhani Z., Alikhani M., Boyd C.M., Nagao K., Trackman P.C., Graves D.T. “Advanced glycation end products enhance expression of pro-apoptotic genes and stimulate fibroblast apoptosis through cytoplasmic and mitochondrial pathways.” Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2005 Apr 1;280(13):12087-95. (source)

[xi] Spauwen P.J. et. Al. “Associations of advanced glycation end-products with cognitive functions in individuals with and without type 2 diabetes: the maastricht study.” Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2015 Mar;100(3):951-60. (source)

[xii] Pepper E.D., Farrell M.J., Nord G., Finkel S.E. “Antiglycation effects of carnosine and other compounds on the long-term survival of Escherichia coli.” Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 2010 Dec;76(24):7925-30. (source)

[xiii] Babizhayev M.A., Deyev A.I. “Management of the virulent influenza virus infection by oral formulation of nonhydrolized carnosine and isopeptide of carnosine attenuating proinflammatory cytokine-induced nitric oxide production.” American Journal of Therapeutics. 2012 Jan;19(1):e25-47 (source)

[xiv] Chengappa K.N. et. Al. “A preliminary, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of L-carnosine to improve cognition in schizophrenia.” Schizophrenia Research. 2012 Dec;142(1-3):145-52. (source)

[xv] Chez M.G., Buchanan C.P., Aimonovitch M.C., Becker M., Schaefer K., Black C., Komen J. “Double-blind, placebo-controlled study of L-carnosine supplementation in children with autistic spectrum disorders.”Journal of Child Neurology. 2002 Nov;17(11):833-7. (source)

[xvi] McFarland G.A., Holliday R. “Further evidence for the rejuvenating effects of the dipeptide L-carnosine on cultured human diploid fibroblasts.” Experimental Gerontology. 1999 Jan;34(1):35-45. (source)

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Join The Discussion - 153 comments

May 28, 2024

I asked the lipofusion question to Life Extension company a few months ago, and they determined it does NOT create lipofusion. I am 68 and after taking Carnosine for sometime now, still have no age spots on my hands or anywhere else. My understanding is most age spots are a result of oxidized cholesterol.

    David Tomen
    May 31, 2024

    Mary, my research shows the opposite of what Life Extension says. Keep in mind lipofuscin is also produced within your body and brain where you can’t see it. Unless we autopsy you which I don’t think you like.:-). But if you feel OK using Carnosine because you are not seeing any age spots then keep doing what you’re doing.

April 21, 2024

how to recognize synthetic L-carnosine? Only L-carnosine is listed on my supplement.

    David Tomen
    April 22, 2024

    Matthew, a lot of companies label their supplement L-Carnosine and their supplement facts label says “beta alanine” instead. Which is a precursor to L-Carnosine. But it is not Carnosine.

April 16, 2024

l carnosine can help to repair neurons that has been damage from adderall or effect the dopamine receptors?

    David Tomen
    April 22, 2024

    L-Carnosine and NAC.

April 12, 2024

Is L-Carnosine 1000mg per day safe for pregnant or breast feeding women?

    David Tomen
    April 17, 2024

    Linden, I have not seen anything to indicate L-Carnosine would be a problem in this case.

March 13, 2024

Thanks for your reply. That study you link is a carbon nanotube study that references another study regarding l-carnosine being “a likely lipofuscin precursor”, but does not prove it – it merely is quoting another study – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9744078/ that was done in 1998. Over 100 other studies reference this same quote from this 1998 study “Carnosine is an aldehyde scavenger, a likely lipofuscin (age pigment) precursor and possible modulator of diabetic complications, atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease.”

But here’s the thing, the author of the original study also wrote this paper in 1999, in which he is clear he is just speculating that l-caronsine causes lipofuscin to increase. http://protein.bio.msu.ru/biokhimiya/contents/v65/full/65070907.html. He states, “It is tempting to speculate on the possible fates of the postulated carnosinylated proteins (see Fig. 4). One possibility is that the carnosine adducts are a form of lipofuscin, the so-called age pigment.” He then shows a diagram of the process which he calls hypothetical. So it is just one possibility. He then goes on to list another, “Another possible fate of the carnosinylated proteins is proteolysis”, which is also backed up by some evidence although not a firm conclusion. And he lists a third. So this is just one of three possibilities.

My point is that I don’t think there is any evidence that l-carnosine increases lipofuscin in any scientific study. I am wondering if somehow everyone is basing their information on this much-quoted 1998 old study where he says he was speculating.
I know that you took l-carnosine for a number of years. Did you (or anyone else) notice increased age spots? It would be nice to get to the bottom of this as I know some people won’t take l-carnosine because of this fear of it producing lipofiscin, which may not be true.

Curious as to your take on the original study.

    David Tomen
    March 15, 2024

    Troy, I do not have time to debate this with you. If you choose to use L-Carnosine and you see age spots appearing up on your skin then you know where they came from.

    If lipofuscin is not your worry then don’t concern yourself with it and just enjoy using the supplement.

March 12, 2024

You state that everything you post is from peer-reviewed studies. What peer-reviewed study states that l-carosine use leads to increased lipofuscin?

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