|Carnosine + anserine supps could help her keep up with her grand daughter - physically and mentally!|
So, even if you haven't heard about anserine before, at least the idea that taking carnosine supplements, or maybe I should say, increasing brain carnosine levels could be a good thing for your cognitive abilities should sound vaguely familiar... and if it does not, this would be another reason to read this article ;-)
You should not be concerned, though, if it doesn't sound familiar, when I tell you that Budzen et al. report in their paper in the Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics that the provision of both, carnosine and its "bird analogue" anserine, which is the major "buffering" dipeptide in bird muscle, will have astonishingly significant beneficial effects on the cognitive functioning and physical capacity of elderly individuals.
No wonder, considering the fact that carnosine, anserine and related compounds are reported to play an important physiological role in the body.
- They have antioxidant properties, cytosolic buffering capabilities and maintain an acid-base balance in excitable tissues of animals and humans.
- Carnosine is an antiglycating agent. That means it protects your cells from the sugary glue that plasters their exhaust pipes until they start malfunctioning (What? No, that's not an accurate analogy, but I guess, you get what it means ;-)
- They have metal ion-chelating properties and can thus prevent toxic damage from "bad" and not so "bad" metals. Eventually even things like zinc and copper, iron, and calcium, metals your body needs for proper function, will harm you, when they cannot be handled by the body appropriately - as amino acid chelates (you don't have to take them in this form, you just have to have the building blocks your body needs to produce them!)
- Carnosine has also been shown to extend the life of cells in cell culture conditions and to regulate the activity of calcium channels in skeletal muscles.
Studies conducted on rats and mice show that carnosine has a neuroprotective potential against cerebral ischemia, and indirectly reduces the mortality of the animal (Stvolinsky. 2000; Dobrota. 2005; Rajanikant. 2007). Human studies in patients with chronic discirculatory encephalopathy stress, a specific form of what you could call "brainflammation" (=chronic inflammation of the brain) show that carnosine enhances the efficacy of basal therapy of these patients.
Aging ➯ carnosine ↓, physical & cognitive performance ↓ - probably not a coincidence!
|Suggested Read: Hydrated or Dumb: Dehydration Affects Brain, Muscle and Other Vital Organs - Plus: 15+ Causes of Dehydration | read more|
So, if we don't know if beta alanine converts, why don't we administer carnosine, directly? That's a good question, but also one that tells me that you are no true "muscle head". Otherwise the information that carnosine is immediately metabolized and won't even make it to your muscle or brain would already have been hardwired into your brain by the marketing machinery of the fitness industry.
If carnosine is metabolized so quickly, isn't the whole study protocol bullocks, then? Yeah...ah I mean, no. It isn't. In fact it's actually quite clever! By administering carnosine in form of a chicken extract ant thus alongside its natural co-factors, of which anserine is probably only one, the scientists made use of the results of a 2011 study by Peters et al. who were able to show that anserine inhibits the previously mentioned degradation of carnosine and could thus solve the "zero bioavailability problem" (Peters. 2011).Now, I would be curious what other co-factors in the 2g of chicken-protein hydrolysate may have had an impact on the study outcome, as well. Unfortunately, the only thing we know about the supplement that was administered daily for 13 weeks, is that it was standardized for 1g of anserine and carnosine at a 2:1 ratio (i.e. 667mg of anserine and 333mg of carnosine).
|Figure 1: Beneficial effects of the chicken protein extract anserine + carnosine supplement (Budzeń. 2014)|
Let's see what else happened in response to this "minimal" intervention
If you take a look at the other differences between the active treatment group, who received 2.5g of the chicken extract that contained 1g of anserine + carnosine at a 2:1 ratio, and the placebo group, you will see that next to the changes, I illustrated in Figure 1,
If the influx of beta alanine into the brain was not controlled it could have toxic effects | learn more
- the resting heart rate of the placebo group measured at the before and after session increased, while it remained unchanged in the active arm of the study, and
- the body mass index of the subjects in the placebo arm of the study remained steady, while the subjects who received the anserine + carnosine supplements lost a significant, but certainly not earth-shattering 0.51kg/m².
- Budzeń, S., et al. "Anserine and carnosine supplementation in the elderly: effects on cognitive functioning and physical capacity." Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics (2014).
- del Favero, Serena, et al. "Beta-alanine (Carnosyn™) supplementation in elderly subjects (60–80 years): effects on muscle carnosine content and physical capacity." Amino acids 43.1 (2012): 49-56.
- Dobrota, Dusan, et al. "Carnosine protects the brain of rats and Mongolian gerbils against ischemic injury: after-stroke-effect." Neurochemical research 30.10 (2005): 1283-1288.
- Guiotto, Andrea, et al. "Carnosine and carnosine-related antioxidants: a review." Current medicinal chemistry 12.20 (2005): 2293-2315.
- Horikoshi, Tetsuro, et al. "Taurine and β-alanine act on both GABA and glycine receptors in Xenopus oocyte injected with mouse brain messenger RNA." Molecular Brain Research 4.2 (1988): 97-105.
- McMorris, Terry, et al. "Creatine supplementation and cognitive performance in elderly individuals." Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition 14.5 (2007): 517-528.
- Ossyra, Jessica, et al. "The influence of nutritional supplementation with epigallocatechin gallate and β-alanine in combination with physical exercise on adult hippocampal neurogenesis and contextual fear conditioning in young adult BALB/cJ mice (629.4)." The FASEB Journal 28.1 Supplement (2014): 629-4.
- Peters, Verena, et al. "Anserine inhibits carnosine degradation but in human serum carnosinase (CN1) is not correlated with histidine dipeptide concentration." Clinica Chimica Acta 412.3 (2011): 263-267.
- Rajanikant, G. K., et al. "Carnosine is neuroprotective against permanent focal cerebral ischemia in mice." Stroke 38.11 (2007): 3023-3031.
- Rawson, Eric S., and Andrew C. Venezia. "Use of creatine in the elderly and evidence for effects on cognitive function in young and old." Amino Acids 40.5 (2011): 1349-1362.
- Sale, Craig, et al. "Carnosine: from exercise performance to health." Amino acids 44.6 (2013): 1477-1491.
- Stvolinsky, Sergey, et al. "Carnosine protects rats under global ischemia." Brain research bulletin 53.4 (2000): 445-448.