What is Carnosine, And How Does It Work?

Key Takeaways

Carnosine is a naturally occurring dipeptide composed of alanine and histidine that offers multiple health benefits:

  • Exercise Enhancement: Reduces fatigue and muscle soreness by buffering lactic acid buildup during workouts.
  • Diabetes Management: Protects against glycation, helping to mitigate complications such as kidney and nerve damage.
  • Neuroprotection: Shows promise in slowing Alzheimer's disease progression by reducing amyloid-beta build-up and improving cognitive functions.

Carnosine supplements are particularly beneficial for those who may not get enough from their diet, including vegetarians and vegans.

Carnosine supplements have become popular largely due to the increase in what is generally grouped under the heading of metabolic syndrome. People take carnosine to prevent problems associated with obesity, for example. As a natural nutrition supplement, carnosine seems to be effective. Some of the natural properties of carnosine do appear to prevent features of metabolic syndrome such as high blood sugar and obesity. 

One of the chief reasons people take carnosine supplements is as an exercise and training supplement. Carnosine appears to reduce the fatigue and soreness that comes with serious workouts and training. This article will explore how carnosine works as an exercise supplement, and we will also explore some of the medical benefits of carnosine. 

As a result of both its rising popularity and anecdotal evidence that carnosine works, scientific research has emerged that may back up these claims. Like all nutritional and dietary supplements, there is information you should consider regarding carnosine. What exactly is carnosine, how does it work, and how much should you take? These are crucial questions before taking a supplement. 

This article will explore the science behind carnosine. We take a look at its chemistry and how it works in the body. We will also explore how you may benefit from taking a carnosine supplement. 


What Is Carnosine?

Carnosine is formed by the chemical combination of two amino acids: alanine and histidine. These two amino acids create a site on which glucose and other sugars like fructose can be used to form a complete protein. Essentially, carnosine is a protein building block. It is produced naturally in the body where it is found in muscles when they are working. It is also commonly found in the brain, heart, and many other parts of the body. 

In the body, carnosine works as an antioxidant. It protects cells from damage by free radicals which can tear down cells. It appears to be especially useful for people with diabetes because it protects against a condition called glycation. This contributes to diabetes-related problems like kidney and nerve damage. 

Carnosine supplements are often sold as beta-alanine. This is a non-essential amino acid (meaning your body produces this amino acid). When beta-alanine is introduced to your metabolism it works with another amino acid called histidine to produce carnosine. 

Carnosine is then stored in skeletal muscle and can reduce the buildup of lactic acid in muscles during exercise. For this reason, carnosine, in the form of beta-alanine, is sold as an exercise and workout supplement. 

Red meat, chicken, and some fish contain healthy levels of carnosine. Vegetarians and vegans often do not get enough carnosine in their diets. 


Carnosine Benefits

Since carnosine is already known to provide benefits to diabetics, it logically follows that carnosine may be beneficial for other diseases and problems grouped under metabolic syndrome. Blood sugar problems, obesity, and other conditions may be helped by taking carnosine. Some of the primary benefits of carnosine include:


Exercise Supplementation

Carnosine helps with exercise since it reduces the soreness and fatigue that comes with intense training. There are two chemicals that work together to produce carnosine in muscles, and supplements help to boost your carnosine levels. 

At a baseline level, our muscles contain high levels of histidine, an amino acid, and low levels of beta-alanine. This limits the production of carnosine which helps reduce lactic acid in the muscles. Supplementing with beta-alanine can boost carnosine levels by as much as 80 percent. This is how it carnosine works when we exercise:

  • Glucose gets broken down in a process called glycolysis producing fuels for exertion. 
  • Lactate is then produced as glucose breaks down into lactic acid. 
  • Muscles become acidic from the increase in lactic acid. 
  • Fatigue begins with muscle acidity. 
  • Carnosine acts as a buffer against the buildup of lactic acid, thus alleviating fatigue and soreness.
  • With the carnosine buffer, you are less likely to wear out, and your recovery from exercise and training gets shorter. This gets you back to training faster and easier. 

Note: Some people confuse carnosine with carnitine. This is also derived from an amino acid and concentrated in muscle tissue. Our bodies normally make sufficient quantities of carnitine. However, synthetic carnitine is available as a dietary supplement. People take it for weight loss, improved performance during exercise, heart health, and to enhance brain function.



One of the main benefits of carnosine is for people with diabetes. Carnosine protects against damage from glycation, the irreversible binding of glucose with proteins. This can lead to several diabetes-related complications like kidney and nerve damage. It also leads to diabetes mellitus which is a metabolic disorder leading to numerous problems affecting much of the body. 

Although researchers say that carnosine needs more study, the early evidence shows that carnosine slows the progression of diabetes and the damaging effects of glycation. In one clinical study, test participants were given 2 mg of carnosine against a control group who were given a placebo. Those who took the carnosine supplement demonstrated much higher insulin resistance and lower blood sugar levels over those who took the placebo. 

These studies show that carnosine works as a non-pharmaceutical treatment for diabetes and diabetes-related symptoms. 


Alzheimer’s Disease

Some important studies have demonstrated that carnosine can reduce the buildup of a substance called amyloid-beta. This is the protein compound that forms brain plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease. A 2013 study showed that an oral carnosine supplement reduced cognitive decline in test animals by inhibiting the buildup of amyloid-beta.    

More recently, a study involving patients with Alzheimer’s disease were given a supplement containing carnosine. Researchers found that these patients showed improved blood flow to the brain. The test subjects also showed improved memory function after taking the carnosine supplement. This study was followed by parallel research on test animals that showed similar results. 

All of this research has led doctors to conclude that carnosine is an effective treatment, in conjunction with other methods for slowing the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease. 



While studies on carnosine as a treatment for cancer are in the early stages, there are already promising results. Studies on cell cultures suggest that carnosine may fight cancer. In several studies, carnosine inhibited or stopped the growth of cancer cells in the liver, colon, and ovarian cells. One theory is that cells that tend to develop into cancerous cells contain high levels of carnosinase and enzyme that carnosine appears to inhibit. 



Carnosine helps combat obesity for many of the same reasons it works as a treatment for diabetes-related illnesses. Carnosine inhibits the permanent binding of glucose and other sugars to protein thereby creating a long-term pattern of storing fat and lips rather than building muscle protein. 

One study shows that carnosine supplements were effective in the prevention of trapping fats within muscle protein cells. This same study showed that carnosine inhibited the buildup of lipids which contribute to the problem of obesity. 



Carnosine as a possible treatment for autism requires more thorough research, but one clinical study showed compelling results. In a study in which children with autistic spectrum disorder were given a carnosine supplement versus a control group who were given a placebo, the group who received carnosine showed significant improvement. The children given the carnosine supplement demonstrated improved behavior and communication skills. 

Researchers believe carnosine stimulated nervous functioning pathways that alleviate symptoms of autistic spectrum disorder. These nervous system pathways are ordinarily inhibited in autistic children. 

Other potential benefits of taking a carnosine supplement include improved immune system functions, enhanced mood, improved memory, improved eyesight, and carnosine may fight the development of wrinkles. 


Risks and Side Effects

The fact is little is known about the adverse effects of taking carnosine. More research is required. Some people report that carnosine supplements disrupt sleep. 

As with any dietary or nutritional supplement, you should use caution when taking carnosine if you are pregnant or nursing. Doctors warn against giving carnosine supplements to children since little is known about the effects of carnosine on developing brains and physiology. 


Carnosine Supplement Dosage

Since all of the research on the benefits of carnosine remains in the preliminary stages, there is no firm agreement on the correct dosage of carnosine supplements. Among those who advocate for the use and benefits of carnosine, the recommended dose is between 50 and 150 milligrams per day. Most proponents simply say to take about 1000 mg per day.

Doctors say that simply eating a diet that includes things like lean red meat and some fish that contain carnosine is enough to give you all the carnosine you need. For example, a three-ounce portion of beef contains about 300 mg of carnosine. However, vegetarians and vegans may require a carnosine supplement since it is not found in plant-based sources.  

Make sure you choose a carnosine supplement that is from a reputable manufacturer. Read labels to make certain the product has been tested. Reliable testing organizations include U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), NSF International, or ConsumerLab.


Where to Find and How to Use It

Carnosine supplements are available wherever you purchase nutrition and dietary supplements. It is often found under the name of beta-alanine since this chemical functions in the body to produce carnosine. 

NF Sports offers a tested and reliable beta-alanine supplement that will provide the benefits detailed in the article. NF Sports Beta-Alanine works as an ideal muscle development supplement as well as a sound source of carnosine.  


Wrapping Things Up

Carnosine supplements are already widely used by people who exercise and workout regularly. It works well to help reduce the fatigue and soreness that comes with exercise and training. As it runs out, carnosine offers many other benefits as well. 

Carnosine may offer some real and lasting benefits for people who suffer from diabetes and some of the complications associated with obesity. Much of the research on carnosine shows that it can reduce or eliminate symptoms and complications like high blood sugar. Since carnosine naturally binds with glucose and other sugars, it interrupts the problematic metabolic patterns that diabetes tends to initiate.   

Carnosine also shows promise as a therapeutic supplement for serious conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and an autistic spectrum disorder. Early research shows that carnosine can slow memory loss in Alzheimer’s patients and facilitate cognitive function in children with autism. 

There is still research that needs to be done on the power of carnosine as an effective medical treatment. But it does seem to be effective for many problems. Since carnosine seems to have no real side effects, or at least, no dangerous side effects, it appears that it is a safe nutritional and dietary supplement.   

As with all supplements, use caution when taking carnosine. See how you react in small doses before taking the recommended dose of 1000 mg per day.


Health and Safety Notice for Our Readers

At NF Sports, we're dedicated to supporting your fitness journey with high-quality, natural supplements made in an FDA-registered facility. Our content and product recommendations are for informational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice.


Consult Your Doctor: Before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if you have health concerns or conditions, consult with a healthcare professional to ensure it's safe and right for you.


FDA Disclaimer: Our products are designed to support your wellness journey but have not been evaluated by the FDA to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.



What is carnosine?

Carnosine is a building block for proteins that are formed by two amino acids: alanine and histidine. When this metabolic reaction occurs, carnosine works with your natural metabolism to help with the breakdown of sugars. 


What does carnosine do?

It works to provide a site on which glucose and other sugars can bind. This prevents these sugars from permanently binding onto proteins which can lead to a variety of health problems. 


What are the benefits of carnosine?

The most well-researched benefits of carnosine are for people suffering from diabetes and obesity. Carnosine blocks some of the metabolic processes that lead to complications associated with diabetes and obesity. Carnosine has also been shown to help people with Alzheimer's disease, cancer, and an autistic spectrum disorder. 


What is the recommended dosage of carnosine?

While there is no medically determined dose of carnosine, most proponents and researchers recommend taking 1000 mg per day.


Are there risks or side effects for carnosine?

There are no serious side effects of taking carnosine supplements. Some people have reported sleeping problems while taking carnosine, but there have been no observed serious side effects. 


What is the best carnosine supplement?

NF Sports Beta-Alanine is a tested and effective supplement that works to synthesize carnosine in the body. 



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