Danielle Huntsman, MS, CNS, LDN
A Closer Look at Zinc-Carnosine
The use of zinc-carnosine has been clinically studied for over 20 years, within its origin dating back to Japan. Zinc-carnosine is a combination of elemental zinc and the dipeptide, L-carnosine, together forming a polymetric structure. The combination of L-carnosine and zinc has been well studied in both controlled human trials and animal studies. The multidimensional approach of zinc-carnosine makes it a great choice in digestive health.* Let's explore the benefits of zinc-carnosine on gastrointestinal health more closely.*
The trace mineral zinc is essential for the growth and metabolism of cells, supporting DNA replication, transcription to RNA as well as protein synthesis.*1 Inadequate dietary intake of foods rich in zinc (oysters and organ meats are the highest) or ingesting foods which may inhibit the absorption (phytates, oxalates, and some polyphenols) can contribute to low zinc levels. Drug-induced nutrients depletions may also be of concern.
The use of zinc-carnosine does not interfere with normal digestive processes, stomach acid, or nutrient absorption.* Zinc by itself is thought to liberate from food quickly within the stomach, with the primary site of absorption being the proximal small intestine. Zinc is dissociated at a slower rate when bonded to the dipeptide L-carnosine, allowing a more localized concentration within the stomach.2 In fact, PepZinGI, a chelated zinc-carnosine, was shown to localize to the stomach twice as long as taking zinc and L-carnosine separately, verified through radioisotope identification.3
Zinc-carnosine and epithelial barrier function*
The use of zinc-carnosine has a place in many different protocols due to its benefits in maintaining a healthy mucosal integrity and protective effect on the epithelial barrier.* Zinc as a single intervention has been shown to support intestinal barrier function.*4 The use of zinc-carnosine supports small intestinal mucosal integrity.* A 2007 trial evaluated zinc-carnosine in both animal and humans. In the animal portion of the study, a 50% reduction in villus shortening after a trial use of zinc-carnosine was reported.*5 The human portion of the study was a double-blind randomized controlled crossover trial. Healthy volunteers took 37.5 mg twice daily or placebo; the results showed zinc carnosine to have a protective effect within the small intestine. Another study of interest looked at the benefit of zinc-carnosine and post-exercise recovery*, a topic of importance for athletes. The results of the 14 day, double-blind, placebo-controlled study showed the use of zinc-carnosine to be beneficial in supporting epithelial resistance post exercise.*6 It is helpful to note that endurance exercise is a common model to measure intestinal permeability.
A more recent study, completed in 2017, evaluated the efficacy and usage of zinc-carnosine when combined with other therapies for participants experiencing occasional gastrointestinal discomfort.*7 The dose of 75 mg, taken twice daily showed a significant improvement in healthy bacteria as well as a reduction in occasional discomfort.* Those receiving therapy plus zinc carnosine showed a much larger improvement in symptoms when compared to just using other therapy alone, with no added side effects.*
Dosing Zinc Carnosine
Practitioners typically recommend starting at the dose used in research; for zinc carnosine, the dose ranged from 37.5 mg (twice daily) up to 150 mg taken twice daily. While the effects have been shown in as little as 2 weeks, positive outcomes are consistent between a dose of 75 mg and 150 mg, taken twice daily for 8 weeks. A 8-week, multi-center, double-blind dose-finding study showed a 75.4% improvement in digestive symptoms for the 50 mg twice daily, 71.6% for the 75 twice daily group and 78.5% improvement in those receiving 100 mg twice daily.*8
It is clear that the effects of zinc are enhanced in certain circumstances when combined with the amino acid, L-carnosine, allowing it to withstand and remain localized within the stomach for an extended period.* There have been over 20 published studies on zinc-carnosine alone and even more on the relationship between zinc and gastrointestinal health.* The stabilizing benefits of zinc-carnosine, along with its protective mechanisms make it a great option for gastrointestinal health.*
- Stefanidou M, Maravelias C, Dona A, Spiliopoulou C. Zinc: a multipurpose trace element. Arch Toxicol. 2006;80:1–9.
- Matsukura T, Tanaka H. Applicability of zinc complex of L-carnosine for medical use. Biochemistry (Mosc). 2000 Jul;65(7);817-23.
- Furuta S, Toyama S, Miwa M, et al. Residence time of polaprezinc (zinc L-carnosine complex) in the rat stomach and adhesiveness to ulcerous sites. Jpn J Pharmacol. 1995 Apr;67(4);271-8.
- Sturniolo GC, Fries W, Mazzon E, Di Leo V, Barollo M, D'inca R. Effect of zinc supplementation on intestinal permeability in experimental colitis. J Lab Clin Med. 2002. 139: 311–5.
- Mahmood, A. F. Zinc Carnosine, a health food supplement that stabilises small bowel integrity and stimulates gut repair processes. Gut. 2002.56, 168-175.
- Davison G, Marchbank T, March DS, Thatcher R, Playford RJ. Zinc carnosine works with bovine colostrum in truncating heavy exercise-induced increase in gut permeability in healthy volunteers. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Aug;104(2):526-36.
- Tan B, Luo H-Q, Xu H, et al. Polaprezinc combined with clarithromycin-based triple therapy for Helicobacter pylori-associated gastritis: A prospective, multicenter, randomized clinical trial. Green J, ed. PLoS ONE. 2017;12(4):e0175625. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0175625.
- Miyoshi A, Matsuo H, Miwa T, Nakazima M. Jpn Pharmacol Ther. 1992a;20(1);181-97.
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