Zinc carnosine can be an amazing piece of any gut repair program & it was fun to learn that it does much more too.
Zinc is considered an essential trace element - which means we depend on outside sources for its supply. Zinc is involved in over 300 known proteins in the body, yet as we age, zinc status tends to decline.
While the general requirement is 10-15mg/day of zinc for adults, the elderly may need much more. Zinc deficiency in the elderly may be related to ulcers, dermatitis, hair thinning and hair loss, and taste disorders. Healthy zinc status may also help ward off respiratory infections (1). You may be familiar with zinc lozenges for sore throats and colds - now you know why it can help!
Loss of taste is an especially high concern among aging populations (as well as those undergoing radiation therapy). Zinc carnosine may be useful in improving taste (2).
I would also add that if you’re constantly sick with a cold, cough or flu, or you are a smoker, coffee drinker, or love eating foods that are rough on the gut (sugar, wheat, dairy, corn, processed foods/oils etc), chances are that you could use more than the 10-15mg/day too. If you’re a man, zinc also is involved in the production of healthy male hormones and sperm.
Now zinc carnosine does some extra things that are exciting for anti-aging and wellness, too.
Longevity Genes - Zinc Carnosine and Heat Shock Proteins (HSPs)
Heat shock proteins (HSPs) are groups of proteins that are involved in the body’s ability to respond to inflammation, immune challenges, and stress
Genes that code for HSPs are highly regarded as “longevity” genes - the more active, the better.
There are a few common ways to improve HSP activity:
- Healthy levels of bacterial flora in the large intestine (3).
- Sauna therapy
- Zinc Carnosine...
As a lover of daily sauna sessions (and cold showers), I was familiar with the benefits of boosting Heat Shock Proteins. I was excited to learn that zinc carnosine may directly boost HSPs too.
While Zinc may indirectly help HSP expression through the promotion of mucosal health (a healthy home for flora to bind and grow), zinc carnosine is also an antioxidant and may support HSP expression directly.
Zinc nor L-carnosine have not been shown to support HSP expression by themselves, but the combined chelate form of zinc carnosine does support HSP activity for reasons that are still unclear.
A variety of other health benefits may exist for supplementing with zinc carnosine:
- It survives stomach acid and is able to interact with gastrointestinal ulcerations & inflammatory colitis directly (4; 5; 6)
- A series of studies were discussed in a 2007 article published in Gut - a respected medical journal. The authors commented on zinc carnosine’s ability to help “stabilize” gut mucosa and promote repair (7).
- Well-regarded for its wound-healing (especially mucosal healing) and antioxidant effects (8; 9; 10 )
Zinc Carnosine and Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)
H. pylori overgrowth is a commonly behind the development of gastric ulcers. The H. pylori organism naturally degrades mucosal tissue in order to burrow itself into the stomach lining. Overgrowth of the organism leads to excess degeneration of the stomach lining - and ulcers develop.
A prospective randomized clinical trial published in 2017 showed that when antibiotic treatment for H. pylori infection was combined with zinc carnosine - the eradication rate was improved without added toxicity (11). A smaller trial published in 1999 reflected similar findings (12).
Zinc Carnosine and Exercise-Induced Gut Stress
Intense exercise can also be taxing to the health of the gut lining - even in healthy individuals. Body temperature also rises during exercise. Like it sounds, heat shock proteins can protect you from heat stress too.
Participants in a controlled clinical trial engaged in exercise following up to just two weeks of zinc carnosine supplementation. Those taking zinc carnosine had improved health of the gut lining after exercise when compared to controls. They also had better measures of heat tolerance (13). The findings were reflective of zinc carnosine’s unique ability to heal the gut and boost HSP activity.
Zinc Carnosine and Copper
Zinc competes with copper for absorption in the body. Higher levels of zinc will lead to lower levels of copper. Zinc carnosine may reduce levels of copper in the body which should be taken into consideration when supplementing for any extended length of time (14).
Zinc Carnosine and Gut Repair Programs
Most natural practitioners know zinc carnosine for its use in the healing of gut mucosa. Medical practitioners may know it for stomach ulcers, H. pylori, or for its help healing lesions in cancer patients.
Gut repair is just one piece of a gut restoration program, but it’s a necessary piece that is often trumped by probiotics, antimicrobials and more. Because the gut mucosa feeds and maintains healthy bacteria, I have found that addressing mucosal repair is just as essential to sustaining long-term changes in the gut - particularly if you enjoy coffee like myself.
Also, for the nerds like me, if you carry slow copies of the gene FUT2, you will have trouble maintaining mucosal integrity in the gut which can leave you susceptible to life-long challenges with gut flora and mucosa. So while not everyone needs to be on zinc carnosine this very moment, I personally enjoy adding zinc carnosine to my supplement mix.
Most gut protocols will call for some form of mucosal repair. Zinc carnosine can be supplemented by itself, but it’s also commonly mixed in powders with L-glutamine and other mucosa-supporting herbs. Look for zinc carnosine dosages of 75mg or more when repairing the gut.