Zinc Carnosine: Benefits and Nutrient Interactions

Jessica Pizano, MS, CNS

Zinc Carnosine: Benefits and Nutrient Interactions

What is Zinc Carnosine?

Zinc carnosine is a synthesized form of carnosine originally discovered in Japan and formed by chelating zinc to carnosine in a one-to-one ratio giving it a polymeric structure.1 It is thought that combining zinc with carnosine could possibly provide additional benefits beyond what supplementing zinc might offer. This may stem from the fact that carnosine (a dipeptide comprised of β-alanine and L-histidine) acts in long-living cells found in muscles and nerves.1 It is also thought to support intercellular tight junctions and cell mediation.2 Zinc carnosine is also known as polaprezinc, zinc L-carnosine, and N-β-aminopropionyl-L-histidinato zinc(II). Let's explore Zinc carnosine benefits further.

The Function of Zinc

Within the small intestine, zinc may be used, stored, or sequestered within the enterocyte. It is also transported through the cytosol and subsequently enters the blood via the basolateral membrane to be used in other tissues. Uses of zinc include as a component of metalloenzymes such as carbonic anhydrase, alkaline phosphatase, alcohol dehydrogenase, carboxypeptidases, aminopeptidases, delta aminolevulinic acid dehydratase, superoxide dismutase, phospholipase C, polyglutamate hydrolase, matrix metalloproteinases, polymerases, kinases, nucleases, and transcriptases; has an involvement in gene expression by formation of zinc fingers; stabilizes cell membranes and cytoskeletons; improves immune function; and plays a role in sexual maturation, fertility, and reproduction.3

Nutrient Interactions

Zinc interacts with several other nutrients. Most notoriously, zinc supplementation in high doses may interfere with copper absorption. This is thought to occur by competing with copper by its synthesis of metallothionein which causes copper to be trapped within the enterocyte preventing its absorption.3 A dosage of 1-4 mg per day of copper may be taken concurrently with zinc.4 For those who do not consume sufficient calcium (<300 mg per day), zinc supplements may cause decreased absorption of calcium. This does not appear to be the case, when calcium intake is adequate.3 Very large doses of zinc (above 142 mg per day) can decrease magnesium absorption. Long-term zinc absorption may contribute to iron deficiency as zinc and non-heme iron compete for absorption.4

Intestinal Permeability and Mucosal Integrity

Zinc carnosine is thought to stimulate gut mucosal integrity. A 2007 study found an additional zinc carnosine benefit was that it reduced small intestinal injury showing a 50% reduction in villus shortening at 40 mg/mml (p<0.01).1 This appears to be particularly helpful in the support of intestinal permeability. 


  1. Mahmood, A. F. (2007). Gut, 56, 168-175.
  2. Watari, I. O. (2013). Gastroenterology, 13, 108.
  3. Gropper, S. S. (2013). Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism (6th edition ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
  4. Gaby, A. (2011). Nutritional Medicine. Concord, NH: Fritz Perlberg Publishing.

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