Study: Carnosine Shatters the Hayflick Limit

by Nils Osmar. Updated Jan. 27, 2023.  Medical Disclaimer

Our cells can (supposedly) only divide for a certain number of times, after which they’re done, and we die. This limit is referred to as the Hayflick Limit. It’s one of the reasons many researchers maintain that we’ll never be able to live much past 120.

According to this summary, “The Hayflick Limit is a concept that helps to explain the mechanisms behind cellular aging. The concept states that a normal human cell can only replicate and divide forty to sixty times before it cannot divide anymore, and will break down by programmed cell death or apoptosis.” See article: The Hayflick Limit

Not locked in stone

For all of its supposed sacredness, the Hayflick limit is actually malleable. Various things have been found to be able to alter it. One is the presence in our cells of a compound called carnosine, which the body makes from the amino acids beta-alanine and histidine. (Carnosine can also be purchased as a supplement, pre-formed.)

From a recent study:

Here, effect of carnosine in cell cultures was studied. It has been found that apart from the known action–an increase of the Hayflick limit and morphological rejuvenation–carnosine stimulates cell division in colony-forming assays and in the course of transition of cells to the quiescent state.

See study: Stimulation of proliferation by carnosine: cellular and transcriptome approaches

According to this summary,

“In 1999, Australian researchers confirmed that Carnosine increases the longevity of human fibroblast cells in the laboratory. Carnosine extended the Hayflick limit (the maximum number of times a cell can divide) from 50 to up to an additional 10 times. It has also been shown that animals with higher levels of Carnosine appear to live longer. Although research is still taking place in this area, Carnosine may become a common supplement for longevity.

Caveats and dosage

There’s no clearly established “dosage for longevity”, and no proof that taking carnosine will extend the human lifespan. (At present it’s impossible to prove that any supplement will accomplish that, as it would take more than typical human lifespan to run the studies, then another lifespan to confirm them.)

Till more research is done, many people who take carnosine in the hopes of a longevity boost have settled into taking 500 mg twice a day. But again, this dose is based on speculation.

What I’m doing

I have not been taking carnosine, mostly because I’m already taking so many other supplements (it’s hard to fit more in). But I plan to add it soon.

In the meantime, I’m getting some from foods such as turkey, chicken, and beef, some of the main dietary sources. (Pork is also a primary source.) For people who avoid animal-based foods, or want additional carnosine, it’s widely available as a supplement.

I do take beta-alanine, one of carnosine’s precurors.

Dr. Greg Fahy weighs in

  • In this interview, Dr. Greg Fahy reveals that this phenomenon is one of the reasons he takes carnosine.
  • This is purely anecdotal, but I suspect that the carnosine may be is one factor in why Fahy looks, sounds and comes across as decades younger than his actual years. However, he also takes several other supplements. (See my notes on his protocol below.)
  • He was 71 at the time this video was made; I would have guessed his age as being, at the oldest, in his late fifties.

Dr. Fahy’s protocol (from the video)

  1. He takes “a ton of supplements” in the morning, and eats “some food” along with them so they’ll be well absorbed (and won’t “burn a hole in his stomach”) (See list below)
  2. He skips lunch.
  3. He has dinner.
  4. He was vegetarian for a while but isn’t anymore. He eats some red meat but not a lot.
  5. He eats chicken and fish “a lot”, in addition to a basically Mediterranean diet. (“I like fish, I like salmon… oily fish are all good for you.”)
  6. He’s doing the TRIIM trial protocol (and has done it several times). The key elements are injections of human growth hormone, plus oral metformin, vitamin D, DHEA and zinc.
  7. He takes NAD boosters (his choice is NR, i.e., nicotinamide riboside). Other key supplements include carnosine and fish oil. He also takes selenium to help prevent cancer
  8. He speaks with interest of a book called The Carnivore Code, but is not a carnivore himself

Dr. Fahy’s supplements:

  • NR (a NAD+ precursor)
  • Centrophenoxine
  • Deprenyl
  • CoQ10
  • Carnosine
  • selenium occasionally
  • fish oil
  • Carnosine 
  • “Life Extension Mix” (see below)

About Life Extension Mix

  • Fahy remarked in a recent video, without elaborating, that the takes a product called “Life Extension Mix.” 
  • I’m assuming he’s referring to this product sold on the Lifeextension.com website.
  • Assuming this is the product he’s talking about, the ingredients are:
Vitamin A (as beta-carotene, acetate) (5,000 IU)1500 mcgˆ
Vitamin C (as calcium ascorbate, ascorbic acid, ascorbyl palmitate, magnesium ascorbate, niacinamide ascorbate, acerola extract)970 mg
Vitamin D3 (as cholecalciferol) (2,000 IU)50 mcg
Vitamin E (as D-alpha tocopheryl succinate, D-alpha tocopherol)67 mg
Thiamine (vitamin B1) (as thiamine HCl)125 mg
Riboflavin (vitamin B2) (as riboflavin, riboflavin 5’-phosphate)50 mg
Niacin (as 61% niacinamide, 38% niacin, 1% niacinamide ascorbate)190 mg•
Vitamin B6 [as pyridoxal 5’-phosphate (100 mg), pyridoxine HCI (5 mg)]105 mg
Folate (as L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate calcium salt)680 mcg°
Vitamin B12 (as methylcobalamin)600 mcg
Biotin3000 mcg
Pantothenic acid (as D-calcium pantothenate with 5 mg pantethine)600 mg
Calcium (as Ca ascorbate, D-calcium pantothenate, Ca D-glucarate, dicalcium phosphate)140 mg
Iodine (as potassium iodide)150 mcg
Magnesium (as magnesium oxide, citrate, arginate, glycinate, taurinate, ascorbate)420 mg
Zinc (as zinc citrate, L-OptiZinc®3 zinc mono-L-methionine sulfate)35 mg
Selenium [as sodium selenite, SelenoExcell®4 high selenium yeast, Se-methyl L-selenocysteine]200 mcg
Copper [as copper bisglycinate chelate]1 mg
Manganese (as manganese citrate, gluconate)1 mg
Chromium [as Crominex®5 3+ chromium stabilized with Capros® amla extract (fruit), PrimaVie® Shilajit]500 mcg
Molybdenum (as molybdenum amino acid chelate)125 mcg
Potassium (as potassium citrate)35 mg
Broccoli concentrate blend [broccoli powder, extract (sprout , floret, seed) (providing glucosinolates, sulforaphane]525 mg
N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC)600 mg
Decaffeinated green tea extract (leaf) [std. to 45% epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)]325 mg
Acerola extract 4:1 (berry)300 mg
Inositol250 mg
Bitter orange citrus bioflavonoids (peel, fruit) [std. to 50% hesperidin]200 mg
Fruit/berry proprietary blend [European elder, blackberry, blueberry, sweet cherry, cranberry, plum, persimmon (Diospyros kaki) powders]200 mg
Taurine200 mg
Wild blueberry anthocyanin extract (fruit)150 mg
Sensoril®11 Ashwagandha extract (root, leaf) [std. to 32% oligosaccharides, 10% glycoside conjugates]125 mg
Silymarin [from milk thistle extract (seed)]100 mg
Trimethylglycine (TMG) (as betaine anhydrous)100 mg
CherryPure®1 sour cherry (tart cherry) proanthocyanidin extract (skin)85 mg
POMELLA®9 pomegranate extract (fruit) [std. to 30% punicalagins]85 mg
Natural mixed tocopherols (providing gamma, delta, alpha, beta tocopherols)60 mg
MirtoSelect®10 bilberry extract (fruit)30 mg
BioVin®7 grape proanthocyanidin extract (whole grape)25 mg
Leucoselect®6 grape seed proanthocyanidin extract25 mg
Bio-Quercetin phytosome (providing 5 mg quercetin [from Japanese sophora concentrate (flower bud)], phosphatidylcholine complex [from sunflower]) 15 mg 
Bromelain [from pineapple (stem)] (2400 gelatin digestive units/gram)15 mg
Lutein [from marigold extract (flower)] (providing 465 mcg trans-zeaxanthin)15 mg
Olive extract (fruit) (providing polyphenols, hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol, oleuropein)12.5 mg
Sesame seed lignan extract10 mg
Luteolin [from Japanese sophora (flower buds)]8 mg
Apigenin5 mg
Boron (as boron amino acid chelate)3 mg
Lycopene [from LycoBeads®8 natural tomato extract (fruit)]3 mg
Delphinidins [from Delphinol®2 maqui berry (Aristotelia chilensis) extract (fruit)]2 mg
Cyanidin-3-glucoside (C3G) [from black currant extract (fruit)]1.25 mg
Other ingredients: gelatin (capsule), maltodextrin, silica, microcrystalline cellulose, vegetable stearate, starch.

Quite a list! But remember that those in the box above can all be found in Life Extension Mix.

What I’m doing to increase hGH

  • Fahy’s protocol sounds good to me, and is similar in many respects to mine, with one exception: I’m taking precursor supplements to increase hGH instead of the injections, And I take most of the ingredients in “Life Extension Mix” as separate supplements. But when I run out, I may just order LEM.
  • I try to get to bed by 10 or 11 at the latest, to optimize my circadian production of hGH.
  • I also do intermittent fasting because of numerous studies showing that fasting leads to a major increase in HGH levels. I sometimes take metformin, but other times take berberine or benfotiamine, supplements which, like metformin, activate AMPK and lower blood glucose. I’m currently taking 50 mg of DHEA per day. I’m working on an updated list of my supplements which I’ll be posting on this website soon.
  • I have zero concerns about any negative impact of raising hGH levels (the way I’m doing it). I’m not trying to jack them up to an artificial “high”, just to restore them to the levels found in young adults.

hGH boosting supplements

Supplements I’m currently taking to boost hGH levels include:

  1. Creatine, I take 4 grams daily. According to this study, “In a comparative cross-sectional study, 6 healthy male subjects ingested in resting conditions a single dose of 20 g creatine (Cr-test) vs a control (c-test)…. for the majority of subjects the maximum GH concentration occurred between 2 hrs and 6 hrs after the acute Cr ingestion.” (I take creatine for a variety of reasons; the possible increase in hGH is one of them. However, I don’t take the large triggering dose used in the study.)
  2. Arginine and Lysine. I take 1200 mg of each. (Their combination, in this dose, raises hGH more than either product taken alone. (See study). (Some people substitute L. citrulline for arginine.) I actually take some additional arginine as a component of AAKG (a salt of arginine and alpha ketoglutarate) because AKG has also been found to raise hGH levels. See study
  3. Zinc and copperSee study.
  4. Vitamin D3 and K2See study.
  5. Beta Alanine. I take it before workouts. From a Healthline article: “In one study, taking 4.8 grams of beta-alanine before a workout increased the number of repetitions performed by 22%. It also doubled peak power and boosted HGH levels compared with the non-supplement group….”
  6. DHEA. I take DHEA both as a testosterone booster and hGH booster. In one experiment in rats, it’s been shown to almost double hGH levels. I take 50-75 mg/day. See study. Caution: some studies suggest a correlation between DHEA consumption and an increase in cancer.
  7. Note: I also take many other supplements.

Not medical advice

This article is not intended as, and should not be taken as, medical advice. I’m not advising that people eat any particular diet or take any particular supplements, just reporting on what I’m doing. All supplements can have side effects; I would encourage people to research both possible benefits and side effects before starting on any supplementation regimen.  See full Medical Disclaimer

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