Leaky gut syndrome (aka “intestinal hyperpermeability”) is a condition that occurs when the lining of your intestines becomes compromised, allowing harmful substances to leak into your bloodstream. While it can quickly spiral into other issues when left unchecked, the good news is there are lots of wonderful foods, herbs, and supplements which can help you to address leaky gut holistically – one of them being zinc carnosine. In this article, I’ll share the many potential benefits of zinc carnosine for leaky gut, and why you might want to try it.
Disclaimer: This article was written for informational, educational purposes. Please don’t take this as medical/nutritional advice! Make sure to consult with your treatment team to receive customized advice and protocols tailored to your individual needs.
Table of Contents
What is zinc carnosine?
Zinc carnosine is a relatively newer functional nutrition supplement (aka “nutraceutical”) which combines the mineral zinc with the amino acid l-carnosine.
This dynamic duo (zinc + l-carnosine) offers a variety of health benefits, all pertaining to digestive health.
This makes sense, considering that “regular” zinc is clinically used in wound-healing protocols in hospital settings, and it’s also well known for its roles in immune system regulation… and the amino acid L-carnosine has been shown to have a rejuvenating, antioxidant effect on the cellular level. (1)
Zinc carnosine benefits: the research
In my field of functional nutrition, zinc carnosine is well known and studied for its ability to help repair the intestinal lining among people with leaky gut syndrome, esophagitis, and/or different types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
(Based on all of the following research we’re about to unpack, I believe it’s safe to say zinc carnosine is also the best form of zinc for leaky gut!)
Zinc carnosine has been shown in research to help protect the gut mucosa from inflammation and damage caused by chemical mediators (2) in cases of IBD and other situations impacted by mediator release, like food sensitivity reactions.
- According to Clinics and research in hepatology and gastroenterology (2022), this supplement has also been proven to be safe, effective, and helpful in the treatment of different kinds of gut issues such as peptic ulcers, chemo-induced / radiation-induced esophagitis, ulcerative colitis, and “impaired intestinal permeability” – aka, leaky gut! (2)
A 2020 review in the journal Nutrients added that zinc carnosine is shown to help restore a damaged gastric (stomach) lining on the cellular level. (3)
Antioxidant / anti-inflammatory
Nutrients (2020) concluded that the localized antioxidant, anti-inflammatory actions of zinc carnosine in the gut make this supplement an ideal candidate for:
- Promoting gut healing
- Protecting the gastrointestinal (GI) tract from cellular damage
- Improving GI disorder outcomes
- Benefiting the liver and skin (indirectly)
Helps stabilize gut integrity and promote gut repair
A 2007 study from the journal Gut concluded that zinc carnosine was able to “stabilize small bowel integrity”, stimulate the gut repair process, and even protect the gut lining from chemically-induced damage both in vitro and in vivo. (4)
…Promising, to say the least!
Frequently asked questions
How does zinc carnosine work?
Zinc carnosine is thought to help protect and repair the lining of the intestines by increasing the production of mucus, which helps keep your gut lining safe from damage caused by stress and common environmental exposures (such as pathogenic/parasitic microbes, pesticide residues, heavy metals, plastic residues, etc.).
This supplement also has antioxidant properties, which can help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the gut, at the cellular level.
What’s the recommended zinc carnosine dose?
Unlike traditional zinc supplements, this form of zinc is more targeted and can be taken in higher therapeutic doses for up to 30 days, for most people suffering with a leaky gut.
I was taught in my functional nutrition continuing education courses that the general recommended zinc carnosine dose for someone with a leaky gut is about 75 milligrams twice per day for at least ~8 weeks.
- This provides about 32 milligrams of zinc, which is a little over 100% of the daily value.
(Note: If you have an underlying zinc deficiency, you may need more than this!)
How do I know if I’m zinc deficient?
Check your serum zinc level
This is tricky, because in conventional medicine, a zinc level above 60-something is considered “normal”.
- Conventional lab reference ranges are actually determined based on the average of the last 95% of patients at that lab. (5)
According to my mentors over the years, a serum (blood) zinc level below 100 is generally considered to be subclinically low, or “sub-optimal” by functional nutrition standards.
- This makes sense because in my nutrition clinic, I’ve seen lots of people with zinc levels above 60 and below 100 experience subclinical symptoms of zinc deficiency, such as hair loss, compromised immune function, ridged nails, and diminished sense of taste.
Takeaway: If your zinc level is below 100, you may benefit from taking zinc carnosine – but you should also work with a functional medicine practitioner to figure out why it’s suboptimal or low. (Vegan/vegetarian diets, low stomach acid, iron supplements, gut malabsorption, and other factors could contribute to this!)
Look for tell-tale symptoms
Loss of taste is the most common sign of zinc deficiency I see in my functional nutrition clinic. You may also notice stunted growth in hair/nails, ridged nails, low libido, rough skin, and/or compromised immunity. (6)
Takeaway: If you’re experiencing the above symptoms, you should consider getting your serum zinc level tested.
Screen for a predisposition
Certain groups of people are more likely to have a zinc deficiency, such as those with:
- Restricted diets (vegan/vegetarian)
- Autoimmune disorders
- Acute illness
- Wounds or burns
- Fertility issues
- Low libido
- Low stomach acid
- Taking proton pump inhibitors (PPI’s)
- Iron supplementation
- Impaired digestion/absorption
Takeaway: You may need more zinc (and should check your serum zinc) if you’re dealing with any of the above issues.
Can I take this alongside a multivitamin?
Over-supplementing with zinc can lead to other nutritional deficiencies, so I would not recommend taking this supplement alongside a multivitamin unless it was recommended by a qualified healthcare provider.
Do I take this with food?
While taking regular zinc supplements with food seems to anecdotally help with nausea, I’ve noticed that zinc carnosine seems to work better when taken on an empty stomach – so it can go right to the gut lining.
How long should you take zinc carnosine for leaky gut repair?
The minimum amount of time recommended for taking a zinc carnosine supplement for leaky gut is about 8 weeks, but in some cases, you may need to take it for longer.
(Taking this supplement long-term or ongoing isn’t inherently bad, but it isn’t usually necessary and could potentially interfere with your ability to take/absorb other minerals.)
You should also keep in mind, if you haven’t yet addressed the other dimensions of gut repair (as outlined in the 5R protocol and in my 6-part framework for healing your gut), any zinc carnosine benefits you experience will be fleeting – since leaky gut repair calls for a holistic and multidimensional framework.
How do I know if zinc carnosine is safe for me to take? (Contraindications)
You should avoid this supplement if you’re:
- Iron deficient
- Copper deficient
Otherwise, if you’re navigating leaky gut syndrome, a high quality, third party-tested version of zinc carnosine at the recommended dose of 75 milligrams 1 to 2x daily is most likely safe and potentially beneficial for you.
If you’re still unsure, you can and should consult your doctor or a functional dietitian nutritionist!
What’s the best zinc carnosine supplement?
If you’re considering taking a zinc carnosine supplement on your gut repair journey, it’s important to choose a high-quality product that will be effective and safe.
Below are some tips for choosing the best zinc carnosine supplement…
Look for a reputable brand
Choose a supplement from a brand that has a good reputation for quality and transparency. Look for brands that use third-party testing to verify the potency and purity of their products.
Check the dosage
Make sure the supplement provides an appropriate dosage of zinc carnosine for your needs. Dosages can vary from product to product, so check the label carefully.
Choose a form that suits your needs
Zinc carnosine supplements come in different forms, including capsules, chewable tablets, and powders. Choose the form that is most convenient for you and that you’re most comfortable taking. (I find capsules and tablets to be more convenient and user-friendly!)
Consider additional ingredients
Some zinc carnosine supplements may contain additional ingredients that can further support gut health, such as probiotics or digestive enzymes.
Other variations of this supplement may contain fillers or preservatives which could disrupt the microbes in your gut.
It’s also important to avoid any ingredients that could induce an allergic reaction or other form of mediator release (i.e. a food or chemical sensitivity reaction).
Consider whether the additional ingredients are safe and beneficial for your specific needs.
Look for reviews from other users to see how the supplement has worked for them. Keep in mind that everyone’s experience may be different, but reading reviews can give you an idea of the supplement’s effectiveness and any potential side effects.
Don’t order it on Amazon
Unforunately, it turns ut a lot of third-party resellers on Amazon are diluting and adulterating supplement products with potentially unsafe ingredients. (Please don’t purchase herbs or supplements from third-party resellers on Amazon!)
My favorite zinc carnosine supplements
Below are a few of my 3 favorite brands of zinc carnosine for leaky gut. I choose these brands for myself and for my clients.
These supplements conveniently provide the most frequently recommended dose of 75 milligrams, they’re non-GMO, hypoallergenic (free of common allergens), and the supplement companies are all third-party tested:
(If you’d like 15% off any of the above supplements plus a lifetime discount of 15% off all other supplements in my quality-controlled online dispensary, you can set up a private FullScript account!)
So much to say about leaky gut! To learn more about how you can restore gut health and repair leaky gut holistically, make sure to check out the following articles:
- 37 Herbs for Leaky Gut & Digestive Health
- Should You Take Colostrum for Leaky Gut?
- The Low-Down on L-Glutamine for Leaky Gut Repair
- Bone Broth for Leaky Gut: Holistic Dietitian Advice
- Gut-Healing Chicken Soup
- Collagen for Leaky Gut – Does It Work?
- Turmeric for IBS & Leaky Gut – Does It Work?
If you’re struggling with leaky gut syndrome and/or other digestive issues, zinc carnosine may be worth considering.
About 75 milligrams per day of a high quality zinc carnosine supplement can go a long way in terms of the benefits for leaky gut repair, on the cellular level. You’ll want to take this for at least a few months, alongside other types of interventions for gut repair as needed.
Of course, it’s always best to talk to your doctor before starting any new supplements – specially if you have any underlying health conditions, are pregnant/nursing, or are taking other medications. But with its proven track record of improving gut health and reducing inflammation, zinc carnosine is definitely worth looking into!
Need more help?
If you’re on a gut-healing journey, I see you and I understand… because I’ve been there (as a former IBS & leaky gut sufferer, in remission since 2014!).
And I know you’re going to need more than zinc carnosine to do things like repair a leaky gut – so you can spend your time and energy focusing on bigger goals and dreams. 😉
Join my private Facebook group, Whole-istic Living for Better Gut Health. Here, you can share wins and challenges, ask questions, and connect with like-minded folks navigating leaky gut via a holistic approach!