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Zinc Carnosine for Leaky Gut: Is it Effective?

Zinc carnosine for leaky gut-Wondering if it works to improve gut health?

What is a leaky gut?

You may have heard of zinc for wound healing and immune health, carnosine for muscle and cognition, however, are you familiar with the supplement zinc carnosine? 

Research has shown zinc carnosine benefits leaky gut, H. Pylori, gastric ulcers, intestinal inflammation, and more.

In this article, we will discuss leaky gut and how zinc carnosine can lessen symptoms and support gut health.

This information is for educational purposes only. As with any medical advice, always check with your doctor or healthcare professional for personal and age-appropriate recommendations.

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What is Leaky Gut?

The gut lining acts as a barrier between your digestive system and your bloodstream.

Leaky gut (also called intestinal permeability) is when the intestinal barrier in our gut is damaged, the tight junctions in the gut loosen, and this allows the transmission of harmful toxins, bad bacteria, and undigested food to leak into the tissues and bloodstream. 

A compromised gut barrier influences inflammation in the intestinal tract and may contribute to metabolic, immune, and aging disorders (1). Leaky gut has been associated with many chronic diseases like autoimmune diseases (celiac, thyroid, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis), inflammatory bowel diseases, and diabetes.

Leaky Gut

Causes of Leaky Gut

Poor nutrition, an unhealthy lifestyle, and stress can reduce beneficial bacteria in the gut and allow the tight junctions to loosen.

Some potential causes of leaky gut include (2)(3):

  • Gut infections
  • SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth)
  • Medications (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory and antibiotics)
  • Food sensitivities or intolerances
  • High fat, processed foods
  • Food additives
  • Pregnancy 
  • Alcohol
  • Stress
  • Endurance exercise

Symptoms of Leaky Gut

When these unwanted substances like bad bacteria, infections, toxins, and food antigens pass into the bloodstream, symptoms may occur.

Some of the symptoms of leaky gut are:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Mood imbalances
  • Skin problems (acne, rosacea, eczema)

Functional Medicine Approach to Leaky Gut

The 5R Protocol is utilized in Functional Medicine to restore the gut.

  • Remove
  • Replace
  • Reinoculate
  • Repair
  • Rebalance

Zinc carnosine is one of the supplements in the repair stage of the 5R Protocol. Other gut healing supplements include colostrum and sulforaphane.

5R Protocol to Restore Gut Health

Treatments for leaky gut include removing food sensitivities, adding prebiotics, probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, amino acids, and minerals including zinc carnosine

How Zinc Carnosine Works

Zinc carnosine is a compound of the mineral zinc and amino acid L-carnosine which has been studied extensively for ulcers as well as gastrointestinal disorders. Other names for zinc carnosine include zinc-l-carnosine, PepZin GI™, Polaprezinc, Z-103, L-CAZ , and N(3 aminopropionyl)-L-histidine (4).

Zinc Carnosine for Leaky Gut


Zinc is the second most abundant mineral in the body (after magnesium) and it is helpful for wound healing, taste and smell, and supporting the immune system (5, 6). 

A deficiency of zinc is one of the risk factors for gastrointestinal disorders including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and colorectal cancer (7). In fact, 70% of the immune system is in the gut and zinc helps maintain the intestinal barrier. 

In a recent study, dietary zinc resulted in positive changes in the gut microbiota therefore, decreasing resistance to Clostridium difficile (a very challenging infection) (8).


L-carnosine is made in the body from β-alanine and L-histidine. Carnosine has been shown to have antioxidant properties, to help protect against inflammation, and supports normal rebuilding of intestinal tissue (9) . It is found in skeletal muscle and the brain and increases muscle carnosine with supplementation (10). 

Zinc Carnosine Supplement

The combination as zinc carnosine is an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-ulcer, and gastroprotective supplement (11, 12, 13, 14). Research is suggesting zinc carnosine reduces leaky gut symptoms by decreasing inflammation and healing the intestinal lining.

Benefits of Zinc Carnosine 

There are many health benefits of supplementing with zinc carnosine (15).

Restoring Leaky Gut

The barrier in the intestines is made of a surface mucus, the epithelial layer, and immune defenses. The tight junctions in the intestinal tract keep toxins, bacteria, and food antigens out; however, when the gut is compromised, the junctions can loosen and allow these to leak into the bloodstream causing inflammation (16, 17).

Zinc carnosine heals the gut and reduces inflammation.

Decrease H. Pylori 

H. pylori is a gram-negative bacteria that is prevalent worldwide infecting over 4.4 billion people. Many people with H. pylori have no symptoms however, some H. pylori infections if they persist for years can progress to ulcers and even cancer (18).

Many antibiotic resistant strains of H. pylori have emerged, and zinc carnosine has shown to be an effective treatment (19, 20). Zinc carnosine inhibits the growth of H. Pylori by interfering with urease activity (an enzyme needed for H. pylori to survive) (21). 

Reduce Gastric Ulcers

Zinc carnosine, which was first approved in Japan in 1994, has been used to treat ulcers for more than 20 years (22).

Improve Gut Lining

A study showed no change in gut permeability when zinc carnosine and a strong NSAID indomethacin (known to disrupt gut integrity) were co-administered concluding that zinc carnosine stabilizes the gut mucosa (23).

Prevent Relapse of Ulcerative Colitis 

Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that commonly relapses and affects the large intestine.

Therapeutic doses (150mg) of zinc carnosine have been used to prevent relapse of ulcerative colitis (24, 25).

Mucositis Healing

Mucositis is inflammation of the mucosal area of the digestive system often seen in head and neck cancer treatment.

Studies show zinc carnosine is effective as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant in reducing mucosal damage (26, 27, 28). Improved taste disorders were also seen with zinc supplementation in a systematic review (29).

Zinc Carnosine Dosage

The standard dosage of zinc carnosine in studies is 1-2 capsules per day. 

Typically, one capsule is 75 mg zinc carnosine which equals about 16 mg of elemental zinc and two capsules are 150 mg zinc carnosine and 32 mg elemental zinc. 

The RDA of zinc for adults is about 8 mg for women and 11 mg for men. The Tolerable Upper Intake Limit (UL) of zinc is 40 mg/day.

Zinc and Copper Balance

Minerals like zinc and copper work together in our body.

The UL amount of 40 mg of zinc represents the upper limit that may influence zinc to copper balance.

High doses of zinc over an extended period of time may cause a copper deficiency so balancing the zinc and copper is critical to maintain good health and prevent side effects (30, 31, 32).

The ideal zinc to copper ratio is 8:1, with an acceptable range from 4:1 to 12:1. Many clinicians recommend 8-15 mg zinc to 1 mg copper for long term use (depending on nutritional intake of zinc and copper). 

Some clinicians may recommend higher doses of zinc for a short period of time to maximize healing. A micronutrient test can assess your levels.

Always check with your healthcare professional for individual recommendations.

Final Thoughts

Leaky gut is when the intestinal barrier in our gut is damaged which may allow the transmission of harmful toxins, bad bacteria, and undigested food leak into the tissues and bloodstream.

Causes of leaky gut include gut infections, SIBO, medications, food sensitivities/intolerances, stress, and more.

Common symptoms are abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and fatigue.

Zinc carnosine reduces leaky gut symptoms by decreasing inflammation and healing the intestinal lining.

It can restore leaky gut, decrease H. pylori, reduce ulcers, improve gut lining, prevent relapse of ulcerative colitis, and reduce mucositis.

Dosage of zinc carnosine is typically 75-150 mg.

Talk to your healthcare professional about dosage and balancing zinc and copper.

Read the blog for more information on functional nutrition.

Test don’t guess. 

Contact me to schedule an appointment to review your personalized nutritional health.

© Amy Archer RDN, CLT, CHWC

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