L Carnitine Benefits

Human Muscles

In the strictest sense L Carnitine is not an amino acid, but a substance related to the B vitamins. However, due to its chemical structure, which is similar to those amazing amino acids it is usually considered together with them.

It's primary role is to help transport fatty acids into the energy producing units in the cells - the mitochondria, where they can be converted to energy. This is a major source of energy for the muscles, including those of the heart. As such, carnitine increases the use of fat as an energy source.

Carnitine is manufactured by the body if sufficient amounts of iron, vitamin B1, vitamin C, niacin, vitamin B6, lysine, and methionine are available. Carnitine also enhances the effectiveness of antioxidant vitamins C and E.

Carnitine is often referred to as a protein-like substance or a vitamin-like substance.

A carnitine derivative – an ester called acetyl-l-carnitine is thought to slow the aging of the brain as well as other nerve cells.

How Can L Carnitine Benefits – Benefit You?

Carnitine plays an important role in preventing fatty buildup, especially in the heart, liver, and skeletal muscles, and it helps keep blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in check.

The heart depends on adequate concentrations of carnitine for normal heart function.

Carnitine supplements are used to help people with carnitine deficiencies. More specifically, some people cannot properly absorb this nutrient from foods or have dietary deficiencies and thus would benefit from taking a supplement. Carnitine deficiencies may be caused by genetic disorders, liver or kidney problems, and certain medications. In addition, inadequate intake of iron, vitamin B1, vitamin C, niacin, vitamin B6, lysine, and methionine can result to a carnitine deficiency. Some symptoms of deficiency include: fatigue, chest pain, muscle weakness, and confusion.

In addition to the above aforementioned L-carnitine benefits, L-carnitine supplementation may benefit individuals with the following conditions:

Carnitine may be useful for angina pectoris, congestive heart failure, and elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It is also used for recovery from a heart attack.

In fact, in several large clinical trials conducted in Italy, this nutrient has shown to have boastful favorable effects in helping people recover more quickly from heart attacks. For example, according to the well-renowned tome The Pill Book Guide to Natural Medicines written by Michael Murray N.D. who states:

"Subjects taking carnitine showed significant improvements in heart rate, blood pressure, angina attacks, rhythm disturbances, and clinical signs of impaired heart function compared to the subjects taking placebo."

Carnitine has been used experimentally for Alzheimer's and age-related memory impairment. Acetyl-L-carnitine, or ALC--is currently being studied in supplement form as a possible treatment for memory loss associated with aging and Alzheimer's disease. Some studies have shown L- acetylcarnitine may help delay the progression of Alzheimer's disease. In addition, it may relieve senile depression and other forms of dementia, and improve memory in the elderly. However, results from other studies have been conflicting. As such, more research is needed to determine efficacy.

Carnitine may be helpful to those that suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome. Studies have shown decreased carnitine levels in many chronic fatigue sufferers.

Carnitine (L-propionylcarnitine) has been used in connection with intermittent claudication, a peripheral vascular disease of the legs. At least one well-designed study suggests that carnitine supplements, particularly proprinylcarnitine may improve muscle function and exercise capacity in those with peripheral vascular disease (PVD). In other words, PVD sufferers may be able to walk farther and longer.

Carnitine has also been used for male infertility. Low sperm count and abnormal motility have been linked to low carnitine levels in men. Several studies have shown that L-carnitine helped increase sperm counts and motility.

Other conditions L-carnitine supplementation may be of benefit include:

  • Down's syndrome
  • Alcohol-related Liver Disease
  • Kidney Disease and Hemodialysis

    It's important to note that although L-carnitine supplements has been marketed as a weight loss aid, more research is needed in this area.

    What about carnitine supplements for enhancing athletic performance? Studies are conflicting regarding L-carnitine's effectiveness for enhancing athletic performance.

    Food Sources

    Meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products are the richest sources of L-carnitine. Grains, fruits, and vegetables contain little or no carnitine.

    L Carnitine Precautions and Side Effects

    If you are currently being treated with AZT, Doxorubicin, Isotretinoin, and Valproic Acid you should speak to a physician before taking any L carnitine supplements.

    If you have a health condition or are on any prescription medications you should also consult with a physician before taking any L carnitine supplements.

    It does not appear that L carnitine causes significant side effects, high doses of 5 or more grams per day may cause diarrhea. Other possible but rare side effects include body odor, rash, and increased appetite. This dietary supplement is considered safe when used as recommended.

    Tips on Choosing A Carnitine Supplement

    1. Carnitine comes in L-form or D-form. Opt for the L-form as they more closely resemble the composition to the ones found naturally in food. In addition, the D–form may cause adverse side effects. Put simply, D-carnitine supplements should be avoided.

    Available L Forms: L-carnitine, L-acetylcarnitine, and L-propionylcarnitine.

    For therapeutic usage, dosages, and the preferred form, speak to a physician. Recommended doses, including preferred forms of L-carnitine supplements vary depending on the health condition.

    For example, for Alzheimer's and other brain disorders it appears that L-acetylcarnitine is the best. For angina and other cardiovascular applications, L-propionylcarnitine appears to be the most effective.

    2. Purchase your L carnitine supplements from pharmaceutical GMP compliant facilities, which adhere to the most exacting manufacturing standards.

    Dietary supplements are not strictly regulated in the U.S. and, as such, manufacturers do not have to guarantee the safety, effectiveness, or even the true content of their products.

    Although supplements should be labeled properly, many aren't, so what's stated on the label may not be in the container. The potency or purity may be inconsistent or misrepresented. Some products tested also contained very harmful contaminates! In fact, according to Consumerlab.com, the leading provider of independent test results states:

    "Testing by ConsumerLab.com shows that one in four supplements in the United States lacks the promised ingredients or has other serious problems."

    This is why it's crucial that you only purchase your supplements from pharmaceutical GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) compliant facilities. These facilities follow the exact same rigorous standards that pharmaceutical prescription medications must adhere to - thus - it ensures stringent requirements.

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    We hope this webpage discussing L carnitine was useful to you.

    To Your Health!

    The Editors

    Much more than L Carnitine can be found at our Amino Acid Popular Guide webpage
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