L-Carnitine: Why take this supplement?
What is L-carnitine?
The L-carnitine is a well-known nutrient that helps the body turn fat into energy.
Carnitine mobilizes the fat stored in the body, and burns it during physical exercise. It is produced in the liver and kidneys, and stored in the skeletal muscles, heart, brain and sperm. This supplement brings benefits both in sports performance and general health.
Let’s look at some reasons why you should take L-carnitine supplements.
L-Carnitine and physical exercise
Some scientific reports indicate that carnitine improves physical performance. Despite presenting health problems, volunteers who took part in the study showed considerable improvements in terms of performance and endurance [*1], [*2].
Some scientific studies show that carnitine reduces fat. This occurs because L-Carnitine uses fat as a source of energy. So, while you lose fat, you are gaining energy.
It’s no wonder carnitine is acclaimed in the world of sports supplements.
L-Carnitine and Health
Various scientific studies have shown that carnitine is an effective supplement for the treatment of certain health problems.
Angina, or chest angina, is a pain in the chest caused by insufficient supply of oxygen to the heart muscle. Various medical experiments indicate that L-carnitine can help reduce the symptoms of angina and improve the physical performance of individuals with this problem [*4].
Some small studies suggest that people who consume L-carnitine immediately after a suffering a heart attack are less likely to suffer a new attack or other type of chest pain [*5]. Similarly, other studies suggest that carnitine can help increase energy levels in individuals with heart problems [*6]. Despite this, self-medication is not advised, rather, the individual seek advice from a healthcare professional as to the best form of treatment to follow.
Oxidative stress occurs due to an imbalance between the production of free radicals (harmful to the organism) and the biological compounds capable of eliminating them. Carnitine has been included in medical treatments, as it helps reduce stress [*7].
Diabetic neuropathy is a medical condition that is characterized by lesion of the peripheral nervous system. Some preliminary studies indicate that acetyl L-carnitine can help treat this condition, reducing physical pain and repairing the damaged nerves. It has also been suggested that carnitine can help in nerve regeneration [*8].
Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss
Some studies have shown that acetyl L-carnitine can delay the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, and can help restore the memory in elderly individuals [*9]. However, other studies found no relevant association between carnitine and Alzheimer’s disease. Further studies are needed to obtain a conclusive position in this regard.
Individuals with carnitine deficiency in the organism are more likely to produce low sperm counts, a factor that contributes to male infertility. Various studies have shown that supplementation with L-carnitine can increase sperm production and reduce infertility [*10].
Peyronie’s disease is characterized by curvature of the penis, caused by a blockage of the blood flow, which causes problems during sexual activity. A promising study showed that acetyl L-carnitine can reduce the pain and decrease the manifestations of this disease .
Hyperthyroidism is a disorder that occurs when the thyroid gland produces more hormones than the body needs. If it is not detected and treated in time, it can severely damage various organs of the body. A study showed that L-carnitine can help prevent and reduce the symptoms caused by this disorder [*12].
Sources of carnitine
Carnitine is found in red meat (particularly lamb) and dairy products. It is also found in smaller quantities, in certain types of fish, poultry, wheat, asparagus, pineapple and peanut butter.
- Hiatt, W. et. al., Propionyl-L-carnitine improves exercise performance and functional status in patients with claudication, American Journal of Medicine 1;110(8):616-22, June 2001
- Werbach, W., Nutritional strategies for treating chronic fatigue syndrome, Alternative Medicine Review 5(2):93-108, April 2000
- Malaguarnera, M. et. al., L-Carnitine treatment reduces severity of physical and mental fatigue and increases cognitive functions in centenarians: a randomized and controlled clinical trial, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 86, Nº 6, págs. 1738-1744, Dezember 2007
- Fugh-Berman, A., Herbs and dietary supplements in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, Preview Cardiology 3(1):24-32, 2000
- Xue, Y. et. al., L-carnitine as an adjunct therapy to percutaneous coronary intervention for non-ST elevation myocardial infarction, Cardiovascular Drugs and Therapy 21(6):445-8, Dezember 2007
- Witte, K. & Clark, A. & Cleland, J., Chronic heart failure and micronutrients, Journal of the American College of Cardiology Foundation 37:1765-1774, 2001
- Bemi, A. et. al., L-carnitine enhances resistance to oxidative stress by reducing DNA damage in Ataxia telangiectasia cells, Mutation Research 29;650(2):165-74, February 2008
- Head, K., Peripheral neuropathy: pathogenic mechanisms and alternative therapies, Alternative Medicine Review 11(4):294-329, Dezember 2006
- Pettegrew, J. & Levine, J. & McClure, R., Acetyl-L-carnitine physical-chemical, metabolic, and therapeutic properties: relevance for its mode of action in Alzheimer’s disease and geriatric depression, Molecular Psychiatry Vol. 5, Nº 6, págs. 616-632, Dezember 2000
- Sinclair, S., Male infertility: nutritional and environmental considerations, Alternative Medicine Review 5(1):28-38, Dezember 2000
- Biagiotti, G. & Cavallini, G., Acetyl-L-carnitine vs tamoxifen in the oral therapy of Peyronie’s disease: a preliminary report, British Journal of Urology International 88(1):63-7, July 2001
- Benvenga, S. et. al., Usefulness of L-Carnitine, A Naturally Occurring Peripheral Antagonist of Thyroid Hormone Action, in Iatrogenic Hyperthyroidism: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism Vol. 86, Nº 8, 3579-3594, 2001