Health Benefits of L-Carnitine
• Boosts Cellular Energy
• Fitness Support
• Transports Fatty Acids
• Promotes fat metabolism by turning fat into fuel during workouts
• Supports healthy heart and lung function
• Helps decrease production of free radicals
• Lessens tissue damage after workouts
• Weight Loss
L-Carnitine is an amino acid found in high levels in muscle tissue. Carnitine plays an essential role in fat metabolism, by transporting long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondria of the cell, where they are burned for energy in a process called beta-oxidation. Beta-oxidation is especially important for our muscles, which largely depend on fatty acids for energy.
L-Carnitine is a nutrient responsible for the transport of long-chain fatty acids into the energy-producing centers of the cells (known as the mitochondria). In other words, L-Carnitine helps the body convert fatty acids into energy, which is used primarily for muscular activities throughout the body. The body produces L-Carnitine in the liver and kidneys and stores it in the skeletal muscles, heart, brain, and sperm. In infancy and in situations of high energy needs, such as pregnancy and breast-feeding, the need for L-Carnitine can exceed its production by the body. Therefore, L-Carnitine is considered a “conditionally essential” nutrient.
Studies suggest that people who take L-Carnitine supplements soon after suffering a heart attack may be less likely to suffer a subsequent heart attack, die of heart disease, experience chest pain and abnormal heart rhythms, or develop congestive heart failure.
Congestive Heart Failure (CHF): In addition to reducing one's chances of developing heart failure after a heart attack, some studies suggest that carnitine may help treat CHF once it has set in. These studies have shown that carnitine may improve exercise capacity in people with CHF.
In several studies, people who took L-carnitine supplements had a significant lowering of their total cholesterol and triglycerides, and an increase in their HDL ("good") cholesterol levels.
L-Carnitine, in theory, is thought to be helpful for improving exercise performance. However, studies in healthy athletes have not yet proven this theory.
Several studies suggest that amino acid levels, including L-Carnitine, are diminished in people with anorexia nervosa. Some experts believe that low levels of L-Carnitine contribute to muscle weakness frequently seen in people with this eating disorder.
Some researchers speculate that alcohol consumption reduces the ability of L-Carnitine to function properly in the body. This can lead to a buildup of fat in the liver. Supplementation with L-Carnitine has been shown to prevent and reverse the damage caused by alcohol-induced fatty buildup in the liver of animals.
Given that the kidney is a major site of L-Carnitine production, damage to this organ can cause a significant L-Carnitine deficiency. Many patients undergoing hemodialysis also experience L-Carnitine deficiencies. For these reasons, individuals with kidney disease (with or without the need for hemodialysis) may benefit from L-Carnitine supplementation, if recommended by a healthcare provider.
Male Infertility: Low sperm counts have been linked to low L-Carnitine levels in men. Several studies suggest that L-Carnitine supplementation may increase sperm count and mobility.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS): Some researchers speculate that chronic fatigue syndrome may be caused by deficiencies in a variety of nutrients, including carnitine. L-Carnitine has been compared to a medication for fatigue in a study of 30 people with CFS. Those who took L-Carnitine did much better than those who took the medication, particularly after receiving the supplement for 4 to 8 weeks.
Some research suggests that L-Carnitine may prove useful for preventing or diminishing the symptoms associated with an overactive thyroid. These symptoms include insomnia, nervousness, elevated heart rate, and tremors. In fact, in one study, a small group of people with hyperthyroidism had improvement in these symptoms, as well as normalization of their body temperature, when taking L-Carnitine.