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What is Carnitine?


A compound found mostly in muscles where it plays an essential role as a transporter of the fatty acids used in energy production. Carnitine is synthesized in the body from two amino acids, lysine and methionine. The synthesis requires iron and certain vitamins (B6, C, and niacin).

Two forms of carnitine exist: D-carnitine and L-carnitine, but only L-carnitine is physiologically significant. There is speculation that an extra dose of L-carnitine can boost long-term energy supplies and reduce body fat because it accelerates fat metabolism, or fat burning. Manufacturers of special diet foods containing carnitine claim that they boost athletic performance and help people to lose weight.

It is widely agreed that carnitine supplements are necessary for those who have a deficiency, but there is less agreement about its general use. Over-the-counter products were banned in the United States because there was no rigorous proof of the manufacturers' claims. In 1993, France stopped the sale of dozens of products containing carnitine because a government investigation concluded that carnitine neither enhances athletic performance nor helps people lose weight.

Carnitine is really not an amino acid, but because of the close structural sameness, it is normally classed with amino acids, and is also known as vitamin BT. It is available as D-carnitine, L-carnitine, DL-carnitine as well as acetyl-L-carnitine, but with L-carnitine being the most popular type. L-Carnitine is synthesized from the essential amino acids lysine and methionine, but enough vitamin B1 (thiamine) and B6 (pyridoxine) must be available.

Unlike a true amino acid, it is not used in protein synthesis nor as neurotransmitter, but is used for long-chain fatty acid transport and is required for entry of these long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondria of the cell, as well as for the removal of short-chain organic acids from the mitochondria, which frees the intra-mitochondrial coenzyme.

It is therefore important for the energy supply within the cell, as well as muscles, assists in preventing fatty build-up in areas such as the heart, liver, and skeletal muscles.

It may also reduce the risk of poor fat metabolism in diabetes, alcohol-induced fatty liver as well as the risk of heart problems. Carnitine has also been shown to improve the antioxidant effect of vitamin C as well as E.

When used along with traditionally prescribed medications, carnitine may improve survival rates after a heart attack. Other benefits, including lowering the heart rate, blood pressure, and lipid levels occurred in treated groups. The dose and type used in one study was 0.14 oz (4 g) per day of L-carnitine.

Most studies of carnitine used to improve athletic performance have not shown any benefit. Supplementation may have some minimal effects on Alzheimer's patients; some study groups had slightly slower rates of deterioration. These results remain questionable and further study is needed.

There is some evidence that the use of supplemental L-carnitine, at a dose of approximately 500-1000 mg three times per day, may help to lower levels of serum cholesterol. However, this regimen would be expensive, and there are other effective and less expensive supplements available. These include garlic, red yeast rice, niacin, high fiber diets, and soy proteins.

A condition known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) causes a number of potentially debilitating symptoms, including severe fatigue, muscle pain, and depression. Carnitine may prove helpful in alleviating the symptoms of CFS, perhaps by increasing the efficiency of energy production. One small study used a dose of 0.1 oz (3 g) of L-carnitine per day.

Undocumented claims for the health benefits of carnitine include treatment of Down's syndrome, muscular dystrophy, some forms of male infertility, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and alcoholic fatty liver disease. Carnitine has also been said to reduce the toxicity of AZT, a medication for AIDS.


Valproic acid, a drug sometimes used to treat seizures, is more likely to cause toxicity if the patient under treatment has a carnitine deficiency. The drug may cause decreased carnitine levels. A healthcare provider should be consulted regarding the advisability of taking supplemental carnitine under those circumstances. Supplements of carnitine may increase the effects of the anticoagulant medication warfarin.

Carnitine Supplements:

Increases stamina and agility

Improves blood circulation

Increases fat burning metabolism

Hinders hunger cravings

Strengthens the immune system

Health Benefits:

Carnitine Supplements increase the body's ability to turn food into energy, especially fat. When you increase energy and decrease fat levels in the body at the same time, which carnitine does, a lot of things go right. The liver, one of the most central organs in the body, works better. Circulation improves, because there is less fat in the arteries. This improved circulation helps strengthen the body's defenses.

Carnitine is required for all fat metabolism to take place in your body because it is an integral part of the system that must move and transfer all body fat to the precise location in your cells where it can be burned. Not suprisingly, carnitine is found in the highest concentrations in those body tissues that have a high demand for energy, such as the skeletal and cardiac muscle tissues. In addition to helping facilitate fat metabolism and energy production, research has shown that carnitine is also beneficial in supporting cardiovascular health.

Much research points to the benefits of carnitine in endurance sports. Carnitine enhances aerobic performance, allowing athletes to exercise longer without fatigue. Trained runners given 2 grams of carnitine per day increased their peak running speed by a remarkable 5.7 percent.

Research shows that athletic endurance increases dramatically when carnitine is taken regularly. This is particularly true for those who only exercise once or twice per week. Research corroborates this, showing that carnitine can stimulate the efficient use of fat as fuel in non trained athletes to give them that "trained like" state of greater endurance. The dose that appears to be most helpful for enhancing aerobic performance is in the range of 1-4 grams pet day.

Jarrow Liquid L-Carn 1000

Source Naturals Acetyl L-Carnitine

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