Health Benefits Of L-Carnitine
L-carnitine or carnitine assists in the conversion of fat into energy. It is produced in the liver and kidneys and stored in the brain, heart, skeletal muscles and sperm. In normal circumstances, the body produces an adequate quantity of l-carnitine. Some individuals, however, are unable to produce enough of the substance or experience difficulties in transporting it to the tissues for bodily use. Low levels of l-carnitine may also occur due to conditions such as angina and intake of certain medications.
Some of the most common health benefits of l-carnitine include:
- L-carnitine is known to help in weight loss because it plays an important role in the transport of fatty acids which are then burned and converted into energy. Fat which is consumed through the diet is therefore used as fuel for the body. Many fitness experts recommend l-carnitine for weight loss because it is known to increase fat burning during cardiovascular and strength training workouts. Individuals who are overweight may benefit by taking l-carnitine supplements since they mobilize the fat that accumulates around the tissues. Some of the other ways in which l-carnitine assists in weight loss includes removal of fat waste products from the bloodstream, prevention of fat accumulation in the liver, heart and skeletal muscles, improvement in lean muscle building and stabilization of blood sugar.
- L-carnitine is known to improve energy levels since it is involved in fat burning. Studies have shown that intake of l-carnitine supplements may enhance athletic performance and prevent fatigue for longer periods of time. These supplements may also protect the muscles from damage during strenuous exercise.
- Individuals with genetic conditions like autism often experience a carnitine deficiency which means that they have low levels of the substance in the blood. Intake of l-carnitine supplements by these individuals may help to improve mitochondrial function. Autism and other related disorders are often associated with mitochondrial dysfunction.
- Studies on the use of l-carnitine for infertility have shown that the substance improves sperm motility in men. L-carnitine is an important nutrient which enables proper functioning of the sperm cells.
- One of the first uses of l-carnitine in skin care was for treating cellulite, since it plays such a key role in the breakdown of fats. Today it is also used in skin care products for various conditions such as scarring, sunburn and wrinkles.
- Some laboratory tests have indicated that l-carnitine is beneficial in treating anxiety since it improves the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and other cognitive conditions. It is also known to benefit individuals in the initial stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Research on the use of l-carnitine for cancer has suggested that the substance may help to relieve some cancer symptoms. Daily intake of l-carnitine supplements may help to reduce the fatigue caused by cancer and its treatment. Individuals with terminal cancer experienced better sleep and an improvement in mood after taking l-carnitine supplements.
- Some health experts recommend l-carnitine for hyperthyroid disease since it is known to alleviate symptoms such as nervousness, tremors, sleeplessness and heart palpitations which often occur due to an overactive thyroid gland. L-carnitine may work by restricting the activity of the thyroid hormone. However, the supplement should be taken only after consulting a doctor.
L-carnitine is beneficial for the heart since it receives almost 70 percent of its energy from the breakdown of fatty acids. Studies have shown that l-carnitine also helps to improve problems of the heart such as high blood pressure, angina and hardened arteries. However, these supplements should not be used as a replacement for medications. Individuals with type 2 diabetes may also benefit from taking l-carnitine supplements. A study showed that test subjects who were given l-carnitine experienced reduced bad cholesterol levels and a lower level of general oxidative stress which usually occurs in diabetic individuals. Carnitine may also help to reduce nerve pain and damage which occurs due to diabetic neuropathy.
There is no substantial evidence on the effects of using l-carnitine supplements during pregnancy. However, it is always best to avoid intake of any medications of supplements until approved by a doctor. It may be safe to take the recommended doses of l-carnitine during breastfeeding. Studies have shown that small amounts of l-carnitine which pass onto infants through the breast milk do not trigger any side effects. There is not much known on the specific effects of taking higher doses of l-carnitine during breastfeeding. Again, it is better to seek advice from a doctor before using any supplement while breastfeeding.
Side Effects Of L-Carnitine
In normal quantities, l-carnitine does not have any adverse effects on health. The recommended dosage is usually 5 grams per day. It is important to adhere strictly to the dosage requirements as higher levels of l-carnitine in the body can lead to some side effects. Some possible side effects of l carnitine include:
- Taking l-carnitine in excess of the prescribed dose may lead to increase in appetite and diarrhea.
- Some people experience higher energy levels even at night after taking l-carnitine supplements. This may lead to difficulties in falling asleep.
- Some individuals who took l-carnitine supplements for long periods of time felt that a ‘fishy’ smell emanated from their bodies and they also complained of skin problems such as itching and rash.
- L-carnitine may interact with other medications such as those meant for diabetes, high blood pressure, cirrhosis, kidney problems and peripheral vascular disease.
- L-carnitine is not recommended for individuals taking doxorubicin, a type of cancer medication. Since l-carnitine protects the heart from the effects of doxorubicin, its effectiveness is lowered.
- L-carnitine is involved in metabolic processes; some people may experience nausea or dizziness when they first start taking the supplement. These symptoms usually subside once the body adapts to the supplement.
- People who take l-carnitine regularly may experience recurring skin rash, vomiting and diarrhea.
Information, Facts, Recommended Dosage
Here are some facts about L-carnitine:
- L-carnitine works as an antioxidant and hence is recommended as a treatment for various conditions. Due to its antioxidant nature, it can fight the free radicals and protect the cells and DNA from damage.
- L-carnitine is popularly used as a dietary supplement and is also present in foods such as red meat and poultry.
- It is similar to an amino acid, but does not work as a catalyst like regular amino acids. It is categorized along with amino acids because it aids in the movement of fatty acids into the mitochondria where energy is produced.
- The body can produce l-carnitine naturally when there are sufficient levels of certain vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, B1, B6 and iron.
- L-carnitine supplements are mainly recommended for people who do not get adequate amounts of the nutrient through their diet.
- The recommended dosage of l-carnitine is between 1 and 3 grams per day. The type of ailment being treated will determine the exact dose.