L-carnitine is a rising star in the natural health industry. Modern medicine has used it in IV form for years. In natural medicine it is just hitting its stride. What is it though? L-carnitine is made in the body from the amino acids lysine and methionine, and is needed to release energy from fat. It is important in many biological functions including the transport of fatty acids into mitochondria (the power factory of your cells). L-carnitine is found in dairy and red meats. Because this is the main dietary source, some vegetarians may require supplementation with L-carnitine to help maintain good health. As a supplement, L-carnitine is taken for many health challenges including: Chronic Fatigue, Diabetes, Weight Loss, Cholesterol, Heart disease, infertility and a whole host of other health issues.
Of these health challenges, L-carnitine seems most effective in supporting heart health, fatigue, athletic performance (and recovery), infertility (men) and weight loss.
With regards to heart health, science has shown L-carnitine has a positive effect on the heart muscle and beat. It also is helpful in maintaining healthy triglycerides and cholesterol. This combination provides a multi-faceted approach to cardiovascular health.
Now that obesity is considered a disease, modern medicine is looking for more cutting edge approaches (without harmful side effects) to promote weight loss. L-Carnitine may be the solution we are looking for. Studies in adolescents have shown that L-carnitine supplementation promotes weight loss and decreases body fat content. When used in conjunction with proper diet and activity, it showed even greater effects on body weight, LDL, blood sugar and blood pressure.
Until recently, L-carnitine was either considered a heart healthy supplement or for use in athletes. Athletes now have even more reason to use L-carnitine. Recent studies show that supplementing with L-carnitine before and during exercise will reduce muscle soreness, reduce fatigue and help improve recovery times from high intensity exercise. Some of these effects may be attributed to the increased blood flow that can accompany L-carnitine use. Decrease fatigue and muscle soreness may also be from the ability of L-carnitine to decrease lactic acid accumulation and spare glycogen breakdown.
L-carnitine has shown to be helpful for men with infertility problems. L-carnitine plays an important roll in increasing sperm count, concentration and percent sperm motility. I now recommend this as part of a couple’s infertility program.
Lastly, when purchasing a supplement of L-carnitine you need to make sure you find one with the L-Form only. In nature there are D and L forms of Carnitine. The D-carnitine form is not generally recognized as safe and is considered to be biologically inactive. Products like Carnipure will accomplish this goal since it is only manufactured in this form. (other forms of carnitine are not manufactured in the same manner) If you aren’t sure you are purchasing the L-form only, spin the bottle and read the supplement facts panel and ingredient list. If it says L-carnitine you are getting the right product. If it says D-carnitine, D,L-carnitine or anything else, you are not getting what I recommend and use. As with anything, education goes a long way.
In my recent training program changes (training for a half-marathon), I purchased one of the Vitamin Shoppe brand Carnipure liquds. Just 1000mg per day does the trick for both my wife and I as we train for our event. We travel with effervescent tablets to avoid issues with liquids when we fly.