What Is L-Carnitine?
L carnitine is derived from the lysine and methionine amino acids. It is mainly synthesized in the liver and the kidneys, and must be transported for use to other tissues in the body. It is found in highest concentration in tissues that use fatty acids as the main dietary fuel, such as the skeletal and cardiac muscles.
One of the key uses of Acetyl L-Carnitine supplement is for fatty acid oxidation - helping users burn unwanted body fat. Fatty acids are one the key energy sources the body uses, and oxidation is the process by which they're broken down to create energy. The fatty acids cannot penetrate the inner mitochondia membrane (where they are burned for energy), and the key role for L-Carnitine is to transport fatty acids accross the mitochondra membrane to allow for oxidation of the fats.
Sources Of L Carnitine From Foods
Carnitine plays a fundamental role in energy production, and it is used to support all bodily functions that require high levels of energy. It is present in many of the foods we eat, such as meats, vegetables, and grains. Typically, it comes in higher concentration in red meats such as beef and lamb, and in lower concentration (or none) in foods such as white meats and vegetables.
For example, beef has about 145mg of l-carnitine per every 100 grams, compared to only 2.6mg per every 100grams of mushroom. It's even less for other vegetables such as carrots with only 0.4mg. Obviously, if you're a vegetarian, you're at a disadvantage for carnitine sources compared to someone who eats meat in their regular diet - making it a very good reason to supplement with acetyl l carnitine supplements. (see below for deficiency).
Your body can produce a very small amount of L-Carnitine on a daily basis, with the highest concentrations in the heart and skeletal muscles. In certain conditions, the demand for carnitine may exceed a person's ability to synthesize it, thus making it a conditionally essential nutrient.
As said above, individuals who eat little to no meats (vegetarians) will benefit from supplementation of L-Carnitine. Although deficiencies are uncommon, muscle fatigue, cramping are some signs of possible deficiency. Generally, deficiency is categorized as primary and secondary carnitine deficiencies.
Primary Carnitine Deficiency
These are relatively rare hereditary disorders, such as:
- Systemic deficiency
- Myopathic deficiency
These deficiencies are generally characterized by low carnitine levels, poor absorption of l-carnitine from diet, muscle pain, progressive muscle weakness, etc. The myopathic deficiency is less severe than the systemic form.
Secondary L Carnitine Deficiency
This form can be hereditary, or acquired, and generally, there's is low levels of available l-carnitine. This can be characterized by:
- Increased loss of carnitine
- Insufficient synthesis of carnitine
- Malabsorption from diet
These forms of deficiency are generally rare, and although vegetable sources contain much less (close to none) L-Carnitine, vegetarians can usually synthesize enough carnitine to prevent deficiency. However, among pre-mature infants, children, and breast-feeding women, vegetarians are more likely to be deficient.
Some symptoms of deficiency include:
- Kidneys not functioning properly after exercise
- Weak muscle
- Muscle fatigue and muscle cramping
- Heart irregularities
- (keep in mind: L-Carnitine is found in highest concentrations in the heart and skeletal muscles.)
Acetyl L Carnitine Benefits and Side Effects
There are very few documented side effects, and they include:
- Increase in blood pressure
- Faster heartbeats
- Large amounts may cause diarrhea
That's about it, and their occurances are quite rare. As for benefits of L-Carnitine, there are quite a few:
- L-carnitine plays an important role in energy production
- It helps in weightloss and fat burner (see next point)
- It transports long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondra to metablize to generate energy
- Enhance cellular energy in the brain
- Improve mental performance
- Helps slow the effects of aging
- Decerases symptoms of depression
- Helps prevent cataracts
- Used to support all bodily functions that have a high energy demand
How much should you take?
Generally, about 2 grams should be taken, and L-carnitine supplements usually come in 250mg and 500mg caps. If you're looking for Acetyl L Carnitine supplements, follow the links below.
If you're looking for a product that contains all the nutrients essential for healthy living and functioning, take a look at Evolv. Evolv is a multi-nutritent supplement system that supplies your body with all the essential nutrients it needs for healthy and proper function. It comes with key ingredients such as alpha lipoic acid, Co Q 10, essential fatty acids, hyaluronic acid, multi-vitamins, minerals and much more.
Am J Clin Nutr 1980 Jul;33(7):1489-92 -- Guarnieri GF, Ranieri F, Toigo G, Vasile A, Ciman M, Rizzoli V, Moracchiello M, Campanacci L.
Rebouche CJ. Carnitine. In: Shils ME, Olson JA, Shike M, Ross AC, eds. Nutrition in Health and Disease. 9th ed. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins; 1999:505-512
Brass EP, Hiatt WR. The role of carnitine and carnitine supplementation during exercise in man and in individuals with special needs. J Am Coll Nutr. 1998;17(3):207-215