L-carnitine is an ammonium compound synthesized from amino acids, which is primarily responsible for the transportation of fatty acids in the body, essentially from where they are absorbed and digested to where they can be broken down and converted into energy.
Carnitine is produced naturally in the human body, in the kidneys and in the liver, and stored mostly in the muscles, but also in the brain and reproductive system.
Implications of L-carnitine
Carnitine deficiency can be caused by genetic factors or by illness or circumstance, and may present with chest pains, muscular weakness and mental impairment.
If you experience any of the symptoms of carnitine deficiency you should seek medical assistance at once, in which case your doctor will probably recommend treatment in the form of L-carnitine supplementation.
Blessing for heart patients
L-carnitine has been found to have a beneficial effect for people who suffer from many different types of cardiovascular illness, including those who have recently suffered a heart attack, sometimes referred to as a myocardial infarction.
Studies indicate that patients whose diets were supplemented with L–carnitine were significantly less likely to develop further heart problems, or to experience a relapse.
This applied to recent heart attack victims, as well as people suffering from abnormal heart beats and congestive heart failure, which is when lack of heart ‘power’ causes a backlog of blood in the lungs.
Other studies found that victims of congestive heart failure who supplemented their diets with L-carnitine were able to maintain a higher level of physical activity than those who did not.
This can be crucial in the treatment of patients with heart conditions who are not able to take much exercise.
L-carnitine may be able to lower levels of LDL cholesterol, known sometimes as ‘bad’ cholesterol, while simultaneously improving levels of HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol in the body.
Early results regarding this possible use of it are promising, but further studies are needed before it can be reasonably recommended as a treatment for high cholesterol.
Why one should refer L-carnitine?
Sufferers of intermittent claudation may also experience some relief as a result of taking L-carnitine.
Intermittent Claudation is condition in which he build-up of plaque in the arteries causes’ pain and cramps, often quite severe, in the legs due to the reduced blood flow.
It has been shown to reduce the symptoms of this condition and also to increase the mobility and activity capacity of sufferers.
Carnitine is sometimes marketed as a supplement to assist in weight loss, with some results indicating that people who took L-carnitine supplements as part of a heathy diet and exercise program lost more weight at the end of it than those who did not take the carnitine.
Further studies are ongoing into this possible use of L-carnitine.
Anorexia is known to cause muscle weakness and decreased muscle mass, primarily because the body is being starved of essential nutrients.
Some doctors believe that supplementing with L-carnitine in addition to other amino acids and proteins can substantially reduce the loss of muscle mass in cases of anorexia nervosa.
Damage to the liver caused by alcohol abuse may be reversed by L-carnitine supplementation, the carnitine helping to compensate for the body’s natural carnitine which is inhibited by alcohol, and thus helping to purge the liver of the resultant build-up of fat that can cause liver damage.
Some forms of it which are specially formulated to be absorbed easily by the brain have been shown to have a possible role in delaying the onset of some brain conditions including dementia and Alzheimer’s and to prevent degeneration in some mental functions in elderly people, for example their memory.
One study also recommended it as a treatment to improve the cognitive function of children with Down’s syndrome.
Your doctor will be able to advise you whether L-carnitine may be an appropriate supplement for your condition.
Cases of chronic fatigue syndrome are on the increase, many nutritionists believe, due to the low levels of some key nutrients in our modern diets, including amino acids such as carnitine.
One study has found that in cases of chronic fatigue syndrome, supplementing with amino acids such as L-carnitine, as well as other nutrients, can significantly relieve symptoms of the condition and prevent relapses.
Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland is overactive, and can present with symptoms such as increased heart rate, anxiety and insomnia.
Supplementing with L-carnitine has been shown to substantially relieve symptoms of hyperthyroidism in some patients.
Recommended daily amounts of L-carnitine vary from person to person and can also be dependent on condition and circumstance.
For an adult simply supplementing with L-carnitine to improve their general health and possibly to help athletic performance, around 2000 mg per day is suggested, often split into two or three doses to be taken at regular intervals.
If you are taking L-carnitine to treat a medical condition, your doctor should be able to advise you of a suitable dosage.
Side effects due to L-carnitine supplementation are rare and mild, but you should always consult your doctor if you experience detrimental symptoms after taking any new supplement or medication.
Patients taking some kinds of medications should not take L-carnitine without first consulting their physician. These medications include Valproic acid, Isotretinoin, Doxorubicin and AZT, a popular treatment for HIV AIDS.