Are you considering taking a super L-carnitine supplement? Before you do, it is important that you educate yourself about the risks and benefits of such supplementation. As with any other nutritional supplement, it is always best to check with your personal health care provider before self-prescribing a supplement.
What is L-carnitine?
The super L-carnitine supplement is similar to an amino acid; however, instead of being used in protein synthesis like an amino acid is, L-carnitine is used by the body to transport fatty acids into the cell's mitochondria for oxidation. In English? It escorts fat so that it can be burned by the body rather than stored.
L-carnitine's structure is similar to that of amino acids; however, its use in the body is much more closely related to B vitamins. While L-carnitine isn't an essential nutrient, it can be - and is - manufactured in the body in the presence of proper nutrition. In order for the body to manufacture L-carnitine, it must have adequate levels of iron, vitamin C, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, lycine, methionine and niacin. An absence of L-carnitine in the body can result in decreased fatty acid metabolism.
How the Body Gets L-carnitine
L-carnitine can come from dietary sources. The primary dietary source of this nutrient is from animal foods, including mutton and lamb (with mutton being the richest source of L-carnitine available in animal foods), beef pork, chicken and milk.
You can also obtain l-carnitine through supplementation - as with a super L-carnitine supplement. The most commonly available form of L-carnitine is as a liquid supplement, or as part of a liquid supplemental formula.
The liquid supplement, while not delicious, has a sweet, vaguely medicinal flavor. Mixing it in with juice may help to make it more palatable for those who find that they can't stomach the flavor of the liquid supplement.
Benefits of L-carnitine
There are a number of listed benefits of taking an L-carnitine supplement, including:
- It may increase aerobic capacity when taken immediately prior to a period of strenuous activity.
- It may help to improve your body's blood lipid profile; potentially lowering LDL and triglycerides while raising HDL levels after a period of regular supplementation.
- L-carnitine may prevent fatty build up in many of the body's organs including the heart and liver, as well as in the skeletal muscles.
- It increases the effectiveness of the antioxidants, vitamins C and E.
- It may help your body to metabolize fats rather than storing them.
- L-carnitine may be helpful in reducing the symptoms of angina pectoris and congestive hart failure.
- It may help to promote a healthy and regulated heart rate.
- A derivative of L-carnitine, acetyl L-carnitine may be beneficial in preventing memory loss or may actually help to improve memory.
- L-carnitine supplementation may be helpful to those who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome.
- L-carnitine may also provide benefit in a few other conditions including alcohol-related liver disease, kidney disease, male infertility and Down's syndrome.
- Marketing for L-carnitine suggests that it may be a weight loss aid; however, no studies have been done to support these claims.
Side Effects and Cautions
- Never start supplementation without first checking with your primary health care provider.
- Extremely high doses of L-carnitine may cause diarrhea.
- While no toxicity has ever been reported, it is best to follow the manufacturer's instructions or the directions of your health care provider.
- Those undergoing treatment with AZT, Valporic Acid, Duxorubicin nad Isotretinoin should talk with their health care provider before taking supplemental L-carnitine.
- Check with your doctor before combining L-carnitine supplements with any other medication.
- Rare side effects include rash, body odor and an increase in appetite.
It is possible to be deficient in L-carnitine. In some cases, the body is not able to absorb L-carnitine from foods; or, the body is incapable of absorbing one or more of the nutrients essential for making L-carnitine. In these cases, supplementation is warranted. Symptoms of L-carnitine deficiency include:
- Chest pain
- Muscle weakness
Where to Find a Super L-carnitine Supplement
Super L-carnitine is available from a number of manufacturers. It is available as both a liquid and a capsule; however, it is believed that the liquid is the most effective form of L-carnitine. Liquid super L-carnitine can be found at your local health food store, or at a variety of online sources where vitamins are sold. Liquid super L-carnitine usually costs around $20 for 16 ounces.