Among the most well known and studied substances is carnitine. Athletes and people with low energy levels are using carnitine supplements. But how can we benefit from taking carnitine?
What is carnitine
Carnitine is naturally formed from lysine and methionine and is secreted in the liver and kidneys. Its main role is to mediate in various pathways of metabolism and in the production of energy in mitochondria. Carnitine has the ability to be stored in the muscles, brain, heart even in the sperm, while in food carnitine exists mainly in meat and dairy products.
Actions and properties
Energy production and metabolism
Carnitine has the property of transferring fatty acid molecules through cell membranes in the mitochondria, mainly in the heart and skeletal muscles, helping to further oxidize and use them for energy production. It mediates in the metabolism of fat, protects cells from fatty infiltration and helps built muscle mass.
Carnitine is a powerful antioxidant molecule. It has the property of interacting with free oxygen radicals, thus protecting cells and DNA from oxidative damage. Because of its antioxidant action, carnitine can also be used from people with diabetes who are characterized by increased oxidative stress while helping them to better regulate glucose.
Studies suggest that taking carnitine seems to be of great help regarding cardiovascular health. In particular, it has been shown that carnitine supplementation helps treat angina, improve endurance in exercise, protect against heart attack and heart failure, while also helping to reduce the pain and symptoms of peripheral vascular disease.
L-carnitine, because it mediates in fatty acid metabolism, has been suggested as an ally to weight loss. Some studies have shown that it helps reduce fat, increase muscle mass and increase energy levels.
Although carnitine has many times been used to improve athletic performance, there are no studies that adequately support the benefit of taking it regarding endurance and performance in exercise.
Male infertility is caused by reduced sperm motility and quality. Carnitine is stored in the semen and is an important molecule for the energy, quality and quantity of the sperm. In individuals with infertility, supplementation of carnitine seemed to help increase the quantity and motility of sperm. Additional studies show that taking carnitine also helps in erectile dysfunction.
Carnitine is produced by the kidneys. Renal dysfunction leads to decreased levels of L-carnitine. Some studies suggest benefit from carnitine administration in kidney function.
Recommended dosage and forms
The recommended dosage of L-carnitine is 1-3 gr./day, which varies depending on the condition. There are various forms of carnitine, such as L-carnitine, acetyl-L-carnitine and propionyl-L-carnitine, either in liquid form, tablets or capsules.
Interactions and side effects
Taking carnitine has no side effects. High doses (> 5g / day) can cause diarrhea. People with renal and cardiovascular disease should not take L-carnitine supplements without the advice of their physician. People with hypothyroidism and general thyroid problems as well as people who take anticoagulants should not take carnitine.
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