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Carnitine has many functions in the human body

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body composition

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What is it?

L-Carnitine is often referred to as an “amino acid like” substance.

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The body synthesizes Carnitine from the amino acids L-Lysine and L-methionine. High levels of carnitine can be found in animal meats, especially red meats, from cows, lamb, and sheep.

Carnitine supplements come in a number of different forms. The most com- mon are l-carnitine-l-tartrate, acetyl-l-carnitine, and propionyl-l-carnitine.

What is it supposed to do?

Carnitine has many functions in the human body, but is best known for its ability to shuttle long chain fatty acids across the membrane of cells so they can be burned (oxidized) for energy by the mitochondria.

Mitochondria are often referred to as the “power house” of cells where en- ergy is produced.

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The actual process of how carnitine shuttles fatty acids to the mitochondria is fairly complex and detailed. Suffice it to say, it involves several enzymes and steps before the fats you want to burn end up being utilized by the mitochondria.

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So, the carnitine shuttle system is essential for the body to be able to burn fats as energy and this is why companies sell carnitine as a “fat burner.”

What does the research say?

Studies that have focused on weight loss in people using carnitine test ethanate vs cypionate as a supplement are few and conflicting.

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There are far more studies that look at carnitine as a sports and energy enhancing supplement, with some studies suggesting carnitine may help endurance athletes.

In animals, some studies have found increases in the use of fat for energy with high dose carnitine supplementation, but human studies are mixed, with some showing effects on endurance while others find no effect.

The difference may be dose and or the nutritional status prostatitis and receptivity control the of the athletes being tested. Doses used are generally high, in the multi-gram range (2000

mg-5000 mg) and higher.

Carnitine does appear to have real health uses and is even listed in the pro hormone pills Physicians Desk Reference (a.k.a. the PDR) for certain pathologies involving the heart.

Many alternative doctors swear by it for that use. Carnitine may also help reduce cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol.

Acetyl-l-carnitine in particular has potential uses as an “anti-aging” supple- ment.

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A number of animal experiments have shown improvements in mitochondrial function reduced by aging. It also appears to have neuro-

protective and cognitive effects. Both acetyl-l-carnitine and propionyl-l- carnitine have been used as experimental therapies for erectile dysfunc- tion and fatigue associated with male aging.

There a couple of studies that indicate l-carnitine might have some uses for recovery. In one study, untrained subjects taking 3 g of l-carnitine/day for 3 weeks, experienced less muscle damage and dietary supplements for male potency rating of the bodybuilding pain following a session of eccentric exercise, relative to a placebo group. In the second study, recre- ationally weight trained men receiving 2 g of l-carnitine-l-tartrate/day for 3 weeks showed less muscle damage after performing a squat protocol (5 sets x 15 – 20 reps).

What does the real world have to say?

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L-Carnitine has been disappointing as a fat loss nutrient. Acetyl-l-carni- tine has a reputation as a “nootropic”, and some swear by it for improving overall mood and focus.

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I do not know anyone who has tried carnitine as a recovery nutrient, so feedback on this use is lacking.


Although it may very well have potential health benefits in certain people, carnitine’s performance improving and “fat burning” abilities are question- able until more conclusive research is carried out.

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