Carnitine is found naturally in the human body and is responsible for converting fat stores into energy to be used by muscles. Increasing your levels of carnitine can result in improved athletic performance and physique by reducing body fat and increasing muscle mass.
Carnitine can also be used in conjunction with traditional medical treatments for people suffering from a wide range of conditions such as heart disease or other cardiovascular problems, as well as kidney disease, overactive thyroid, and fertility problems in males.
What is Carnitine?
Carnitine is a type of amino acid produced naturally in the body by the liver and kidneys. It is found in high concentrations in red meat, and at lower levels in dairy products, cod fish and numerous vegetables.
For those who cannot produce enough carnitine or have difficulty consuming enough to meet their requirements, supplements may be useful in preventing a carnitine deficiency. For athletes and recreational gym goers, carnitine can help increase energy levels and muscle development, as well as promote fat loss.
There are two main types of carnitine: L-Carnitine and Acetyl-L-carnitine. Both these types of carnitine are safe when taken as oral supplements in dosages between 500 and 1,000 mg per day.
Carnitine health benefits
- Improved athletic performance and endurance
- Muscle growth
- Bone mass growth
- Fat loss
- Increase in levels of mental clarity and alertness
- Improvement of a range of heart conditions such as angina, congestive heart failure, and circulation problems
- Prevention of heart attack reoccurrence
- Improvement of red blood cell count in people with kidney disease
- Reduction of symptoms associated with an overactive thyroid gland
- Increased sperm count in males with fertility problems
Carnitine supports energy
Carnitine increases energy and stamina levels by encouraging the body to burn fat as fuel, saving the glycogen stores in the liver until they are absolutely necessary.
Taking carnitine supplements gives the muscles additional energy they would otherwise not have access to, which results in increased stamina and endurance in aerobic activities. Other positive effects are a reduction in muscle fatigue and a decrease in recovery time, all of which will help you feel more energized as you go about your day.
In addition to the physical effects, carnitine benefits mental alertness and concentration. Studies have shown that carnitine can also help prevent age related cognitive impairment.
Carnitine and weight loss
Carnitine can speed up weight loss and help your body burn fat quickly by transporting energy from fat stores to be consumed by your muscles.
When you increase carnitine levels, you increase the speed and efficiency with which your body burns fat. It also increases stamina and endurance levels, meaning you have the energy to burn more calories and undertake longer, tougher workouts on a more regular basis.
Carnitine can also help reduce levels of dangerous, visceral fat stored around the belly. This results in lower levels of cholesterol and decreases the risk of developing atherosclerosis, also known as clogged arteries.
Carnitine and the cardiovascular heart
In addition to conventional treatments for heart conditions, carnitine can be a useful supplement for a range of cardiovascular health issues. Carnitine benefits those suffering from angina and can help reduce chest pain during exercise.
Studies have also shown that the intake of carnitine supplements shortly after a heart attack can reduce the risk of another one occurring. Carnitine assists in reducing cholesterol levels and can help protect against the development of heart disease.
Carnitine can also be used as a treatment for other conditions of the heart and blood vessels such as circulation problems, congestive heart failure, myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) and complications from diphtheria.
Carnitine for exercise and recovery
Taking a supplement of carnitine reduces levels of muscle fatigue and soreness associated with undergoing a strenuous exercise or gym routine. This results in a decrease in the required recovery time between workout sessions and can help you achieve your strength and fitness goals much more quickly.
Studies have shown that a carnitine dosage of 1000 mg per day is effective in improving levels of muscle stress markers hypoxanthine, xanthine oxidase, myglobin, and general inflammation and soreness levels in response to strength training exercise. (See: http://www.nutritionexpress.com/article+index/protein/showarticle.aspx?id=1034)
Who may benefit from taking a Carnitine supplement?
- Professional athletes and bodybuilders
- Recreational gym goers
- People who wish to lose weight
- People wanting to reduce levels of visceral body fat
- People with heart disease
- People who have recently suffered a heart attack
- People with angina
- Vegans or vegetarians with reduced dietary intake of carnitine
- People with serious kidney disease
- People with overactive thyroid glands
- Males with fertility problems
Does Carnitine have any side effects?As it occurs naturally in the body carnitine side effects are unlikely. There is however a risk of carnitine capsules causing nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach upsets if taking doses over 5g.
Carnitine interactions and combinations
Carnitine interacts with prescription drugs used for the treatment of thyroid and kidney conditions. Carnitine should not be taken with the thyroid hormone replacement drug Thyroxine. Carnitine also interacts with blood thinners Warfarin and Acenocoumarol.
Carnitine dosage and recommendations
Carnitine dosage depends of the condition it is being used to treat. It is generally taken in the form of carnitine capsules.
- For general health and fitness, including increasing muscle mass, 2000 mg to 4000 mg daily.
- For L-Carnitine deficiencies, chest pain and congestive heart failure, a dose of 1000 mg two or three times per day is recommended.
- Following a heart attack, a dose of 2000 mg to 4000 gm daily.
If you are taking carnitine for athletic performance, the best time to take a dose of the supplement is immediately post-workout in combination with a high-carb, high-protein refueling meal.
Why take a Carnitine supplement?
- Improve your performance in the gym
- Heighten your physical stamina and endurance
- Increase muscle and bone mass
- Increase the body's ability to burn fat efficiently
- Reduce muscle soreness and tissue damage from strenuous exercise
- Reduce recovery time between workout sessions
- Enhance energy and mental clarity throughout the day
- Prevent heart disease and heart attacks
- Reduce the risk of dying of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart)
- Improve red blood cell counts in people with serious kidney disease undergoing hemodialysis
- For those with an overactive thyroid gland, reduce the hyperthyroid symptoms of fast heartbeat, anxiousness and weakness
Other names of Carnitine
Other names for carnitine include L-Carnitine, L-Carnitina, L-Carnitine Fumarate, L-Tartrate, L-Carnitine Tartrate, Levocarnitine Fumurate, Carnitine, Carnitor, D-Carnitine, DL-Carnitine, DL-Carnitine, trimethylammonium hydroxide, Vitacarn, and Vitamin B.