Carnitine is an amino acid that helps carry lipids from the bloodstream into the mitochondria, which are the small, cellular ”powerhouses” that make energy. You can compare carnitine to a doorman that allows fat to enter the cells where the fat is then converted into energy.
The body is able to make carnitine from certain amino acids, iron, vitamin C and B vitamins.
Most carnitine is concentrated in our muscle tissue, especially in the hard-working heart muscle. As we grow older, carnitine concentrations drop.
Carnitine is also found in red meat (especially beef, lamb, and game). Carnitine originates from carnis that means meat in Latin.
The carnitine concentrations in red meat is 18 times higher than it is in fish and chicken and nearly 600 times higher than in a vegetable like asparagus.
Interesting studies with carnitine supplements and athletes
Most people who exercise or are physically active one way or another have experienced sore muscles. American scientists from the University of Connecticut showed in a study of 18 men and women that carnitine is able to significantly reduce tender muscles. Blood samples also showed that the participants who had taken carnitine had fewer biochemical signs of muscle damage.
Physical training increases carnitine concentrations in the different tissues.
It appears that carnitine can improve your performance, especially when it comes to stamina, where fat combustion plays a determining role.
Carnitine and supplements
Carnitine supplements are not recommended for slimming purposes.
However, combined with a balanced diet, they may increase the turnover of fat to some extent.
Carnitine supplements may also benefit sportspeople, patients with a weak heart muscle, and possibly individuals with chronic fatigue.
Many people get too little carnitine from their diet or lack the nutrients, which the body needs to produce carnitine on its own.
The normal carnitine dosage for supplementation is 250 mg per day
It is important to make sure to take the natural form of carnitine (L-carnitine)
Congenital life-threatening disease may be helped by carnitine supplementation
Some people suffer from a rare, congenital, potentially life-threatening lack of ability to synthesize carnitine. The disease, which is known as Carnitine Transporter Deficiency (CTD), is a fairly common ailment in the Faroe Islands and has resulted in many deaths among children and youngsters. With timely diagnosis of the disease, it can be treated with the use of carnitine supplementation.