By Victor A. Vesuna, M.D.
After the holiday season, L–Carnitine will be one of the most favorite fat burning supplements sold in health stores, it is found in many weight loss capsules and even sports drinks, discovered in the early part of the century it has been erroneously classified as an amino acid, in common parlance it stuck – incorrectly.
Carnitine’s effect on the body’s metabolism is so profound, the optimal energy that Carnitine provides is the cell’s equivalent of money, cells can do many things from it, replenish membranes, maintain cell structures including replication.
Carnitine is responsible for transporting fat to the fat-burning furnaces of our bodies called mitochondria, and this is the mechanism on how L- Carnitine works.
Carnitine is not a drug but a natural substance found in the body, our bodies can create Carnitine in small amounts to do so it needs the amino acids lysine and methionine, vitamins B6 and C, if these nutrients are deficient in the diet Carnitine production is also reduced, natural sources of Carnitine include most red meat products and is totally absent in vegetables, hence vegetarians may need this supplement,
For Carnitine supplements to work efficiently the following measures should be observed, reduce sugar consumption, take it on an empty stomach 30minutes before breakfast, and take additional supplements like Omega 3 fatty acids which are found in fish and flaxseed oils this combination improves Carnitine efficiency inside the body. The minimum dose of Carnitine is 1,000mg/day, the available form in most supplement stores is 250 to 500mg. Obtaining this amount in the diet may not be practical since a half kilo of high-quality beef will only yield 81mg, plus the saturated fat that goes with it.
In some institutions abroad, L- Carnitine combined with Coenzyme Q10 has produced beneficial effects for people with congestive heart failure and Hypertension, other diseases in which L- Carnitine is applicable are Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Diabetes, a guidance from a Medical Practitioner is needed if one wants to try this Supplement in the co-management of the above-mentioned illnesses.
A variant of L Carnitine called Acetyl L- Carnitine (called AlCar by some experts) may also be found in food supplement stores this is more expensive and also functions in the same way as ordinary Carnitine but has the benefit of crossing the brain and is beneficial for people with poor memory and can improve mental alertness.
Though generally regarded as safe hypersensitivity reactions in the form of pinprick skin sensations may be experienced by some individuals, large doses of L- Carnitine can also cause insomnia in some people, this is the reason why Carnitine should be taken during the day, it is contraindicated in people with seizures and those with thyroid problems.
In conclusion, Carnitine is not a miracle supplement but is part of the puzzle in weight loss, a sensible diet plan, plus an exercise program will complement the intake of this supplement and help one achieve his or her goals in fitness.
Dr. Vesuna practices Integrative Medicine and Preventive Nutrition for almost 15years
He is a resource person for various Health-related articles in Sports Nutrition and Wellness.
Disclaimer: This article is intended for reference purposes only not as a medical guide to self- treatment, consultation with a Medical Doctor is necessary if one suspects a medical problem. Supplements are not intended as substitutes for any treatment that may have been prescribed by your physician.