To hate is an easy thing to do but to love takes strength everyone has but not all are willing to practice. And the person who loves his own body and practices it, wins the real wealth – Health and an amazing body to reside in! But how to do it? We are here to answer!
Just like the flower that needs sunlight, fresh air and freedom to bloom, our body needs the right nutrition, regular exercise and training, and proper sleep. And there is one more element that could contribute to building a castle for your soul to reside in i.e. Supplements. L-Carnitine is one such supplement. Before, digging deep into what good L-carnitine supplements could do to your body, let us find out what is it and what role does it play in your body.
What is L-Carnitine?
L-Carnitine is a naturally occurring amino acid derivative derived from Lysine and methionine amino acids. It is not considered as an essential nutrient as it is produced in the body itself. But people with genetic disorders or Vegans might be unable to produce a sufficient amount of l-carnitine in their body. In such cases, l-carnitine is considered as a Conditionally essential nutrient.
L-Carnitine is generally found in food substances and can be obtained by including animal products such as meat and fish in your diet. The list of top food sources of L-carnitine is explained in later sections.
L-carnitine plays a crucial role in producing the energy your body needs. L-Carnitine is like a ferry which shuttles fatty acids from the bloodstream into the mitochondria. The Mitochondria, also known as the powerhouse of cells, acts as furnaces which burn the fatty acids and produces the energy your body needs. This is how L-carnitine efficiently and effectively uses fat as fuel and this is the reason why L-carnitine is often considered as a weight loss supplement.
L-carnitine is a standard biologically active form of carnitine that is found in the human body. But do you know there are several other types of carnitine that could offer different health benefits other than weight loss?
Different types of Carnitine:
Each body is unique and so is its requirement. While some might be looking at L-carnitine as a weight loss supplement, some might be looking at it as a sports supplement or a neurological disease treatment. But to decide which type of carnitine is good for what, you need a good amount of knowledge.
D-carnitine is an inactive form of carnitine which has the ability to cause the carnitine deficiency. It could inhibit the absorption of other forms of carnitine which could be more useful to your body.
Being the biologically active form, L-carnitine is used to boost energy in athletes, bodybuilders and also in people suffering from diseases and genetic disorders.
Also called as ALCAR is generally used to improve brain functioning and cognition. This nutrient is possibly the most effective form for the brain. It plays a major role in treating neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease by boosting brain activities.
This type of carnitine plays a role in maintaining blood circulation. It combats any blood-flow related issues such as peripheral vascular disease and high blood pressure.
It is one of the forms of carnitine that is absorbed into the muscles at a rapid rate. Hence, it is used as a common sports supplement. The easy absorption of L-carnitine L-Tartrate helps in soothing muscle soreness and recover from exercise-related fatigue.
Although these forms have a good number of overlapping benefits, there are different forms of carnitine with different mechanisms of action. Ensure to pick the type of carnitine which is best suited for your personal goals. But apart from carnitine supplements, what are the food sources from where your body could get L-carnitine? Let’s find out!
Top food sources of L-carnitine:
It is always best to procure required nutrients from natural food sources. An interesting fact is Food sources of L-carnitine have greater absorption rate than supplements.
Aforementioned, a small amount of L-carnitine could be obtained from your diet when meat and fish are included. Other top sources of L-carnitine are here.
- Beef: 81 mg per 85 g
- Pork: 24 mg per 85 g
- Fish: 5 mg per 85 g
- Chicken: 3 mg per 85 g
- Milk: 8 mg per 227 ml
Benefits of L-carnitine:
Along with being a weight loss aid, L-carnitine also offers numerous health benefits.
Weight loss aid and performance enhancer:
L-carnitine enhances body composition by increasing muscle carnitine levels and improving exercise endurance. It also stimulates the breakdown of fats into energy and speeds up recovery from exercise stress. It also acts as a savior for cells and prevents cell damage and cell death.
Reduces fatigue and disease:
Poor nutrition, aging or disease could cause fatigue. L-carnitine is known to diminish physical fatigue, mental fatigue and also the severity of fatigue by boosting mood and improving the quality of sleep. It also reduces red blood cell deformity and increases the count of red blood cells.
The energy boosting ability of L-carnitine also has the capability to reduce depression symptoms in elderly patients and people suffering from mental disorders.
Acetyl-L-carnitine plays a role in improving the brain functioning. It improves memory in older people and also slows down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by increasing the production of energy and providing the energy to starved brain cells.
Protects against heart disease:
A weak heart fails to pump enough amount of blood, glucose, and oxygen to the body’s tissues. This lack of blood and oxygen to the organs could cause heart attack, stroke or even death. L-carnitine helps in combating such heart conditions by increasing the glucose metabolism & increasing blood flow. It also plays a role in correcting abnormal health rhythms and reducing toxicity.
Strengthens the bone:
L-carnitine might be capable of stimulating bone formation, improving bone turnover, increasing bone density, improving the bone size and bone structure. It also improves the bone mineral content and bone mineral density by slowing bone loss.
L-carnitine has an enormous number of benefits. The other benefits apart from mentioned above are – Helps in improving sexual functioning and treating male infertility, improves insulin sensitivity, improves daytime alertness, Slows down HIV progression to AIDS, improves kidney function, suppress seizures, helps in liver functioning, prevents hyperthyroidism and helps in suppressing the onset of ALS.
As good as it feels to know the benefits of L-Carnitine, it feels scary to know the side-effects the nutrient could pose to the body. But it is always best to be aware of both, the positive and the negative effects, of supplements on your body.
- Taking 3 g of this supplement each day regularly could cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps and nausea. It could also cause seizures and muscle weakness in the person who is prone to heart diseases but these are rare side effects.
- Orally consumed L-carnitine could be metabolized into TMAO by intestinal bacteria. This compound changes cholesterol metabolism and prevents the excretion of excess cholesterol. This builds up the plaque in the arteries. This could, in turn, cause degeneration of artery walls, restricted blood circulation and blood clot which could possibly lead to heart diseases.
- Carnitine is known for its ability to inhibit triiodothyronine and thyroxine entry into the cells. This indicates that for the population who are suffering from hypothyroid, L-carnitine is a No-No.
- It is best for pregnant women to avoid L-carnitine as its effects on pregnancy is still unknown. The other population who has to avoid L-carnitine are the people suffering from kidney failure or the people who are prone to seizures.
If little is good, a lot might not be necessarily better!
Even the basic substances our body needs could be underdosed or overdosed leading to life-threatening situations. To avoid such consequences, it is best to weigh the benefits and side effects and be aware of what you are about to put in your body.
L-carnitine although comes with a package of benefits, it could be harmful when consumed in excess. So, exercise a few precautions and enjoy the benefits of L-carnitine in bodybuilding and in maintaining your overall health.