L – Carnitine transports fatty acids across the cells and into mitochondria wherein they generate energy via citric acid cycle. Carnitine deficiency and any genetic disorders in the enzymes involved in the metabolism and proper function of carnitine lead to symptoms such as muscle weakness especially during exercise, decreased blood sugar level, high blood ammonia level, and increased propensity to myoglobinuria. See “Post – Exercise Rhabdomyolysis” under the section of “Athletic Disorders”.
The best food source of L – Carnitine is beef followed by pork and tempeh. A very small amount can be found in foods of plant origin. So, vegetarians tend to be low in carnitine.
Athletic Benefits of L – Carnitine:
Potential benefits of L – Carnitine in athletes are:
- Improves athletic endurance.
- May prevent from muscles breakdown after intense exercise or competition.
- Boosts energy level.
- Delays fatigue and tiredness.
- May improve oxygenation especially if combined with flavonoids.
- Alters body composition by decreasing body fat.
- Useful in preparing for competitions wherein “muscle definition” is highly important.
- Promotes mental clarity and cognition especially if combined with Ginkgo Biloba.
- May support recovery from sports injuries.
Non - Athletic Benefits of L – Carnitine:
L – Carnitine may be beneficial in the following conditions:
- Weight management. L – Carnitine is considered a weight loss accelerator, and it also can suppress appetite.
- Anemia resulted from poor kidney function.
- Overdose and toxicity with valproic acid (a medication used in the treatment of epilepsy and bipolar disorder).
- Angina pectoris.
- Congestive heart failure (CHF).
- Peripheral occlusive artery diseases.
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
- Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- Male infertility.
- High cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- Alcohol – induced fatty liver.
- Alzheimer`s disease.
- Liver cirrhosis.
- Intermittent claudication.
- Vegans and vegetarians.
Dosage and Side Effects:
L – Carnitine is usually taken 2000 – 6000 mg per day. The function of L – Carnitine as a shuttle is mediated by an insulin spike. Thus, the best time to take by athletes is immediately after exercise and about 60 minutes before exercise or competition along with carbohydrates. Possible side effects are nausea, vomiting, stomach upset, heartburn, diarrhea, stuffy nose, increased blood pressure, and slight fever. Consuming high doses for a long term might cause the urine, breath, and sweat to have a “fishy” odor.
You should exercise caution when taking L – Carnitine in the following conditions:
- Low function thyroid: L – Carnitine might decrease effectiveness of thyroid hormones.
- Diabetes: it may increase the effectiveness of anti – diabetic medications and cause hypoglycemia.
- Anorexia nervosa: it could suppress their appetite more.
L – Carnitine is not recommended in the following conditions:
- People who take blood thinners, such as warfarin or acenocoumarol. L – Carnitine might increase possibility of bruise and bleeding.