What if there were a nutrient that helped increase your energy, aided your weight loss efforts, increased your immune function, and helped enhance your mental faculties… plus, lowered your cholesterol and triglycerides? Wouldn’t it be wonderful? Well, it does exist! It is called L-Carnitine.
L-Carnitine is a vitamin-like nutrient that provides all the above mentioned benefits, and much more! It is a substance that occurs naturally in the body. It is not well known, and is often overlooked, by folks interested in supplementing their diet with beneficial nutrients. It has no contraindications or toxicity. Most adults consume about 50 mg daily in a “balanced” diet, and this is not considered enough by natural health practitioners. Vegetarians often consume no L-Carnitine in their diet. They need it even more than those that consume foods that contain animal proteins. L-Carnitine occurs predominantly in animal protein foods. The body produces L-Carnitine naturally from lysine, methionine, Vitamin C, Iron, B3 and B6; so technically it is not considered an “essential nutrient.” L-Carnitine is not, however, produced by the body in large enough amounts to achieve the full benefits that can be derived by supplementing L-Carnitine.
L-Carnitine is essential for body fat burning and, therefore, for weight loss. L-Carnitine is part of the mechanism that transports body fat from the body to the mitochondria. Mitochondria are the physical components in our cells by which body fat is “burned” by diet and exercise…. so we obviously want to enhance this process! Once the fat is transported into the cell’s mitochondria, it is converted into energy for the body. L-Carnitine’s support of this process is the reason for it’s benefit with regard to weight loss and the increase of energy levels!
Robert Craydon, M.S., author of “The Carnitine Miracle” says, “Don’t expect carnitine alone to help you magically shed pounds. But combine carnitine with the right diet and exercise program, and 500 to 2000 mg per day can go a long way towards promoting healthy and permanent weight loss. Carnitine becomes particularly essential for anyone on a low carbohydrate diet.“1
Dr. Mary Eades, M.D. in describing carnitine says, “The clearest role for carnitine in your body is in burning fat for energy. In order to burn fat (or fatty acids, really) for fuel in muscle, heart and liver tissues, the fatty acids must get into the mitochondria, little powerhouses of chemical activity inside the cells. Carnitine works to carry these molecules of fat into the mitochondria to be burned there. Without sufficient carnitine, the fat molecules are denied entry into the mitochondrial furnace and return to the blood, causing an increase in triglycerides.”2
L-Carnitine also promotes an increase in the “good” cholesterol (HDL) helping to keep coronary arteries free of plaque. It can also help lower blood pressure.
Robert Craydon, continues, “For weight loss and general immune enhancement, begin with 500 mg, preferably on an empty stomach, in the morning before breakfast. I usually do not recommend more than 3 grams per day, and 500 mg to 2 grams per day is fine for most needs. Carnitine should not be taken before bed, as it can increase energy levels and may prevent sleep.”3
Carnitine comes in two general forms, L-Carnitine and D-Carnitine. “D” and “L” refer to the orientation of the chemical molecule. The “D,” or “dextro” molecule is rotated right. Changing the rotation often changes its chemical properties. This is the case with D-Carnitine. It is not recommended for human consumption, and does not occur naturally in foods, as does L-Carnitine.
L-Carnitine also enhances liver function. Since the health of the liver is basic to overall physical health, this is indeed, an important benefit!
“L-Carnitine, when taken as a dietary supplement by endurance-trained athletes, has not only a stimulating effect on fat metabolism, but also acts positively on certain immune parameters, thus stabilizing the immune system.” (German Journal of Sports Medicine. 1992.)
“The function of L-Carnitine is to serve as a vehicle for the transfer of fatty acids, to be followed by beta-oxidation. Interruption of the normal function of L-Carnitine leads to fatty liver, fatty muscle, and neurological symptoms. These disorders might be correctable by a supplement of the appropriate nutrient. Thus L-Carnitine should be added to the growing list of conditionally essential nutrients.” (Symposium on Conditionally Essential Nutrients. 1986.)
“We investigated the effect of L-Carnitine supplementation upon athletes. After three weeks body fat decreased significantly whereas body weight remained constant.” (German Journal of Sports Medicine. 1993., emphasis mine.)