L-Carnitine is made in the body from the amino acids lysine and methionine, and is needed to release energy from fat. It is required for the transport of fatty acids from the cytosol into the mitochondria during the breakdown of lipids (fats) for the generation of metabolic energy.
In situations of high energy needs, the need for L-Carnitine can exceed production by the body and, therefore, L-Carnitine is considered a “conditionally essential” nutrient.
Dairy and red meat contain the greatest amounts of L-Carnitine. Beef steak, ground beef, pork, cod fish, and chicken breast are great sources but energy drinks and various other products such as nuts and sunflower seeds contain Carnitine as well. For vegetarians, beans, peas, artichokes, asparagus, and broccoli are the best sources but amounts are significantly lower and supplementation may be necessary. However, Carnitine deficiencies are rare, even in strict vegetarians, because the body produces Carnitine relatively easily.
Carnitine is primarily used for heart-related conditions such as congestive heart failure but it has also been used to support anemia, attention deficit–hyperactivity disorder, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
In addition, L-Carnitine can help in the treatment of type II diabetes and for people with kidney disease. Kidneys produce Carnitine and kidney disease may lead to the deficiency of it in the body.
The latest benefit associated with L-Carnitine is weight loss. Recent studies have shown that L-Carnitine supplements may help with weight loss because it has the ability to reduce fat mass and increases muscle mass.
Note: according to Health Canada, supplements containing L-Carnitine cannot be marketed as “natural health products” and, consequently, supplements are not allowed to be imported into Canada.
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