What is Carnitine?

Carnitine is a compound which is created in the body from amino acids lysine and methionine. It is also found in some foods, and is stored mainly in the muscles, heart, brain and other tissues. Carnitine is available in a number of forms, including l-carnitine, d-carnitine, dl-carnitine and acetyl-l-carnitine. Only l-carnitine and acetyl-l-carnitine are active in the human body, and are the two most common forms found in supplements.

Carnitine's main role within the body is to transport fats into the mitochondria (the cell's energy production centre) where it is used to create energy the body can use.

Where can I get Carnitine from?

Carnitine is naturally synthesized in the liver and kidneys from the combination of the amino acids lysine and methionine. The production of carnitine also depends on having adequate iron, vitamins B1 and B6 available.

Carnitine is found in many foods, particularly beef, pork, bacon, fish, chicken and dairy products. Carnitine is also available as a supplement in capsule and powdered forms.

What are Carnitine's Benefits?

Carnitine supplementation has shown to provide many benefits, including:

  • Improved heart health
  • Improved workout performance
  • Enhanced fat burning ability
  • Improved endurance
  • Enhanced recovery
  • Improved insulin resistance
  • Delaying Alzheimer's
  • Improved immune response

What are Carnitine's Side Effects?

There have been some side effects noted from the use of carnitine, although the majority of them have been experienced at the higher levels of carnitine dosage (over 5g per day). These side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin rashes
  • Seizures (for those with a history of seizures)
  • Aggravating hypothyroidism (for those with the condition)

Who should use Carnitine?

Carntine can be used by people for a number of reasons. Athletes can use carnitine to enhance their workout performance, to recover faster and to burn more body fat. Those with heart issues or with Alzheimer's can use carnitine to assist with their conditions (with the recommendation of their health care professional).

Carnitine Dosage

Experts vary on their recommendations for a daily dosage of carnitine. The general consensus is that between 1-3 grams per day (ideally split over two or three intakes) is ideal as a dietary supplement. Acetyl-l-carnitine is believed to be more bioavailable, and a lower dosage might be adequate. For conditions such as heart disease and Alzheimer's the dosage will vary depending on your specific conditions.

Carnitine Supplements

Carntine is available in a variety of sports supplements, both in blends with other ingredients and on its' own. Some of the more popular carnitine supplements are:

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