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L-Carnitine: A nutrient that turns fat into energy
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L-Carnitine: A nutrient that turns fat into energy

 

L-Carnitine

A nutrient that turns fat into energy.

As Y2K rapidly approaches, there inevitably will be much reflection upon the extraordinary discoveries, events and inventions of the 20th century. L-Carnitine was first discovered by scientists in the early 1900s and fits perfectly into the category of extraordinary discoveries. Indeed, LCarnitine is a discovery that will benefit mankind for centuries to come.

L-Carnitine is an amino acid-like and vitamin-like nutrient that occurs naturally in the human body. The primary function of L-Carnitine in the body is to facilitate the production of energy from fat, a process that requires the transport of long chain fatty acids into the cell’s mitochondria for betaoxidation (fat breakdown). The mitochondria is a part of the cell frequently referred to as the "engine of the cell" since this is where energy is produced. Long chain fatty acids, however, are unable to cross the inner mitochondrial membrane and this is where L-Carnitine comes to the rescue. L-Carnitine enzymatically links to the fatty acids and shuttles them successfully across the barrier. Once inside the mitochondria, the fatty acids are broken down and ultimately cellular energy is produced. Thus, L-Carnitine is essential for turning fat into energy!

The human body can naturally synthesize L-Carnitine in the liver and kidney. In addition, L-Carnitine is found in foods, principally those of animal origin. So why is there a need for supplementation? Quite simply, because numerous clinical studies have shown that to reap the health enhancing benefits of this nutrient, L-Carnitine is needed at levels above those normally obtained through the diet and endogenous synthesis.

Numerous clinical studies have reported upon the beneficial effects of L-Carnitine supplementation.

Cardiovascular Health:

In the light of the fact that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., maintaining cardiovascular health should be a high priority for each and every one of us. L-Carnitine is essential for the mechanical functioning of the heart because this organ obtains approximately 70% of its energy requirement from the breakdown of fat Although L-Carnitine typically is marketed as a dietary supplement and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) therefore restricts claims to those associated with supporting a healthy cardiovascular system, studies conducted on L-Carnitine’s role in the management of cardiovascular conditions provide substantiation in support of dietary supplement claims. Perhaps one of the most astounding results of L-Carnitine supplementation in terms of cardiovascular health comes from a 1992 clinical study (Drugs Exp. Clin. Res.) which involved 160 individuals diagnosed as having suffered a recent heart attack. It was found that L-Carnitine supplementation (4g/day for one year), in addition to the routine pharmacological treatment, resulted in a remarkable and significant reduction in mortality: 1.2% in the L-Carnitine group, as compared to 12.5% in the control group. Extensive clinical research has demonstrated that L-Carnitine is helpful for people with angina (the temporary chest pain that occurs when the heart muscle is not receiving enough oxygen), arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat) and heart failure. In addition, there is evidence to indicate that L-Carnitine is helpful in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. By helping to support healthy heart function and to maintain healthy cholesterol levels, L-Carnitine is a useful ally in the quest for cardiovascular health.

Sports Nutrition:

From a performance standpoint, L-Carnitine is rather unique in that it is beneficial for both endurance-trained athletes and "weekend warriors." In endurancetrained athletes, L-Carnitine supplementation<