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Weight Loss Supplements: Carnitine

By on Sep 25, 2011

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Weight Loss Supplements: Carnitine

Carnitine is an amino acid that helps the body turn fat into energy. This amino acid helps to move fat that lives outside the cells inside the cells, where it is used for burning to produce energy. Due to this property, it is not surprising that carnitine has become a popular weight loss and sports supplement.

Carnitine is required to carry long chain fatty acids into the mitochondria (part of the cell which is required for energy production), so that they can be metabolised into energy. Carnitine is an important supplement for the heart as this organ uses fatty acids as a source of energy.

This amino acid is not considered to be essential, as it is produced in the body, although a number of conditions can lead to a deficiency. A deficiency in carnitine can occur when there is a lack of the amino acids lysine and methionine in the diet. People who are lacking in vitamin B6, C and iron are also likely to be deficient in carnintine.

Recent studies have found that carnitine is important in converting stored body fat into energy, reducing angina attacks, improving heart health, lowering cholesterol levels and maintaining liver health.

Carnitine deficiency has been related to a number of heart conditions including angina, arrhythmia and heart failure. This amino acid may also benefit general heart health by reducing the build up of fatty acids. These fats build up within the cell and bloodstream as triglycerides and cholesterol. Supplementing with carnitine can greatly reduce levels of triglycerides and cholesterol, while improving the ratio between HDL (good) and LDL (bad) cholesterol. The increase in HDL (good) cholesterol levels is an important factor in preventing heart disease.

Carnitine also promotes the antioxidant action of vitamins C and E. It can therefore be used as part of an anti-ageing programme alongside these vitamins.  Carnitine can be obtained from food, but mainly from meats, and other animal sources. It is not found in vegetable protein. Vegetarians are therefore likely to be deficient in this amino acid.

The typical daily dose of carnitine (available as l-carnitine) is between 500-1000mg. This should be taken on an empty stomach for maximum benefit.

Please consult your doctor if you are currently taking prescription medication. Certain medicines can actually cause a deficiency in carnitine.