When it comes to getting in shape, losing body fat and energizing your system, supplements can help you achieve your goals more quickly. Many of them, however, don’t stack up to the hype. One supplement that has been getting a lot of attention recently is carnitine. In this article, we take a dive deep to uncover 4 reasons why carnitine is the real deal.
What is Carnitine?
Carnitine is a nutrient that the human body is able to manufacture from two amino acids:
In order for the body to make carnitine in large quantities, it also requires the presence of vitamin C. Carnitine is also manufactured by animals and so it can be obtained in small quantities from such protein sources as red meat and fish.
Of course, vegans will not be getting carnitine in their diet. As a result, carnitine is considered to be a conditionally essential nutrient.
Forms of Carnitine
The biologically available form of carnitine is known as l-carnitine. Other forms of carnitine are:
- D-Carnitine – this is the inactive form of carnitine.
- Acetyl-l-carnitine – research has shown that this form of carnitine provides maximum cognitive benefits and may help to offset the symptoms of such conditions as Alzheimers and Parkinson’s Disease.
- L-carnitine L-tartrate – this form of carnitine has been shown to have the fastest rate of absorption into the inhuman body. It is the best form of workout recovery and is, therefore, commonly added to sports supplements.
- Propionyl-l-carnitine – this variant of carnitine is best able to help stabilize circulatory irregularities, such as elevated blood pressure. It is also believed to be able to increase the body’s nitric oxide production, which dilates blood vessels.
The main role of carnitine in the body is to participate in the energy production process. It acts as a transporter of fatty acids into the mitochondria of the cell where it is used for energy. It is also believed that l-carnitine actually enhances the efficiency of the mitochondria.
As we get older, our energy levels naturally decline. The ability of l-carnitine to both transport fatty acids to mitochondria and make that mitochondria more efficient makes it a powerful energy booster. As well as providing you with an energy boost throughout the day, carnitine can give you the pre exercise energy that you need to give your best effort while exercising. It is also able to help speed up post workout exercise recovery.
Carnitine is often promoted as a fat burner. Most fat burners work by increasing the body’s core temperature in order to speed up the metabolism and encourage greater calorie burn. That, however, is not the way that carnitine works. Rather than speeding up the body’s core temperature, it improves the actual process of fat burning by making the mitochondria more efficient. It also carries stored body fat to the muscle cells in order for them to be burned as energy.
A major benefit of carnitine as a fat loss stimulant as opposed to traditional fat burners is that it does not alter how you feel. In contrast, many fat burners produce an artificial ‘wired’ feeling and may be associated with a post energy high crash.
A number of studies have shown that supplementation with carnitine provides heart health benefits. In one study, a group of high blood pressure sufferers who supplemented with l-carnitine at a dosage of 2 grams daily for 3 months had an average drop of 10 points in systolic blood pressure. The control group did not show any reduction in blood pressure.
Carnitine has been shown to boost nitric oxide levels. The effect of this is to dilate the blood vessels, which leads to increased blood flow. As a result of this, oxygen and nutrients are able to more readily flow around the body.
The Acetyl L-Carnitine form of carnitine has the ability to cross the blood brain barrier. This gives it the ability to boost brain health. The ability of carnitine to improve brain functioning is believed to be tied to its positive effects on the mitochondria in our cells. Researchers believe that cognitive decline is related to mitochondria deterioration. The ability of carnitine to improve the functioning of the mitochondria means that it may help to reverse the effects of such conditions as Alzheimers, Parkinson’s Disease and memory loss.