Two Key Benefits of L-Carnitine: Energy and Healthy Aging
Carnitine is an amino acid that is synthesized in the liver and kidneys—and concentrated in the body’s most metabolically active organs: the brain, heart, and muscles. Its primary job is to transport fatty acids into the mitochondria, where they’re burned for energy.
Young, healthy people produce all the carnitine they need. However, levels may be depleted by kidney and liver disease, genetic defects, valproic acid (an epilepsy drug), cancer—and advancing age. Declines in mitochondrial function are a significant underlying cause of the energy drain associated with aging, and carnitine plays an essential role in increasing energy production. Therefore, it’s not surprising that deficiencies in this amino acid are associated with fatigue, loss of muscle mass and increase in body fat, mental and physical slowdown, and frailty.
This leads to an obvious question. Could replenishing carnitine stores with nutritional supplements delay or reverse some of the adverse effects of aging?
L-Carnitine Puts Pep in Your Step
Clinical trials of supplemental L-carnitine have yielded consistently positive results in terms of self-reported physical and mental fatigue, ability to exercise, and improvements in body composition—particularly when the study subjects are older and/or have documented carnitine deficiencies. Here’s an example.
Italian researchers enrolled centenarians, who fatigued easily and had impaired strength and mobility, and gave them either 2 g of L-carnitine or placebo capsules daily. After six months, no significant changes were noted in the placebo group. Those who took L-carnitine, however, gained an average of 8.4 pounds of muscle mass and lost four pounds of fat. Mental and physical endurance improved, and they gained an average of four points on the 0–30 scale of the Mini-Mental State Examination, a common test of memory function.
Now you can see why I’m so enthusiastic about the health benefits of L-carnitine. If 100-year-olds can have such remarkable turnarounds, just imagine what it could do if you started taking L-carnitine in your 60s or 70s, when carnitine concentrations begin to plummet?
L-Carnitine Offers Extraordinary Cardiovascular Support
L-carnitine's efficacy in heart disease was confirmed by a meta-analysis published recently in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Researchers analyzed 13 placebo-controlled studies involving 3,629 patients with a history of heart attack. Compared with placebo, L-carnitine reduced angina by 40 percent, dangerous ventricular arrhythmias by 65 percent, and death by 27 percent.