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- Why carnitine is good for you
- Important carnitine facts
- Groups at risk of carnitine deficiency
- Symptoms of carnitine deficiency
- Carnitine and health
- Carnitine in foods
- Carnitine recommended daily intake (RDI)
- Carnitine works best with
- Overdosage, toxicity and cautions for carnitine
Carnitine is really not an amino acid, but because it is structurally similar to amino acids, it is normally classed with amino acids, and is also known as vitamin T. Carnitine is used in energy supply within cells and muscles and assists in preventing fatty build-up in areas such as the heart, liver, and skeletal muscles.
- Carnitine is available as D-carnitine, L-carnitine, DL-carnitine as well as acetyl-L-carnitine, but L-carnitine is the most popular type.
- L-Carnitine is synthesized from the essential amino acids lysine and methionine, but enough vitamin B1 (thiamine) and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) must be available
- Men normally require more carnitine than women, because of their heavier body mass
- Carnitine has also been shown to improve the antioxidant effect of vitamin C and vitamin E
- Carnitine can be manufactured by the body if iron, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), and the amino acids lysine and methionine are available
- Insufficient carnitine will not allow fatty acids to be moved to the right place and the body will eventually wear down, resulting in a person feeling drained and tired
Primarily, carnitine deficiency occurs because of a genetic defect preventing carnitine transport and synthesis. Some groups that may be at risk of deficiency are:
- People on low protein diets - people who are not eating enough protein foods may not get enough carnitine in their diet
- Vegans / vegetarians - people who are on a strict vegetarian diet may suffer from a carnitine deficiency if their diet is deficient in protein
A deficiency of carnitine may present with the following symptoms:
- heart pain
- muscular weakness
- Diabetes - carnitine reduces the health risks posed by poor fat metabolism associated with diabetes
- Immune system - some studies indicate carnitine may improve endurance in people weakened by disease, and boost an immune response in people who are HIV-infected
- Heart health - the heart is highly dependent on carnitine, and taking it in supplement form is currently being explored as an option for speeding recovery after a heart attack as well as for treating angina (chest pain), arrhythmia (irregular heartbeats), and congestive heart failure.
Talk to a medical professional about carnitine supplements BEFORE taking it.
Carnitine can be found primarily in:
- Red meats
Less carnitine is available in tempeh (fermented soybeans), wheat, and avocados. Vegetables and grains contain very little carnitine.
|RDA||No information available|
|TOLERABLE UPPER LIMIT||400mg-3000mg|
|TOXIC LEVELS||> 3g per day|
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
- Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
- Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E (Tocopherol)
- Folic Acid
No known effects of toxicity but supplements in excess of 3g carnitine per day may cause diarrhea and/or "fish odour" syndrome.
- Osiecki H, Meeke F, Smith J, The Encyclopaedia of Clinical Nutrition - Volume 1: The Nervous System, BioConceps Publishing QLD 2004
Last reviewed: 11 January 2007 || Last updated: 26 September 2007