L-carnitine was first isolated in 1905 by 2 Russian scientists who named it after the Latin word for meat - carnis. But its chemical structure was discovered in 1927. Carnitine was officially used for the first time in sports during the 1980 Olympics.
Benefits of L-Carnitine
The main and most important function of L-carnitine is to transport long-chain fatty acids through the cell membrane in order to reach the mitochondria, where they are used as an energy source for the body.
This is needed because it's very difficult for fatty acids to go through this membrane since it's impermeable. Moving through it becomes sufficiently easier when the fatty acid molecule attaches to the L-carnitine molecule. But the advantages and benefits of L-carnitine do not end here.
Once the molecule of the fatty acid is burned, various kinds of waste products are released from it. At that precise moment, L-carnitine binds to them and takes them back out through the cell wall. As such it becomes clear that carnitine has a dual function - it takes the fatty acid into the cell and takes out unneeded waste products.
Additional intake of L-carnitine in the form of supplements is a common companion in all kinds of weight loss and exercise diets that are intended to aid reduction in body mass. Thanks to carnitine, the body burns fat to get energy; muscle mass is stored, while aches and pains after exercising become much more tolerable.
Taking L-carnitine as a food supplement reduces lactic acid in muscles and improves endurance of athletes; reduces muscle damage after workouts; increases the use of fatty acids by the muscles.
Besides taking it internally, L-carnitine can be used topically, as an important ingredient in cosmetic weight loss products, for tightening and in anti-cellulite programs. Such products are an excellent complement to a healthy food diet and exercise activities.
Sources of L-Carnitine
The greatest amounts of L-carnitine can be found in red meat, smaller amounts are contained in dairy products, while fruits and vegetables have the least amount. Carnitine can be procured from food supplements as well.
Since the body needs to adapt to an increased intake of carnitine, it's advised to take a break in between taking it. It's best to take it 2-3 weeks and then not take it for the same amount of time. Then you can begin taking it once more. The optimal daily doses are between 2-4 g.
L-carnitine starts working 2-3 hours after intake. So it's best to take it 2-3 hours before a workout. Know that on its own, carnitine is not a weight loss pill, instead it helps naturally stabilize and improve the natural fat-burning processes in the body.
Deficiency of L-Carnitine
The main symptoms of L-carnitine deficiency are diminished physical endurance, a faster onset of fatigue, increased fat storage, higher levels of triglycerides in the blood.
There are different reasons for L-carnitine deficiency in the body. Examples include: a lack of micronutrients needed for carnitine synthesis; pregnancy and breastfeeding; disrupted intestinal absorption; vegetarianism and veganism; diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, hyperthyroidism, kidney failure and others.
Dangers of L-Carnitine
Among the most common side effects of L-carnitine are increased blood pressure, quickening of the pulse, fever and diarrhea. Because of this, the optimal daily dose shouldn't be exceeded and the break period needs to be adhered to.