Car­ni­tine can help put the pep back in your step, but that’s just the tip of the ice­berg for this ver­sa­tile nu­tri­ent

Amazing Wellness - - CONTENTS -

Spot­light on car­ni­tine; a new rea­son to drink tea; seven ways to use pro­tein pow­ders; and more.

If en­ergy drinks are among your fa­vorites, you may be get­ting some car­ni­tine with each swig, be­cause it’s a pop­u­lar in­gre­di­ent in en­ergy and work­out for­mu­las. And it has many more uses, in­clud­ing im­prov­ing heart func­tion, re­liev­ing leg pain from poor cir­cu­la­tion, help­ing to con­trol blood sugar, restor­ing en­ergy in chronic fa­tigue syn­drome, en­hanc­ing male fer­til­ity, and im­prov­ing mem­ory, mood, and at­ten­tion prob­lems.

Why does car­ni­tine do so many things? Be­cause it’s in nearly ev­ery cell of the hu­man body and en­ables a ba­sic process that keeps us alive and kick­ing: en­ergy pro­duc­tion.

What Is It?

Car­ni­tine is an amino acid named af­ter the Latin word for meat, “car­nus,” since meat is its rich­est food source. It’s clas­si­fied as a “con­di­tion­ally es­sen­tial” nu­tri­ent, which can be a bit con­fus­ing. Es­sen­tial nu­tri­ents, such as ba­sic vi­ta­mins and min­er­als, are those the hu­man body can’t live with­out and can’t make by it­self, so they must be ob­tained from food. In the case of car­ni­tine, our bod­ies can make it from two other amino acids, ly­sine and me­thio­n­ine, but may not make enough.

A rare ge­netic disor­der can in­ter­fere with nor­mal car­ni­tine pro­duc­tion, and some an­tibi­otics and health con­di­tions can im­pair its ab­sorp­tion. In such cases, the de­fi­ciency can be life threat­en­ing or se­verely de­bil­i­tat­ing, and doc­tors pre­scribe car­ni­tine sup­ple­ments.

Un­for­tu­nately, there are no gov­ern­ment-rec­om­mended daily in­takes of the nu­tri­ent to use as a guide­line. But what we do know is that the body needs ad­e­quate amounts of vi­ta­min C, iron, niacin, and vi­ta­min B6, as well as ly­sine and me­thio­n­ine, in or­der to make car­ni­tine. And since most Amer­i­cans don’t eat a per­fect diet, chances are that most of us are lack­ing at least some of these re­quired nu­tri­ents.

How It Works

Car­ni­tine is some­times de­scribed as a fat burner, but that doesn’t mean it’s a weight-loss sup­ple­ment. More specif­i­cally, car­ni­tine en­ables cells to con­vert fat into en­ergy. The heart, for ex­am­ple, needs to burn fat for at least 60 per­cent of its en­ergy, and skele­tal mus­cles and the brain are other big con­sumers of fat as fuel. Equally im­por­tant, car­ni­tine re­moves the toxic by-prod­ucts of en­ergy pro­duc­tion from cells. With­out enough car­ni­tine, en­ergy pro­duc­tion isn’t op­ti­mal.

Two Types

Sup­ple­ments may con­tain l-car­ni­tine or acetyl-l-car­ni­tine, which is more eas­ily ab­sorbed by the brain. In gen­eral, acetyl-l-car­ni­tine is taken for symp­toms re­lat­ing to the brain and ner­vous sys­tem, while l-car­ni­tine is used to en­hance phys­i­cal func­tion, in­clud­ing en­durance and sports per­for­mance, heart con­di­tions, blood ves­sel and cir­cu­la­tion prob­lems, and chronic fa­tigue syn­drome.

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