L-carnitine, or carnitine, is an amino acid, one of the substances that proteins are made out of. L-carnitine is an antioxidant, a molecule that gives one of its electrons to a free radical molecule. This prevents the free radical from stealing electrons from other structures in the body like DNA and damaging them.
L-carnitine’s other task is to help the body use fat for energy. Like most other amino acids, L-carnitine can be made by the body. The kidneys and the liver produce it and it’s stored in the the brain, the heart, the skeletal muscles and sperm cells.
L-carnitine is given as a supplement to people who don’t make enough of their own L-carnitine and to people whose store of L-carnitine doesn’t work the way it should. Diseases like heart disease can leach the body of L-carnitine as can some drugs like chemotherapy drugs. Some athletes use supplemental L-carnitine because they believe it improves their performance. People who suffer from fatigue use it because they believe it boosts their energy level. It’s important, however, for patients to see their doctor if they’re thinking about taking L-carnitine for a medical condition.
Among the conditions that supplemental L-carnitine is used for are:
- Cardiovascular disease
In some studies, L-carnitine seems to be effective when treating heart attack, heart failure and angina or chest pain.
- Male Infertility and Erectile Dysfunction
L-carnitine seems to increase low sperm count and help male performance. One study found that it helped men who were on Viagra and others who were suffering the side effects of prostate surgery.
- Disorders Of the Peripheral Vein
L-carnitine has been shown to ease the pain of intermittent claudication, which is caused when the blood flow to the legs is reduced.
- Diabetic Neuropathy
This is a complication of diabetes. The disease injures the nerves in the body and causes the patient to feel both numbness and pain. L-carnitine seems to be able to ease these symptoms. Some research suggests that it can help regenerate the damaged nerves.
- Overactive Thyroid
L-carnitine may also be able to treat the symptoms of hyperthyroidism. However, people who have hypothyroidism might want to avoid L-carnitine since it suppresses thyroid hormone.
L-carnitine can be bought at the drug store in capsule form, but if it’s being used to treat a specific condition, it might be prescribed by a physician or even taken intravenously. Foods that are rich in L-carnitine include beef steak, which has 95 mg per 100 g, ground beef which has 94 mg per 100 g, pork, bacon and tempeh, a fermented soybean product.
Did someone say bacon? Make this bacon milkshake and get your L-Carnitine with every sip. [recipe here]
How do you get your L-carnitine on? Share in the comments below!