Carnitine, also known as L-Carnitine, is a naturally occurring nutrient that is produced in the kidneys and liver. This nutrient helps convert fat into energy and has thus obtained a reputation as a viable supplement for weight loss and exercise enhancement. The body typically produces sufficient amounts of L-Carnitine for its needs. However, some people, particularly those suffering from certain heart and liver conditions, may need to supplement their intake of L-Carnitine.
L-Carnitine was first identified by Russian scientists in 1927 but it would be another four decades before the physiological significance of this complex amalgam of amino acids was understood. L-carnitine is created when lysine and methionine encounter iron, niacin and vitamin B6 in the liver or kidneys. These organs typically produce all the L-Carnitine the body requires and any insufficiency can usually be made up through a diet that includes red meat, dairy products and certain fruits and vegetables such as avocados.
According to a report by the University of Maryland Medical Center, L-Carnitine has been shown to be effective for the treatment of certain symptoms of angina. L-Carnitine supplementation may alleviate chest pain allowing angina sufferers to participate in certain exercises. The medical centre warns that patients should never self-medicate for chest pain with L-Carnitine or any other substance. L-Carnitine should only be used along with other conventional treatment under the direct supervision of a qualified physician.
Male Sexual Health
Some studies show L-Carnitine supplementation may have positive results in treating male infertility and sexual dysfunction. In men with low sperm counts, supplementation has shown to increase both the number and motility of sperm. L-Carnitine supplementation has also proved effective in the treatment of erectile dysfunction in certain groups of men, particularly those suffering with diabetes.
According to a report by the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, preliminary studies on rats indicates L-Carnitine supplementation may have a positive anti-ageing effect. Improved systems include the heart, brain, skeletal system and muscles. Trials on humans have not yet been conducted and results will probably not be known for several years.
Because L-Carnitine is essential for converting fat to energy, numerous products that contain the nutrient claim to increase energy and burn fat. Enhanced performance and rapid weight loss are the claimed results. However, according to reports from the University of Maryland, Oregon State University, Vanderbilt University and others there is no scientific evidence that supplementation with L-Carnitine has any significant effect either as an energy booster or weight loss enhancer.