Carnitine is an amino acid that is produced inside the liver and the kidneys of the human body itself, from the amino acids lysine and methionine. The substance can also be obtained from foods such as meat and dairy products. Approximately 98% of the body’s carnitine deposits is found in muscle tissue.
L-Carnitine is responsible for the transport of fatty acids into the mitochondria, which are cell compartments where fat is oxidized and energy is produced. An increase in energy production contributes to an increase in resistance, which makes carnitine an imperative supplement for anyone striving to optimize performance in sports. As it stimulates the oxidation of stored fat, and keeps fat entering the body from being stored, carnitine helps reduce the percentage of fat body mass and improve muscle definition. The amino acid is a valuable ally when following any kind of weight-loss diet.
Besides optimizing the energy production process, this amino acid stimulates the use of fat deposits instead of glycogen for the production of energy, which helps save the muscle glycogen reserves. It helps minimize the production of lactic acid by the muscles during intense physical exercise. The build-up of lactic acid and the emergence of muscular acidosis are important factors that lead to muscle soreness and fatigue, and in that sense, taking an L-carnitine supplement helps prevent muscle damage and accelerate the muscle recovery process. L-carnitine supplementation can be exceptionally helpful in case of athletes, whose L-carnitine needs are greater, as well as older people, because the endogenous L-carnitine production tends to diminish with age.
Carnitine contributes to the proper functioning of the cells and muscles, including the heart muscle. Its effects stimulate blood flow and help prevent cardiovascular problems, especially those related to the blood vessels and the heart rate. Due to the increased transport of fatty acids into the mitochondria, this amino acid can also be beneficial to those with high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It helps diminish the levels of lipids in the blood, thus also reducing the risk of developing heart conditions.
There are reasons to believe that carnitine helps regulate insulin resistance, and as a consequence also blood sugar levels, a possible benefit for the treatment of pre-diabetes.
The actual carnitine levels are controlled by the renal system. Excess carnitine is easily eliminated via the kidneys, through urination. As the substance helps the body get rid of toxins, it is also useful in the process of detoxification.