Carnitine is a type of quaternary ammonium salt, deriving from amino acids. It is a Latin word meaning flesh as the compound was originally a part of the meat. They are essential for energy production in our body as they transport long-chain fatty acids to mitochondria to be converted into energy. Thus they briefly work as a fuel to produce energy. Carnitine is a term for various compounds like L-Carnitine, acetyl-L-Carnitine, etc. However, in this article we will cover only one type namely L-carnitine.
L-carnitine like any other compound of carnitine plays an essential role in energy production, as a transporter of fatty acids. It is biologically produced by the liver and kidneys in our body from amino acids like lysine and methionine. Excess of L-carnitine produced is stored up in the kidney for later use and can be removed through the urine. Some people with certain genetic issues face a problem in producing a sufficient amount of L-carnitine, thus it is also available in the form of supplements since it is a form of essential amino acid required by the body. However, enough amount of carnitine can be produced naturally in the body by increase the Vitamin C and meat intake.
In addition to its primary energy production function, it is also beneficial for various other reasons. The secondary function of L-carnitine is to remove waste products from the cells in order for them to function properly. Besides these, L-carnitine has the below-mentioned health benefits.
1. Improved Heart health
Studies show that L-carnitine supplements improve the functioning of heart and blood circulation reducing heart-related diseases like a heart attack or failure.
2. Cancer treatment supplement
People going through chemotherapy are known to become deficient in L- carnitine and suffer from fatigue and weakness. Consumption of supplements is known to reduce such symptoms.
3. Beneficial for Type 2 Diabetes
L-carnitine is known to reduce blood sugar levels to a healthy required level. Thus, the patients are often advised to add L-carnitine supplements to the diet to reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
Additionally, studies show that L-carnitine also increases a certain enzyme called AMPK, which improves the body’s capability of using carbohydrates thereby reducing the chances of diabetes. However, along with the benefits, certain minor side-effects of L- carnitine are also known to exist. Mostly, digestion issues like nausea, diarrhea is common people consuming the supplements. High levels and prolonged consumption of L-carnitine supplement might prove harmful for your cardiovascular system. Therefore, it is often suggested that a person should consult a doctor or dietician before he starts with the intake of L-carnitine supplement in case it is not being produced naturally as well as insufficient amounts by the body.