L-Carnitine

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Carnitine is a quaternary ammonium compound that supports mitochondrial functions. It transports long-chain fatty acids into mitochondria for beta-oxidation to release intermediates used in aerobic mitochondrial respiration.

Skeletal and cardiac muscle tissues contain high levels of carnitine because of their reliance on fatty acids for energy production. Thus, supplementation may augment skeletal and cardiac muscle functions.

High levels of carnitine are found in red meat such as beef and pork. In general, carnitine deficiency is rare. However, malnourished individuals, alcoholics, preterm or premature babies, people with chronic kidney disease, and people with some genetic conditions such as defects in carnitine transport system may not make enough carnitine, necessitating supplementation.

Some meta-analytical studies demonstrate improved cardiac function of heart failure patients on carnitine supplementation. Also, preliminary research suggest carnitine supplementation may improve symptoms of type. 2 diabetes.

The Federal Drug Administration approves the use of L-carnitine supplementation in the treatment of secondary deficiencies as may result from inherited conditions.

Pros:

Deficiency is rare, except in a few people with some underlining conditions.

Cons:

Given its role in transporting substrates into mitochondrial to boost mitochondrial functions, carnitine is positioned to at least help maintain cardiac and skeletal muscle health since they rely heavily on fat metabolism for energy. However, research is needed to validate this conclusion. Also, being so much enriched in red meat makes vegans have to rely on food supplemented with carnitine to obtain normal levels.

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