Carnitine was found in meat extracts at the beginning of the 20th century, already, and its chemical structure was discovered in the subsequent decades. However, it was only in the second half of the century that the importance of this substance for providing energy for the muscles was realized and investigated. Carnitine is important for the transport of the fatty acids to the mitochondria, the «power plants» of the cells. Without the necessary «fuel» for the mitochondria, the provision of energy does not work.
All cells of the body, in particular the muscle cells and here again mainly the heart muscle with its continuous load, are dependent on a constant supply with fuel.
Therefore, a deficiency in carnitine can be observed in all cells on account of the impairment of their natural functions. Muscle cells have the highest need for energy and, consequently, they contain most of the carnitine.
The main food source of carnitine is meat, and to a lesser extent also milk and milk products. As a rule, healthy persons – even if they eat vegetarian food – do not suffer from a deficiency in carnitine as the body itself can synthesize carnitine from protein-building substances. This synthesis, however, may be impaired in case of chronic diseases (diabetes, diseases of the liver, etc.).
And especially in case of these diseases it is often recommended (for other reasons) to eat a diet containing only little meat.
Carnitine improves the provision of energy in the cells, in particular in the cells of the muscle tissue. Particularly cells which suffer from a lack of oxygen or from another kind of impairment cannot produce carnitine in sufficient quantities themselves. Therefore, organs with a preexisting chronic damage derive the greatest profit from an additional carnitine intake.
What goes on in the entire body in case of chronic diseases can also happen on a small scale in individual cells or tissues subjected to stress caused by contaminants or lack of oxygen. The result can be a transient and locally restricted deficiency in carnitine which makes the cells particularly susceptible to stress and can lead to a vicious circle of reduced energy provision and slowed carnitine production.
Sufficient energy provision is not only decisive for the muscle cells. Positive effects of carnitine on the nerve cells in the brain, on liver cells and on sperm are discussed. A well-balanced energy household allows the cells to purify themselves, to deal with foreign substances, to reduce fat, and finally to fulfill all their physiologic functions.
The most important indications are derived from the effects described and the various diseases where states of deficiency can occur in individual organs:
General condition: Carnitine helps to convert fat to energy. This leads to an increase in performance and well-being since the body has more «fuel» at its disposal. In addition, carnitine has antioxidative properties and helps the body to reduce cell-damaging free radicals, which are responsible for numerous diseases and probably also for the aging process. A further positive side effect is that carnitine, by converting stored body fat, also helps to reduce weight.
Cardiovascular diseases: Diseases of the heart are the main fields of application of carnitine. They include circulatory disturbances of the heart such as angina pectoris, conditions after a cardiac infarction, cardiac insufficiencies of any causes, and cardiac irregularities. Carnitine improves the blood fat values by lowering the cholesterol and triglyceride levels and by increasing the HDL cholesterol level (the «good» cholesterol). These actions already have a preventive effect against cardiovascular diseases since they reduce the calcium deposits in the vessels. By supporting the oxygen supply of the cells, carnitine also has a direct protective effect on the heart. An optimized oxygen supply of the heart is of particular importance as it is a muscle that is under continuous stress and therefore is in particularly great need of oxygen.
Neurological diseases: Carnitine seems to have a direct influence on acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter which is essential for many brain functions. This can be assumed just on account of the fact that their chemical structure is similar. It was therefore obvious to administer carnitine in Alzheimer’s disease, which is caused by a deficiency in acetylcholine. The results were very encouraging. Carnitine, given to patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease at an early stage or at a progressive stage, achieved very good successes. By its effect as an antioxidant it stabilizes the brain cells, increases the energy yield and can take over almost all functions of acetylcholine. Also in case of senile depression, which is partly caused by altered biochemical processes in the brain, the administration of carnitine proved to be successful.
In chronic diseases of other organs, for instance cirrhosis of the liver, carnitine could at least be tried in support of other measures.
Chronic diseases of the sugar and fat metabolisms are other areas of indication.
Lastly, the supportive administration in sports medicine during the training for any kind of endurance sport should also be mentioned as an established application.
One capsule contains 500 mg L-carnitine in pharmaceutical grade. Other ingredients: magnesium stearate, SiO2.
In normal cases take 1 – 2 capsules 1 – 2 times a day with plenty of fluid. Often a combination with coenzyme Q10 proves to be practical.
No side effects have been observed at the given concentrations.
Generally a specialist should be consulted before taking food supplements. This is especially true in cases of chronic disease and regular intake of medication. If you experience symptoms while taking carnitine you should consult a doctor and inform the doctor of the intake. Store in a cool, dry place and keep out of reach of children.