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Natural Health from A to Z
Wednesday, April 22, 2009 • Posted April 22, 2009

L-carnitine is an amino acid that acts like a B vitamin. L-carnitine is made by the body from the amino acid l-lysine along with various vitamins and minerals. Its main function is to provide energy at the cellular level by transporting certain fatty acids to the cells.

L-carnitine increases the use of fat for energy. This helps prevent fatty buildup, especially in the heart, liver and skeletal muscles. L-carnitine lessens the risk of heart disorders, inhibits fatty liver and reduces certain health risks of diabetes.

There have been several, very positive studies on l-carnitine. These include reducing damage to the heart from heart surgery and reducing the pain caused by intermittent claudication, or artery blockages that reduce the supply of blood and oxygen to the legs. L-carnitine has also been shown to reduce heart arrhythmia. Another study showed that acetyl l-carnitine helped relieve neuropathy.

Because l-carnitine improves fat metabolism, it lowers triglycerides and LDL cholesterol while increasing HDL cholesterol. It is also used for weight loss. L-carnitine helps to mobilize fat and convert it into muscle. L-carnitine also helps reduce fatigue from exercise and improves recovery time.

L-carnitine has great anti-aging properties. Every cell in your body – whether it is a brain cell, immune cell, or heart cell works better when it has optimal energy available to it. L-carnitine helps provide energy to the cells, helping them live longer.

The acetyl l-carnitine form helps protect nerve cells from stress and deterioration and may help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. This form of l-carnitine also naturally increases energy to the brain and helps relieve depression. Several studies have shown increased memory and better ability to solve complex problems when taking acetyl l-carnitine.

Although the body makes l-carnitine, deficiencies can occur, and in certain instances, demand for l-carnitine exceeds the body’s ability to make it. Deficiencies of iron, vitamin C, vitamin B6 or l-lysine cause deficiencies of l-carnitine. Deficiencies of l-carnitine are commonly associated with diabetes and heart disease. The typical dose is 1-3 grams per day. The best l-carnitine is trademarked Carnipure and can be in the tartarate form or the acetyl l-carnitine form. L-carnitine fumarate is also good.

Margaret Durst is a naturopathic doctor who owns The Green House, a vitamin, herb and health food store in Mason, Texas.

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