Carnitine: Converting Fat into Energy
Your body, with the help of a powerful nutrient, can burn fat to create energy. Exciting new research keeps pouring in about the powerful fat-blasting abilities of the vitamin-like nutrient carnitine. Most people only get about 50 mg. of carnitine in their daily diet but this is not enough for optimal health and it is insufficient to cause weight loss. The body can make this important nutrient from other nutrients we consume like lysine, methionine, vitamin C, iron, niacin, and vitamin B6, so it’s technically not an essential nutrient; however, a deficiency in any of these nutrients can cause a deficiency in carnitine, which may explain why carnitine deficiency is quite common. Some of the symptoms of a carnitine deficiency include: excess weight, fatigue, heart problems, and high levels of triglycerides.
In a recent study, participants were divided into two groups: those that ate healthy and exercised moderately in one group and those that ate healthy, exercised moderately, and supplemented with two grams of carnitine daily. The results were astounding. Those who supplemented with carnitine lost an average of 11 pounds while the former group lost only 1 pound in 12 weeks.
Carnitine also powers up your endurance so if you’re exercising you’ll start to notice that you can walk longer or work out longer without getting as tired. You’ll need to supplement with at least 500 mg to feel a difference and to reap the fat-burning benefits. Some people don’t notice the difference until they take 2000 to 3000 mg daily. Choose carnitine tartrate for the best results, since it is the purest and most effective form of the nutrient. It’s best taken early in the day on an empty stomach, ideally before breakfast. [Always consult your medical professional who oversees your treatment regimen before changing it.]
Health-e-Solutions comment: Carnitine is required for the transport of fatty acids from the cytosol into the mitochondria during the breakdown of lipids (fats) for the generation of metabolic energy. Insulin resistance, which plays an important role in the development of type 2 diabetes, may be associated with a defect in fatty-acid oxidation in muscle . This raises the question as to whether mitochondrial dysfunction might be a factor in the development of the disease. Increased storage of fat in lean tissues has become a marker for insulin resistance . Early research suggests that supplementation with L-carnitine intravenously may improve insulin sensitivity in diabetics by decreasing fat levels in muscle and may lower glucose levels in the blood by more promptly increasing its oxidation in cells [1-3]. A recent analysis of two multicenter clinical trials of subjects with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes found that treatment with acetyl-L-carnitine (3 grams/day orally) for one year provided significant relief of nerve pain and improved vibration perception in those with diabetic neuropathy. The treatment was most effective in subjects with type 2 diabetes of short duration .
- Mingrone G. Carnitine in type 2 diabetes. Ann NY Acad Sci 2004;1033:99-107.
- De Gaetano A, Mingrone G, Castagneto M, Calvani M. Carnitine increases glucose disposal in humans. J Am Coll Nutr 1999;18:289-95.
- Mingrone G, Greco AV, Capristo E, Benedetti G, Giancaterini A, De Gaetano A, Gasbarrini G. L-carnitine improves glucose disposal in type 2 diabetic patients. J Am Coll Nutr 1999;77-82.
- Sima AAF, Calvani M, Mehra M, Amato A. Acetyl-L-carnitine improves pain, nerve regeneration, and vibratory perception in patients with chronic diabetic neuropathy: an analysis of two randomized placebo-controlled trials. Diabetes Care 2005;28:96-101.