As we get older, Carnitine is another one of those unpopular and non-vitamins that our body needs more of for metabolic energy. Carnitine is required for our cells to transport fatty acids from the cytosol into the mitochondria during the breakdown of lipids (fats) for the generation of metabolic energy. Carnitine however, is widely available as a nutritional supplement. Carnitine is biologically active in L-carnitine while D-carnitine is biologically inactive.
It has been suggested that there may be a tie between dietary use of carnitine and atherosclerosis. There is an indication that it also may lower the danger of mortality and arrhythmias after an acute myocardial infraction.
When various types of intestinal bacteria are exposed to carnitine from food, they create a waste called trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), which is related to atherosclerosis. In a long-term rich meat diet, large amounts of TMAO-producing bacteria was found. Then studies compared the levels of carnitine and TMAO to the risk of cardiovascular problems and found a higher risk with higher TMAO levels then the independent levels of carnitine.
Lower levels of TMAO were found in diets of vegetarian and vegans who only ate a single meal of meat than the regular meat-eaters. That’s because there were lower levels of the intestinal bacteria that converts carnitine into TMAO.
Effects On Bone Mass
As we grow older, carnitine diminishes in cells which affects fatty acid metabolism. For the most part this really adversely affects the bones.
The bones need to maintain bone mass and to do so require a continuous reconstructive, metabolic function of osteoblasts.
The carnitines exert a substantial antioxidant action, thereby providing a protective effect against lipid peroxidation of phospholipid membranes and against oxidative stress induced at the myocardial and endothelial cell level.
Possible Health Effects
Carnitine is now being used as a supplement to treat a variety of health problems including heart disease. It has been known to boost energy levels, treat valproate poisoning, repair fatty acid metabolism, used in weight loss, improve exercise performance, aid in the recovery of type II diabetes, just to mention a few results in the use of carnitine.
The highest concentrations of carnitine are found in red meat and dairy products. Carnitine can be found at significantly lower levels in many other foods including:
- legumes or pulses
- bee pollen
- brewer’s yeast
In general, 20 to 200 mg are ingested per day by those on an omnivorous diet, whereas those on a strict vegetarian or vegan diet may ingest as little as 1 mg/day.
No advantage appears to exist in giving an oral dose greater than 2 g at one time, since absorption studies indicate saturation is at this dose.