Carnitine is an amino acid derivative synthesized in the human body (liver and kidney level), and is produced from two amino acids: Lysine and Methionine, in the presence of Vitamin C, Iron, Niacin and Vitamin B6.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and are known for their essential functions and characteristics within our bodies.
L-carnitine can be obtained from certain foods or oral supplements and is a key element in the production of body energy.
Among its many functions we emphasize the support it has in the process of conversion of fat into energy and in the transport of fatty acids in the cell’s mitochondria.
As a nutrient, L-Carnitine is not one of those components that we can define essential or essential, as the body could typically be able to survive without it. In fact, most people can get L-carnitine from their diet regimen, however, some individuals may suffer from a deficiency of L-carnitine, in which case, supplements are crucial for the well-being and performance of individuals, whether they are sportsmen or not.
In addition to being a support in the production of energy, L-Carnitine tends to help other physiological functions such as, for example, the reduction of the probability of specific disorders and in favor of regular general brain function.
What benefits does L-Carnitine have?
Carnitine plays three key roles in the body:
- A part of carnitine is responsible for transporting long-chain fatty acids to the mitochondria. There, fatty acids undergo oxidation or combustion for energy production.
- The other part of carnitine deals with toxic compounds and waste, transporting them from the mitochondria to prevent the accumulation of unwanted substances.
- Carnitine acts as an energy source, for example, for heart and skeletal muscles, which use fatty acids as food fuel.
Carnitine also plays a key role in cellular metabolism. It has been proven that it expresses antioxidant capabilities in vitro. Carnitine can fight the adverse effects of aging. It does this by improving the production of oxidants in mitochondria and other mitochondrial functions that have declined due to aging.Scientific research shows that tissue concentration levels of L-carnitine decrease with age in both animals and humans. In one of these studies, 2 g of L-carnitine helped to improve muscle function and reduce stress levels in older subjects.
Largely, the level and quantity of L-Carnitine in the body is affected by just how much and what a person eats. As a result, levels of L-carnitine tend to vary among people and eating habits.
Can L-Carnitine improve the performance of physical exercise?
In terms of the effects of L-carnitine on sports performance, there is mixed evidence.
Some studies reveal that there are mild benefits related to "consistent" long-term doses. Therefore, the fact remains that the benefits of L-carnitine (as well as those of other supplements), can be indirect and take longer to be extremely visible, for example weeks, unlike supplements that can directly affect sports performance (such as creatine and caffeine), but certainly not less for the systemic effects on the well-being and health of the person who uses it.
L-Carnitine could increase sports performance in the following ways:
- Recovery: can improve muscle recovery times after exercises, promoting relaxation and decreasing pain.
- Muscular oxygen supply: may increase oxygen flow to muscles.
- Resistance: the blood flow is increased therefore the production of nitric acid will also increase, thus reducing fatigue and delaying discomfort.
- Production of Red Blood Cells: L-Carnitine can affect the creation of red blood cells, which are necessary for the transport of oxygen through the muscles and the body in general.
The recommended standard dose for L-carnitine is between 500-2,000 mg daily.
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