Carnitine: An Amino Acid for Generating Energy - dummies

Carnitine: An Amino Acid for Generating Energy

By Christopher Hobbs, Elson Haas

The amino acid carnitine plays a role in metabolizing fat and producing energy. Red meats are the primary dietary sources of this nutrient. It is an extra amino acid not found in your body tissue, but you can manufacture it from lysine.

Over the past few years, carnitine has received tremendous interest from both professional athletes and sports enthusiasts as an aid for increasing energy and performance. Studying carnitine is a major focus of clinical research right now: It may be helpful in treating chronic low-energy ailments like chronic fatigue syndrome, and also for weight loss.

Taking both vitamin C and lysine can enhance the production of carnitine in the body.

Key uses of cartinine include:

  • Carnitine is important to the heart and helps convert fats to energy within the mitochondria — your cells’ energy factories.

  • Carnitine is involved in metabolizing and using fats and oils in the body, as well as transporting fatty acids into muscle cells. Fatty acids are an important energy source for your muscles, which is why some sports nutritionists recommend carnitine to improve workouts.

  • Clinicians recommend carnitine for heart disease like congestive heart failure, high cholesterol, abnormal heart rhythms, chronic fatigue and poor endurance, and muscle weakness.

  • The Physicians Desk Reference, published annually by Medical Economics Data, suggests further use of this amino acid for athletic performance, improved fat metabolism, and the treatment of cardiovascular problems caused by restricted blood flow, especially after a heart attack, to help the body repair the damaged heart muscle.

Carnitine is found primarily in red meats, with some levels also present in fish, poultry, and milk. Very little carnitine occurs in plants, so it’s definitely an important supplement for vegetarians. The best vegetarian sources are nutritional yeast or soy tempeh.