L-carnitine is similar to carnitine, a nonessential amino acid. L-carnitine performs a few of the same functions as carnitine such as aiding in the metabolizing of food to energy. L-carnitine is synthesized in the body from certain amino acids. It is found naturally in dairy products and red meat.
While the main purpose of L-carnitine is converting food into energy, it can also be used for other purposes. These include burning fat, improving muscle fatigue resistance and increasing energy. It is also believed but not medically verified that L-carnitine can fight muscle, liver and kidney disease. It has been shown to help treat some forms of cardiovascular disease. L-carnitine is also a good assist for dieting because it will reduce hunger pains and weakness.
One of the other notable effects of L-carnitine is the possibility for slowing the effects of aging. There have been studies done on rats that were given L-carnitine and it slowed aging in them. It will undoubtedly be some time until those effects are confirmed in humans but it is something to keep in mind.
Since the 1930s studies have been performed on the various properties of L-carnitine. They have shown that its intake can greatly benefit the body's cardiovascular system. There are several studies that show that L-carnitine can be useful in improving heart function and increasing output in addition to improving cardiac performance. As a treatment for heart disease and low energy levels, the FDA approved L-carnitine under the name Carnitor.
If you are deficient in amino acids or protein you could benefit from a L-carnitine supplement. It is fairly uncommon to be deficient but there are some groups of people that have a higher risk of being so.
Vegetarians, children and women who are breast feeding all run an increased risk of being deficient. People who eat very little meat in general could benefit from taking a supplement. There are some tell-tale signs of possible L-carnitine deficiency. Muscle fatigue, cramps, muscle pain, premature aging are all signs.
There are very few side effects. The most common ones include increased blood pressure, faster heartbeats, and fever. If take L-carnitine is take in large quantities diarrhea may occur.
The general dosage for L-carnitine is between two and four grams about one hour before exercise. The supplement usually comes in 250mg and 500 mg capsules.