Carnitine is an amazing molecule that helps transport fatty acids into our cells, where they can be used as a source of energy.
Many people do not know how vital it is, especially when it comes to our blood health. That’s why we’re going to take a closer look at carnitine and explain why it is important for our blood.
So, if you want to learn more about this nutrient and why your blood needs carnitine, read on!.
What is carnitine and what does it do in the blood?
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Carnitine is a quaternary ammonium molecule that helps the body turn fats into energy. It does this by transporting fatty acids into the cells, where they can be broken down and used for fuel.
Carnitine is found in animal-based foods like meat and dairy, but the body can also make it from certain amino acids.
Some people take carnitine supplements for reasons like improving exercise performance, losing weight, or treating health issues.
In the blood, carnitine acts as a carrier molecule for long-chain fatty acids, shuttling them from the cytoplasm of cells to the mitochondria.
This allows the fatty acids to be used as a source of energy, rather than being stored as fat.
By facilitating the transport and use of fatty acids for energy, carnitine helps keep a healthy balance between energy storage and energy utilization in the body.
Benefits and functions of carnitine in the blood
The main benefits and functions of carnitine in the blood are related to it’s role in the metabolism of fatty acids. Some of the key benefits and functions of carnitine include:
- Transport long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondria where they can be stored as energy
- Uses fat as a source of energy to support weight loss efforts
- Reduces the risk of heart disease in people with angina
- Improves cognitive function
- Treatment of liver and muscle disorders
Is carnitine good for the blood?
Yes. Carnitine has several benefits for the blood, however, the effects of carnitine on the blood can vary depending on factors, such as an individual’s diet, genetics, and health status. Here are some of the reasons why your blood needs carnitine.
Supports heart health
Many studies have investigated the effects of carnitine on heart health. Some studies suggest that carnitine may have beneficial effects on cardiovascular health, while others have reported no significant effects.
One study found that carnitine supplementation improved exercise tolerance and reduced chest pain in people with coronary artery disease.
Similarly, another study found that carnitine reduced inflammation and improved heart function in people with heart failure.
However, some studies have reported no significant effects of carnitine supplementation on heart health. For example, a study of older adults with heart failure found that carnitine did not improve heart function.
In general, the evidence for the effects of carnitine on heart health is mixed, and more research is needed to determine it’s potential benefits and risks.
Improves hematological parameters
Several studies have investigated the benefits of carnitine on hematological parameters, such as hemoglobin levels, red blood cell count, and platelet count.
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study conducted on 42 hemodialysis patients supplemented with 1 gram per day of L-carnitine for 12 weeks showed a significant improvement in hemoglobin levels, red blood cell count, and hematocrit levels.
In addition, the study also reported a decrease in platelet count, which may help reduce the risk of thrombosis in patients with end-stage renal disease.
There have been numerous studies investigated on the benefits of carnitine on blood flow in different populations.
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study conducted on 16 healthy young adults found that acute supplementation with 2 g of L-carnitine increased blood flow and oxygen delivery to working muscles during exercise.
The study also reported an improvement in exercise performance and a reduction in muscle soreness after exercise.
Another study, 26 patients with coronary artery disease were given L-carnitine supplements for 6 months, this resulted in a significant improvement in myocardial perfusion, which is the blood flow to the heart muscle.
The study also reported a reduction in symptoms of angina, a common symptom of coronary artery disease characterized by chest pain.
Supports blood sugar control
Some research suggests that carnitine may have a positive effect on blood glucose levels, helping to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Several studies have examined the effects of carnitine on blood sugar control in various populations.
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study conducted on 60 patients with type 2 diabetes found that supplementation with L-carnitine for 12 weeks resulted in significant reduction in fasting blood glucose levels and hemoglobin A1c, a marker of long-term blood sugar control, compared to placebo.
The study also reported an increase in insulin sensitivity, indicating an improvement in the body’s ability to use insulin to control blood sugar levels.
What foods provides carnitine?
Carnitine is naturally present in some foods. It is commonly found in animal-based products, including:
- Red meat
- Whole grains
Are carnitine supplements available?
Yes, carnitine supplements are available in various forms, such as L-carnitine, acetyl-L-carnitine, and propionyl-L-carnitine.
These supplements are often sold as energy boosters. Here are some examples of carnitine supplements:
- Liquid Carnitine
- Carnitine Gummies
Which specific groups of people don’t get enough carnitine in the blood?
Carnitine levels in the blood can become low for several reasons, and some groups of people may be more likely to have low carnitine levels. These groups include:
- Vegetarians and vegans
- Infants fed with vegan diet
- People with genetic disorders
- People with kidney disease
- People with liver disease
- People taking certain medications such as zidovudine
How much carnitine do you need?
The recommended daily intake of carnitine varies depending on age, sex, and pregnancy status.
Here is a guideline for the average recommended daily intake in milligrams (mg):
- Infants 0-6 months: Not established
- Infants 7-12 months: Not established
- Children 1-3 years: 10-20 mg/day
- Children 4-8 years: 15-25 mg/day
- Children 9-13 years: 25-45 mg/day
- Teens 14-18 years: 50-70 mg/day
- Adults 19+ years: 50-100 mg/day
- Pregnant women: Not established
- Breastfeeding mothers: Not established
What are the deficiency symptoms of carnitine in the blood?
Deficiency of carnitine in the blood can result in a variety of symptoms, including:
- Muscle weakness
- Chest pain
- Congestive heart failure
- Weight gain
- Growth and developmental problems
- Poor exercise tolerance
Which specific medications interferes with carnitine in the blood?
Several medications have been known to interfere with carnitine levels in the blood, including:
- Valproic acid
Is carnitine harmful to the blood?
Carnitine is not inherently harmful to the blood. However, as with any supplement, taking too much carnitine can have side effects.
Some studies suggest that high doses of carnitine can raise levels of trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), a compound that has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and death.
Conclusion: Why your blood needs carnitine
In conclusion, carnitine helps the body’s metabolism of fatty acids, transports long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondria where they are used as energy.
While too much carnitine can have negative effects, taking the right amount can provide many benefits.
For example, carnitine has been shown to enhance physical performance, reduce muscle damage, and speed up recovery after exercise. In addition, it has been used to treat heart disease and liver disease.
Before you take any carnitine supplement, talk to your doctor first to ensure it is safe for you. With the right balance, carnitine can keep your blood healthy, and body functioning at it’s best.
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