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Carnitine: A Foundational Molecule for Optimal Health

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Carnitine, is proving to be one of the most diverse and revolutionary nutrients on the market today.

You may have heard of different forms of Carnitine. This is because, carnitine is an umbrella term for the different types of carnitine that exists and includes L-carnitine, acetyl L-carnitine and Propionyl L-Carnitine.

Each form has an affinity for certain organs, but the body can convert between the different forms depending on the unique needs of the body at any given time. Despite the system it’s working on the main function of carnitine is energy production.

What is Carnitine?

Carbohydrates, proteins and fats are all used by the body for energy. They go through a series of chemical reactions in the energy factory of the cell known as the mitochondria. The macronutrients, although they go through different pathways, end up producing ATP- which is the universal energy currency of the body.

Fat can only enter the mitochondria and therefore create ATP with the help of carnitine. However, the effect of carnitine on energy production is two-fold. Without carnitine, fat cannot be burned for fuel, but carnitine  also promotes mitochondrial health, which correlates to an increased amount of amount of energy the body can produce.

Historically, carnitine was best known for weight loss due to its role in fat metabolism. Currently due to its potent implications in energy production, it is now being researched for many conditions and optimal health.

Why is energy production important?

ATP, is the energy currency of the body. It is needed for every chemical reaction to happen ranging from thinking and digestion, to movement. When there is a shortage of ATP, meaning the body isn’t making it efficiently we begin to see it reflected in the body.

The heart, brain, kidneys and reproductive organs use the most energy and therefore are most affected when energy production is compromised.

We can also begin to feel fatigued, have troubles sleeping and experience a decrease in immunity.

Modern medicine is looking to mitochondria dysfunction as the root of many chronic diseases. This is because the health of the mitochondria influences the amount of ATP that is produced. Damaged mitochondria also produce a lot of free radicals (molecules that damage tissues), contributing to chronic disease.

Carnitine has several implications in mitochondrial health, that allows for the efficient conversion of fats, carbohydrates and proteins into energy and protects the body from excess oxidative stress!

Is Acetyl L-Carnitine the superior supplement?

When it comes to supplements, research shows that ALCAR exerts a greater effect than L-carnitine. This is due to its superior bioavailability. L-Carnitine supplements have an absorption rate ranging from 14-18%, and they require the presence of glucose. The exact absorption of ALCAR is yet to be determined, but studies show its uptake is considerably higher, and it does not require any other nutrients to enter tissues!

ALCAR also has the ability to cross the blood brain barrier, and therefore it benefits energy production in the brain- the most metabolically active organ in the body.

Since ALCAR can be converted to L-Carnitine in the body, supplementation with a high quality ALCAR has systemic effects throughout the body.

The Benefits of ALCAR

Since carnitine is necessary for fat metabolism, is has several implications is weight management and athletics such as:

- Mobilizing stored fat to be used for energy
- Helping the body become fat adapted
- Increasing the ability to exercise longer and more intensely
- Increases metabolic flexibility (the ability to use both fat and sugar for energy), which is a hallmark of health Aside from weight and athletic performance

In addition to it's implications in weight loss, 

ALCAR is currently being studied for:
- Depression
- Fertility (both male and female)
- Concussions
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Diabetic complications such as neuropathy
- Female hormonal disorders such as PCOS
- Cognitive health, memory and as a nootropic

The research on carnitine aside from weight loss and athletic performance is in its infancy. Although newer, there is an entire body of preclinical trials showing a lot of promise for its implications in modulating the pathological process of many conditions. Likely due to its effect on energy production and mitochondrial health. Lypo-Spheric® Acetyl L-Carnitine, is wrapped in essential phospholipids that allow it to bypass the usual mechanisms as it gets absorbed as a fat. The absorption rate of Lypo-Spheric® products is closer to IV than traditional capsules or pills- making it a first line choice for potent, therapeutic supplementation! In addition, the phospholipids have a neuroprotective effect- magnifying the benefit on cognitive performance in addition to all the other benefits!

Author: Lisa Kowalyk, B.Kin, CNP

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