Weight loss supplements are always popular, but we want to make sure they meet two criteria. They need to be effective and safe. Though most supplements are safe, a few of them in past have been taken in excess and have caused health problems. This is why I am always recommending carnitine to patients who are interested in weight loss. It has been shown to be safe and it has many benefits beyond improving fat burning. Carnitine is an amino acid that is necessary for the use of fat as an energy source in our mitochondria, the energy production organelles of our cells. I recommend carnitine before exercise for patients who are trying to lose weight because it may help with fat burning during exercise. Carnitine has also been shown to improve exercise intensity and recovery time, partially because it leads to lower lactic acid levels during exercise.
Because it helps with our energy production, carnitine has many benefits beyond contributing to a healthy weight loss plan. Since the muscles in the heart predominantly use fats for fuel, carnitine aids proper heart function. Carnitine may help heart issues such as mitral valve prolapse, arrhythmias, angina, and elevated cholesterol. In addition, proper carnitine levels prevent the production of harmful fatty acid metabolites that can disrupt cell membranes in the heart contributing to impaired heart contractions and possible tissue damage. Another form of carnitine, acetyl-carnitine offers great brain support. It has been shown to have an activity similar to acetylcholine, a key brain chemical for memory. This has led to its use in supporting mood and memory in the elderly and helping improve focus in children. Carnitine also increases the synthesis of nerve growth factor, which makes it a possible intervention for diabetic neuropathy.