Carnitine is an amino acid that comes in several forms, including acetyl-L-carnitine, L-carnitine, and propionyl-L-carnitine. The Latin word carnus means "meat". Eating meat is the most important way to get carnitine in our diet. Our body stores carnitine in skeletal and cardiac muscle tissue. functional medicine thyroid doctors
In general, acetyl-L-carnitine (also known as ALCAR) is the form considered most beneficial to the brain; it crosses the blood-brain barrier and research has shown it to be potentially beneficial for people suffering from various neurodegenerative diseases.
L-carnitine is the form considered most beneficial for muscles. It has been shown in research to relieve muscle weakness and pain. It is commonly used in dietary supplements designed to improve athletic performance, optimizes fat-burning, and aid muscle recovery.
Propionyl-L-carnitine has been studied for circulatory problems such as high blood pressure or peripheral vascular disease. Research has shown that carnitine supplementation helps reduce fatigue in hypothyroid patients and improves muscle weakness in hypo and hyperthyroid patients.
Carnitine provides these health benefits by supporting the health of our mitochondria (powerful energy factories found in most of our cells) in several ways:
Carnitine transports long-chain fatty acids to the mitochondria where the fatty acids are burned to produce our body's energy (in the form of adenosine triphosphate - ATP).
Carnitine carries the toxic byproducts of our body cells (produced during the energy production process mentioned above) so that toxins do not build up.
Degradation of mitochondria can occur when too many toxins (also known as free radicals) accumulate; this causes delayed energy production and results in less energy. It can also cause poor muscle metabolism and other negative health effects.
As a powerful antioxidant, carnitine neutralizes the accumulation of free radicals (oxidative stress). Our mitochondria can also be affected by other types of free radical formation. Chronic stress, environmental toxins (like heavy metals), or a lack of protective antioxidants (like vitamin C) can compromise mitochondrial health.
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Carnitine helps minimize this buildup by scavenging free radicals and maintaining and protecting levels of key antioxidant enzymes like glutathione peroxidase.
Hypothyroidism and fatigue
In research published in 2016, when hypothyroid patients were given levothyroxine, the extra thyroid hormone promoted the synthesis of carnitine. However, the scientists found that there was still a lack of carnitine in these patients. The researchers hypothesized that while the elevated thyroid hormone increased carnitine synthesis, it also accelerated the oxidation of mitochondrial fatty acids (similar to what is observed in a hyperthyroid state), lowering carnitine levels. So essentially more was produced, but even more was expelled, resulting in continued shortages. It turns out that this can cause a relative lack of carnitine, which can result in persistent fatigue.
Symptoms of Overmedication
Symptoms of overmedication include fast or irregular heartbeat, nervousness, irritability or mood swings, muscle weakness or tremors, diarrhea, menstrual irregularities, hair loss, weight loss, insomnia, pain chest pain, and excessive sweating.
It is highly recommended that do not start, change, increase, decrease or stop your treatment without consulting your doctor.
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