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Different health benefits are attributed to L-carnitine, such as the treatment of nerve damage and cognitive impairment caused by disease or by side effects of medications. This might be because of the highly touted antioxidant effects of L-carnitine. Studies have shown promising results regarding L-carnitine benefits, although additional clinical trials might be needed.
L-carnitine is a nutrient created by the body through the synthesis of the amino acids methionine and lysine. It is also present in foods such as red meat and dairy products and is widely available as a nutritional supplement. The role of L-carnitine is to transport fatty acids to the mitochondria, which are structures in cells that supply the body with energy. Deficiency in L-carnitine can lead to cramps, low blood sugar and fatigue.
There seems to be a connection between fatigue and L-carnitine deficiency, so one of the most important L-carnitine benefits might be gained by people who suffer from fatigue, especially that which is connected to ailments such as chronic fatigue syndrome and multiple sclerosis. There's also evidence suggesting that L-carnitine might help treat patients who suffer from angina, cardiovascular disease, impaired kidney function, hypertension and diabetes. In these cases, however, supplementation with L-carnitine must be done only under a doctor's supervision.
Recovering alcoholics could possibly enjoy L-carnitine benefits. Alcohol abuse impairs the liver's ability to handle fat, which can result in a compromised nervous system. Supplementation with L-carnitine might help repair the nerve damage.
Some studies have suggested that L-carnitine can help senior citizens who suffer from depression or reduced bone mass. Other studies have shown a link between L-carnitine supplementation and the improvement of mild symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. These studies have not been conclusive, however, and might need to be substantiated by further research.
Treatments for diseases like human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) can compromise nervous system function and cause muscular deterioration. L-carnitine has shown promise in helping patients regain these functions.
Additional L-carnitine benefits might include helping weight loss along by increasing fat metabolism and muscle mass. Proponents of L-carnitine supplementation also claim that it is an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction. Medical research regarding this claim has shown less-than-conclusive results.
L-carnitine supplementation can interact with certain prescription drugs, including anticonvulsants and anticoagulants. In some people, L-carnitine supplements can cause side effects, including diarrhea and body rash. Anyone interested in deriving L-carnitine benefits and starting a regimen of supplementation should seek the advice of his or her doctor.
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