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L-Carnitine

I’ve been taking L-Carnitine supplement for years thinking it was beneficial for me (helps turn fat into energy) & good for my heart. Now, Dr Stanley Hazen of the Cleveland Clinic says that the main culprit (behind heart disease) may be the gut’s metabolism of L-Carnitine –rather than saturated fat. Have I been making things worse instead of better?

Answer:

I am also familiar with the recent comments on L-Carnitine. Unfortunately in todays world it is very difficult to trust much of the science regarding the benefits of supplements. Many of the studies are either funded by the manufacturer of the supplement or are carried out on very small number of subjects, or often only on animals. Researchers will then “look” to find positive results in the studies that they can then make health claims for advertising purposes. Additionally studies have found that the bioavailability of supplements often cannot match the bioavailability of these nutrients in their natural source, i.e. the vitamin E in a capsule may not be as well absorbed as the vitamin E in an Avocado. Isolated chemicals often need co-factors, other nutrients, which create a synergistic effect to impart their health benefits. While consuming olive oil has proven benefits, some suggest that eating olives may be even better as there are other substances present in the olives that are not extracted when the oil is made. There are studies out there for and against L-carnitine, so its difficult to say whether taking your carnitine supplement has been of benefit or not. In my opinion I would not recommend using it at this stage and would focus on eating heart healthy foods that are rich in natural anti-oxidants and other phytonutrients of which there are many out there.

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