Let’s talk supplements. Before we go into any detail we need to reiterate that supplements are exactly that; SUPPLEMENTS. The definition being “an element added to something else in order to complete or enhance it”. It is not a stand-alone entity.
Now that’s been clarified, a very common supplement I have been asked about a lot in my decade of training clients regards the consumption of carnitine for performance or enhanced results.
Let’s break this down even further because, well…science.
L-carnitine and acetyl-L-carnitine are the two that many fitness enthusiasts purchase that are available over the counter. The function of both is to assist in mitochondrial function (mitochondria being the battery pack of the cell) so we can deduce that carnitine as a supplement would be used for an energy and performance enhancing purposes. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, acetyl-L-carnitine is more readily absorbed in the small intestine and therefore also crosses the blood-brain barrier more efficiently. The high presence of an acetyl group facilitates the production of the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine that is responsible for carrying signals across the nerve synapse (welcome back to the nervous system, friends!). Therefore, making it possible for you to contract your muscles in order to move and lift those heavy objects off the floor and back down again, repeatedly.
Another handy piece of brain knowledge regarding the production of acetylcholine involves passing on messages in various regions of the brain that control memory and cognition. So, you will find many elderly clients may take acetyl-L-carnitine as a supplement to manage cognitive function and memory.
As pretty much all protocol is, regarding taking supplements, carnitine is only recommended that they are taken if there is a primary or secondary carnitine deficiency syndrome (that’s for another post!)
With regard to taking the supplement to enhance sports performance or weight loss, like most sports supplements, there is no consistent evidence supporting enhanced ability or weight loss so more research is required for any conclusively.
If there’s any topic you’d like me to discuss feel free to comment below!
Until next time,
Yours in health and fitness,