If you are a Vegan, like me, it is hard to admit that we need some supplements of the stuff that is in "meat". Since Humans are originally Omnivores and not Herbivores, it is necessary to investigate this. Science is evolving, as are we!

Carnitine; essential for energy production.  

If you need to use strong physical
effort in your dailly life, you
might want to take in some extra
Carnitine.
As I wrote before; searching for more information about non-protein amino-acids on vegan websites didn't give me a lot of result. I just wanted to know the importance of it, knowing direct sources of amino-acids are mainly non-vegetable foods.
I only found the few sentences on Veganhealth under non-protein amino acids; 'If you are a vegan who started getting migraines after becoming vegan, you might consider talking to your health professional about carnitine supplementation.'
 Do we want to wait for that and aren't there other reasons why we need carnitine?


Why so little information?

Carnitine is manufactured naturally in the body through the synthesis in human kidney and liver of the essential amino acids lysine, methionine, iron, and vitamins B6 and C .
Lysine can be found in cereal grains and pulses (legumes). Methionine in sesame seeds, Brazil nuts and other plant seeds, also in spinach, potatoes and boiled corn.
 So again there shouldn't be a problem to get these amino acids and vitamins in a vegan diet, though I read on different pages that vegans and vegetarians most probably do need an extra source. Can our body not manufacture itself all that we need every day (1-2 grams)?

Direct sources of carnitine include beans, red meats, especially lamb and beef, chicken, dairy products, seafood, tempeh, avocados, wheat germ and whey. It might be interesting to compare the amount of carnitine that we actually find in these sources;

productamountcarnitine
beef steak100gr 95mg
bacon100gr23,3mg
tempehhalf cup19,5mg
cod fish100gr5,5mg
chicken breast100gr4mg
American cheese100gr3.8mg
whole milk150ml3.4mg
avocado1medium2 mg
whole wheat bread100gr0.4mg
white bread100gr0.15mg
peanut butter100gr0.08mg
eggs100gr0.05mg


Importance of L-Carnitine

L-carnitine promotes normal growth and development, that's why we find it in fortified baby milk. It increases the use of fat as an energy source by transporting fatty acids into the mitochondria, where they are ‘burned’ to release energy for body functions.

It is said that L-carnitine treats and possibly prevents some forms of cardiovascular disease. It protects against muscle disease and many bodybuilders use it to help them to build up there muscles. It also protects against liver and kidney disease and diabetes.
Further it is promoted as an aid in dieting. It may make low-calorie diets easier to tolerate by reducing feelings of hunger and weakness.

Deficiency

Deficiency of L-carnitine might be relatively rare, with the exception of those born with metabolic errors in which carnitine becomes deficient (through kidney failure). A lack of L-carnitine may also occur at some level in long-term vegetarians, vegans, or those on protein-restrictive diets. Deficiency may also arise from taking certain pharmaceutical drugs such as zidovudine (for treatment of HIV) and isotretinoin (for severe acne and other skin conditions).

Symptoms of L-carnitine deficiency; muscle fatigue, cramps, or low blood-sugar levels.
Other(though not fully proven); heartbeat irregularities in someone who has had a heart attack, premature aging and angina.

Additional amounts of L-carnitine is needed when protein or amino acids are short in the diet (since these are needed to be synthesized by the body). Also by premature infants, children, pregnant or breast-feeding women who are vegan or vegetarians, people with kidney failure on hemodialysis and people with recent severe burns or injuries do need a good source of L-carnitine.


Synthetic options

I am not convinced in the necessity to take an extra L-carnitine supplement, I think it is better to make sure that an every day vegan meal must contain plenty of protein and amino acids and to eat a few times a week avocado and tempeh.

If you do decide to take a carnitine supplement, here you find some vegan options;
Solgar 250mg vegicaps and 500mg tablets vegicapsules.
NOWFoods 3oz powder.
myprotein.co.uk per 100gr Acetyl L-carntine (cheapest option).

Always consult your doctor before taking supplements.
 Don't take if you; are allergic to any food protein, such as eggs, milk, wheat and if you are pregnant, think you may be pregnant or plan pregnancy in the near future.

Problems in breast-fed infants of lactating mothers taking small or usual amounts have not been proved. But the chance of problems does exist. Don't use unless prescribed by your doctor.

Signs and symptoms of over dosage; muscle weakness.
Side effects reported when taking L-carnitine (either orally or intravenously) include; nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, heartburn, body odor, and gastrointestinal (GI)distress. 



Sources;
micro magnet (picture)
mitochondrial
Supplement News
Vegan Fitness
Vitamins-Nutrition
Wikipedia

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2 reactions: to “ Carnitine; essential for energy production.

  • Anonymous
    May 25, 2009 at 5:05 PM  

    Add to this the fact l-carnitine BECOMES an essential amino acid in times of exceptional stress, such as surgery, accidents, pregnancy.

    "Essential amino acids" are those the body cannot manufacture on its own in sufficient amounts.

  • Mark Roper
    September 17, 2012 at 5:33 PM  

    As someone who is nearly Vegan myself I see the temptation to store wall to wall vitamin bottles and potions in the hope of avoiding conditions such as iron, D3 or B12 deficiency. It would be nice to get all our Vegan requirements from readily available sources without resorting to this sort of thing.

    Thank you to the creator of this web site by the way, for providing me and like minded people with your information.

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