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.  

9 reactions

If you need to use strong physical
effort in your dailly life, you
might want to take in some extra
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;

beef steak100gr 95mg
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

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 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. 

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Vegan Fitness


Taurine; important building block for the brain.  

10 reactions

Omnivores (Humans) don't make
enough taurine in their own body.
Unlike herbivores, they need
external sources... Originally
Taurine used to be derived from
the bulls testicles. Bulls make
and store a lot of taurine in it.
"Red Bull" a famous
taurinedrink uses a synthetic
source though.
I would like to highlight three non-protein amino acids; Taurine, L-Carnitine and Creatine. These amino acids are not available from direct plant sources. (Direct sources are; meat, fish, milk and eggs.) Though they should be part of a daily vegan diet, they are easily forgotten due to a lack of information.
The only small article I found on the web, from the vegan websites I know, is at VeganHealth. They are linking to an article related to Carnitine deficiency. I would like to start with an introduction about Taurine.

Why so little information?

Probably because at first there shouldn't be a problem for most vegans:
Adults can produce taurine by a combination of cysteine with the help of pyridoxine = B6, methionine and vitamin C.
Cysteine is found in red peppers, garlic, onions, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, oats, granola and wheat germs. B6 in whole grain products, vegetables, and nuts. High levels of methionine can be found in sesame seeds, Brazil nuts and some other plant seeds. Significant amounts can be found in spinach, potatoes, and boiled corn.

Since these sources are normally without any problem part of a vegan diet, the following groups either do not produce taurine by themselves and/or need additional amounts because they do not produce enough to their needs:

    * Premature infants.
    * Children.
    * Pregnant or breast-feeding women who are vegan/vegetarian.

As an adult if;

    * Your body does not make enough due to inadequate intake of calories, protein or nutritional dietary. (Especially when cysteine, methionine or B6 is deficient).
    * You are deficient in the enzyme needed to make taurine. Found in (natural) sources such as brewer's yeast, eggs, milk, fish and red meat.
    * You have candida. Which causes you lose taurine through you urine.

Importance of Taurine

Taurine, an amino acid (in short; building blocks for protein), is not part of our muscle protein yet is important in metabolism, especially in the brain. It maintains cell membranes, regulates heart beats and protects the heart from calcium overload.

Especially mothers or future mothers should know that taurine is the highest concentrated amino acid in the brain of the fetus and newborn. The fetus must obtain it through the placenta, newborns through breast milk or infant formula fortified with taurine; however, the amount in these substances is considered inadequate for infants.

There is no Recommended Daily Allowance (yet) for taurine, to give you an idea from what I have read in several sources*: Infants and small children need about 27-58mg per kilogram of bodyweight.

Parents or future parents should be aware of the importance of taurine since (moderate) deficiencies may lead to; slowed growth and low levels of essentials proteins in blood.
Eventually severe deficiencies may lead to; apathy, depigmentation of hair, edema, lethargy, liver damage, loss of muscle and fat, skin lesions and weakness.

(Other non-proved reported symptoms; anxiety, depression, hypertension, hypothyroidism, gout, infertility, obesity, kidney failure and autism).

Synthetic options for taurine

Solgar 500mg vegicaps
Via Veganfitness we found the cheaper option for sale at myprotein.co.uk.

Always discuss with you doctor, before just taking these supplements, about your own specific needs.

There are no known toxicity levels for taurine; however, excessive levels may cause diarrhea and peptic ulcers.