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Carnitine Side Effects and Limitations
Carnitine which is sometimes called L-carnitine or acetyl-L-carnitine is used by the body to improve the metabolism of fat and the production of muscle. It is also an antioxidant which may possibly improve or slow down the ageing process. It is also used in the treatment of heart and cardiovascular problems. For these reasons and host of others, carnitine is a very popular supplement or prescription drug.
For most people the amount of carnitine which is found in protein based foods such as meat, dairy products and some vegetables and grains is plenty. But there are also many products available which contain varying amounts of carnitine. For most people around 500 to 1000 milligrams three times a day is recommended.
However as with most supplements, the human body already produces enough carnitine in almost all cases. Some people may be born with conditions which limit their ability to produce carnitine and for them supplementation is essential. For others, higher than required doses may be taken to take advantage of the perceived health benefits. It is also thought that the body produces less carnitine as we get older, making supplementation even more attractive.
Of course, in high does, carnitine can cause some side effects. It is important to keep these in mind if you are considering using carnitine as a supplement. It is considered to be safe when taken as a supplement or as an injection but could cause the following minor and major side effects.
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach upsets
- A stuffy nose and headache
- Seizures for those people who are prone to seizure disorders. Anyone who has had a seizure in the past should avoid using carnitine.
- Some people have reported restlessness and problems sleeping so it best to take carnitine earlier in the day.
- Changes to blood pressure and a fast heartbeat.
- High energy levels
For most people these side effects are relatively minor although the more serious effects must be checked out by a doctor.
Carnitine is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women, but can be used in the short term for children if prescribed by a doctor. However people with an under-active thyroid should avoid the use of carnitine as it is known to make hypothyroidism worse.
Some medicine do not react well with carnitine including medicines prescribed for blood clotting disorders. It is thought that carnitine might increase the effectiveness of this medications making blood clot too quickly. In fact, anyone who is taking medication for any condition should consult a doctor before using carnitine as a supplement.
However not all side effects of carnitine are negative. The following list are some of the benefits which are thought to be associated with taking the amino acid.
- Fat loss
- Increased muscle mass
- Increased bone mass
- Reduce the need to angina medication
- Improve kidney function
- Male infertility
- Improved type II diabetes
- Improved immunity
- Improved brain function
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