For people with a chronic illness like Lyme disease, fatigue is often one of the most debilitating symptoms. It can feel nearly impossible to lead a full and happy life when it’s a struggle just to get out of bed some days. Unfortunately, many products aimed at alleviating exhaustion contain stimulants and other potentially dangerous ingredients. So is there a safer way to naturally boost energy levels?
Enter L-carnitine. This amino acid produced by your body is responsible for a number of critical functions, including energy production. Taking an L-carnitine supplement can increase your body’s L-carnitine stores, potentially giving you more energy.
What is L-carnitine?
Amino acids like L-carnitine are the building blocks of protein. Since protein makes up our skin, hair and muscles and performs many essential duties in the body, amino acids are a key part of our make-up.
Among the amino acids, L-carnitine stands out thanks to its role in energy production. Each of the cells in your body contain mitochondria. Sometimes called the cell’s powerhouse, mitochondria convert the food we eat into energy that powers our bodies. L-carnitine acts as a transporter, bringing fatty acids to your cells’ mitochondria, where they’re turned into energy.
How does L-carnitine boost energy levels?
Because of the role L-carnitine plays in energy production, supplementing with L-carnitine may help your body create additional energy. Researchers have examined the effect of L-carnitine supplementation on people experiencing symptoms of chronic fatigue, with promising results. In one study conducted at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois, participants diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome were given either an L-carnitine supplement or a pharmaceutical medication commonly used to treat fatigue in multiple sclerosis patients. After eight weeks of treatment, study subjects who took L-carnitine showed significant improvement in 12 out of the 18 clinical parameters set by researchers to measure benefit. Those who took the pharmaceutical medication didn’t show improvement in a single one of the parameters.
L-carnitine has also been looked at for its potential to help people who are experiencing fatigue because of cancer – either from the disease itself, or as a side effect of chemotherapy. Looking at information suggesting that carnitine deficiency may contribute to chemo-induced fatigue, a group of researchers set out to determine whether L-carnitine supplementation could help cancer patients experiencing this type of fatigue. They found that supplementing with L-carnitine helped bring up patients’ carnitine levels and improved their fatigue symptoms.
With such compelling science indicating the benefit of L-carnitine supplementation for different populations struggling with chronic fatigue, it seems possible that people with Lyme disease who experience fatigue as a side effect of their illness could see a boost in energy levels with carnitine.
What are some additional health benefits of L-carnitine?
In the same way that L-carnitine provides a natural energy boost for those suffering from fatigue, it can also help power athletic performance. Multiple studies have shown that supplementing with L-carnitine can help athletes increase their endurance, allowing them to exercise longer before hitting the point of exhaustion. L-carnitine may also enhance performance by:
- Shortening recovery time
- Increasing blood flow to muscles
- Reducing post-exercise soreness
- Bumping up production of oxygen-carrying red blood cells.
Given the part L-carnitine plays in the process of converting fat into energy, it’s no surprise that L-carnitine supplements are also used for weight management. Research results have been mixed, but some studies suggest that supplementing with L-carnitine (along with eating well and getting plenty of exercise) may lead to weight loss. One meta-analysis of nine studies found that subjects who were given L-carnitine lost significantly more weight than a control group, and they also showed a body mass index (BMI) decrease.
Supplementing with L-carnitine seems to benefit the brain as well as the body. Many experts recommend taking L-carnitine to improve memory and concentration. It may even keep ageing minds sharp – a study where all participants were at least 100 years old found that L-carnitine supplementation increased cognitive function while decreasing physical and mental fatigue.
How much carnitine should you take to boost energy levels?
Two grams of L-carnitine daily has been shown to improve fatigue symptoms, and this dose is widely considered to be safe. While L-carnitine supplements are generally well-tolerated, some people have experienced stomach upset and other digestive issues while taking L-carnitine. As always when shopping for a supplement, you should seek out a quality product like Make Well’s Mito Plus with L-carnitine, and check with your doctor or pharmacist about any potential drug interactions.
If you’re dealing with fatigue related to Lyme disease or another chronic illness, you don’t have to resign yourself to a life spent on the sidelines. Supplementing with L-carnitine can naturally boost your energy levels and help you get back in the game. You may find yourself experiencing additional health benefits like weight loss, too!