What is L-Carnitine?
You’ve probably heard about the importance of protein for you and your baby's health. The rumors are true — protein contains important amino acids that help support every single cell in our body!
Carnitine is a critical amino acid that doesn't get enough attention. It has a particular impact on energy production.
If you’re a new mama and feel like you’re living on empty, this one's for you!
What does L-Carnitine do?
Carnitine is a generic term used to describe all carnitine compounds. These include L-carnitine, acetyl-L-carnitine, and propionyl-L-carnitine.
As a whole, carnitine is a powerful amino acid that transports long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondria.
This includes those found in coconut oil. When they get to the mitochondria, they are oxidized to produce energy.
Remember high school biology? Yep, the mitochondria are the energy factories of the cells.
Carnitine also transports toxic compounds out of the mitochondria. This prevents them from accumulating.
Being vital in cellular energy, it makes sense that the majority of carnitine in the body is found in tissues like the skeletal and cardiac muscle.
This helps provide your muscles with fuel. Pretty cool, right?
Why this is good for moms: All mamas find themselves fatigued and tired from time to time. It’s just part of the territory! L-Carnitine provides an energy boost, giving mamas an extra pep in their step.
What are the benefits of L-Carnitine?
A study found that supplements of acetyl-L-carnitine may improve mental function. It may also reduce deterioration in older adults with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in American women. In a recent study, heart attack patients were treated with L-Carnitine. There was a 27% reduction in mortality!
Insulin resistance is commonly experienced by women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. This is thought to be associated with a defect in fatty-acid oxidation in the muscle and may be associated with mitochondrial dysfunction.
Early research suggests that supplementation with L-carnitine may improve insulin sensitivity. It decreases fat levels in muscle and may lower glucose levels in the blood.
Okay, ladies, carnitine isn’t just for you. Researchers have found that carnitine status in seminal fluid is directly related to not only sperm count, but sperm motility (how well sperm can swim).
What are the benefits of L-Carnitine for pregnant and breastfeeding women?
Carnitine is considered a “non-essential” amino acid. This is because it can be made by other amino acids in the body.
However, this is not possible for everyone. For some, L-Carnitine is considered “essential.”
L-Carnitine is essential for premature infants. Because some premature infants can’t synthesize carnitine adequately, they depend on their diet.
Breast milk is a great source of carnitine for these infants!
We also know that plasma carnitine concentrations can decrease, especially in the third trimester of pregnancy.
Plasma carnitine concentration increases within the first month postpartum.
But in some women with carnitine deficiency, muscular carnitine stores are not replenished. These women may see symptoms of muscle weakness.
There are two main types of carnitine deficiencies. Primary carnitine deficiency is caused by a genetic disorder. This is typically diagnosed by age 5.
Secondary carnitine deficiencies have various causes.
- Antibiotics formulated with pivalic acid seem to cause the biggest issue with carnitine metabolism.
- Individuals who follow a vegan diet are at risk for developing a carnitine deficiency.
What are the side effects, if any, of L-Carnitine?
L-Carnitine has been studied extensively, is well-tolerated, and is generally safe as a therapeutic agent. But, it can still have possible side effects.
It’s always important to consult a doctor before starting new medications or supplements.
At more than 3 grams per day, L-Carnitine supplementation may cause mild side effects.
These include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, and in some cases, a “fishy body odor.”
It’s important to consult with your doctor before starting carnitine because it can interact with certain medications.
These include pivalate-conjugated antibiotics (such as pivampicillin used in long term UTI prevention) and anti-seizure medications.
L-Carnitine helps weight loss… is it true?
I know what you’re wondering. Since it burns fat, does L-Carnitine work for weight loss?
Not only does carnitine play an important role in energy production, it also supports metabolism. Many women use it for weight loss management.
There’s no “magic pill” for weight loss, but carnitine can be a great part of the postpartum weight loss journey.
Before using it for weight loss, focus on dietary and lifestyle modifications. Get daily movement (15-20 minutes of exercise at least 5 days a week), eat 5-7 servings of vegetables each day (organic if possible), and drink water (half your body weight in ounces for most women).
L-Carnitine is so beneficial because it helps with fat burning and utilizing the long-chain fatty acids you’re getting from your diet.
It targets their attention toward your skeletal and cardiac muscles. It’s a great way to help support your exercise routine and maximize your athletic performance!
When is the best time to take L-Carnitine?
To get all of the good effects of L-Carnitine, it’s best to take it first thing in the morning with your breakfast or shortly after a workout.
Why this is good for moms: L-Carnitine can be handy for incorporating into your day whenever you need or anticipate a need for extra energy. We love to use it before or after a workout or in the morning as a wake-me-up!
How long does it take for L-Carnitine to work?
Generally, it takes 4-6 weeks for L- carnitine to work.
How can L-Carnitine help new moms?
L-Carnitine can help new moms by maximizing their muscle strength, relieving muscle soreness, increasing energy, and aiding with postpartum weight loss.
Why this is good for moms: Need we say more? L-Carnitine is a powerful amino acid that quite literally does it all.
What’s the best L-Carnitine powder?
Carnitine supplements can come in many forms. As it continues growing in popularity, finding high quality sources is critical. Liquid or powder forms are best because they are quickly absorbed by the body.
One of my favorite ways to enjoy an L-Carnitine supplement is with Majka’s Hydration Booster.
It is quickly absorbable and has been uniquely designed to combine essential electrolytes, trace minerals, and Vitamin C.
It’s perfect for on-the-go/anytime hydration without compromise. Although carnitine can be taken at just about any time of the day, it’s best to take it first thing in the morning, or better yet, after a quick workout!
Looking for more magic resources for losing weight postpartum or supplementing? Try these expert-curated articles:
- How Your Diet Affects Your Postpartum Recovery
- How to Safely Lose Weight Postpartum
- BeyondfitMom's C-Section Recovery Guide