The Carnitine and TMAO-Connection
The other day one of my clients at the gym asks me about carnitine supplements, since she just started using one.
I said ‘Oooff, I must recommend against that!’
Why? Because carnitine side effects just might be…quite serious.
L-Carnitine is an amino acid found in for example red meat and it is also sold as a health food supplement, for fat burning, heart health, extra energy.
But supplements can be a two edged sword. Not all are created equal.
SOME experts even recommend almost entirely against them, since they say on the whole supps make you worse rather than better.
Usually, they have a point.
THE PROBLEM is, that certain gut bacteria can turn carnitine into this TMAO.
On the other side of the equation, I personally approve of some specific nutritional supplements for sports performance and overall health.
The right ones at the right times, in the right amounts and/or combinations can be rather effective, healthy even.
Some examples would include BCAA’s, glutamine (yes, glutamine), vitamins D3 and B12, and Creatine plus Beta Alanine.
But on the whole, always remember that the supplement industry is a sub-category of the fitness industry
– you might even argue supplements are the fuel that drives it…
…and the fitness industry is a sub-sector of THE FOOD Industry, and them there buggers you cannot trust, not by a long shot, not by a mile and a half, not even as far as you can throw them.
Ever heard the term ‘Big Bad Pharma’? Well, the food industry is MUCH bigger and, yes, WAY worse!
But I will get more into examples of what serious bad-ass crooks and criminals they are in future posts.
For now: don’t trust them… just don’t. But back to supplements.
One perfect example of one that they sell as healthy and beneficial, yet that just MIGHT be not only unhealthy but straight up deadly, is…
According to the latest discoveries and insights of science – and I source some here, please look into it and make up your own mind – this specific supplement could potentially be super-dangerous:
Causing both atherosclerosis = heart disease and stroke AND perhaps cancer!
Some studies showed that carnitine was heart-healthy. A meta analysis by the Mayo Clinic says it’s good for your heart… welcome to the confusion.
In the spirit of fairness and full disclosure, I link their findings here: http://www.medpagetoday.com/upload/2013/4/12/jmcp_ft88_4_2.pdf
The studies in the Mayo report were mostly small with short follow-up, and included only heart-attack survivors.
As I understand it, the problem is that in some of these studies the stuff was injected IV -directly into the blood stream…don’t try this at home.
But when people EAT it, ingest it, iow oral application -which is the common way of administration- something entirely different seems to happen.
Looks like the digestive system turns carnitine into a substance called TMAO (Trimethylamine N-oxide)
And THAT shit … is potentially lethal.
Here is a video that explains the process in detail, it’s from a vetted source, meaning he knows what the fuck he’s talking about.
In Summary: Research shows that oral carnitine – like eating a steak or taking a carnitine supplement – is metabolized by gut bacteria into a toxic substance called trimethylamine and finally into TMAO.
TMAO likely causes heart disease and possibly cancer.
“Based on the Nature Medicine study, I’d be concerned about taking L-carnitine supplements,” Dr. Mozaffarian says on the Harvard Health Blog.
“There was no strong reason to take such supplements before the study, and now this well-done study suggests there may be harm. I would definitely think three times before taking an L-carnitine supplement.”
Another supplement that looks good on paper (at least on some papers), but in real life I’d stay the hell away from it… at least till we know more.
If a supplement has a high likelihood of being potentially deadly, I’m not gonna use it till it’s for sure safe. So in this case: in doubt AGAINST the defendant, sorry.
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