Category Archives: Cardiovascular Health

What are Carnitine and Carnosine Amino Acids Used for?

There are two amino acids that often get mixed up: carnitine and carnosine. What are they and how do they differ? Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Normally, when you eat proteins your body breaks them down into their basic units, called amino acids. Then your body puts them back together in a new way to build protein in your body, such as muscles and organs, and it is used for other bodily functions as well.

Carnitine is an essential amino acid, meaning that your body cannot produce it on its own, so it must be gotten through diet, specifically from protein foods (meats, fish, and eggs have all 22 common amino acids), but can also be taken as an amino acid supplement.

Carnosine is a non-essential amino acid, which means that your body produces it on its own; therefore, it is not usually needed as a supplement.

Both carnitine and carnosine can be taken as supplements, but be careful doing so without checking with your doctor (whether separately or together) first since they can have side effects, especially if you are taking certain medications. Normal amounts of carnitine and carnosine that are gotten through food do not apply.

Carnitine and carnosine are usually connected with other amino acids:

Carnitine is synthesized from the amino acids methionine and lysine.
Carnosine is made from the amino acids histidine and alanine.

Carnitine and carnosine health benefits

Carnitine helps the body burn fat by transporting fatty acids, and it also flushes toxins out of the mitochondria within cells. Carnitine is found in concentrations within the cardiac muscle and skeletal muscles. It also could possibly aid in reducing symptoms of people with an overactive thyroid. People who have diabetic neuropathy may also find some pain relief, thanks to carnitine.

Carnosine works differently than carnitine. In effect, it is an antioxidant. It functions within the brain, nervous system, and skeletal muscles. Interestingly, this amino acid can help remove excess zinc and copper out of the body in a process known as chelation. It may also help with cataracts and speed up wound healing.

Carnitine and carnosine are complimentary for diseases

Carnitine and carnosine both have anti-aging effects, plus reduces the speed of memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) age-related patients.

Another area is autism, where the carnitine and carnosine both function to help autism as an alternative treatment. When comparing these two amino acids for autism treatment, Michael Chez, M.D., et al. (Nov 2002 Journal of Child Neurology) and Dan Rossignol, M.D., (Oct 2009 Clinical Psychiatry), reported that carnitine got a grade “B” for improving symptoms of autism, while carnosine got a grade “C” for improving communication and behavior.

These two amino acids also help improve cardiovascular function, but they do so in different ways. Carnitine reduces the symptoms of heart angina and peripheral vascular disease. Carnosine reduces the risk for developing atherosclerosis plus can help reduce cholesterol.

An important note: some physicians believe people should avoid taking D-carnitine because it can interfere with L-carnitine, which is naturally found in the body. Because of this, you should ask your physician before taking both carnitine and carnosine as supplements.

Reference:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/493759-carnosine-vs-carnitine/

The Youthful Old: Amino Acids are Among Methods Used for Anti-Aging

As the older generations get older they turn to what works for helping reverse the aging process. As we age our bodies’ cells stop regenerating at the same rate they used do, and things slowly start deteriorating. Entropy takes a hold, and wrinkles appear, skin thins and loses elasticity, and our bodies do not work quite as efficiently as they used to. Tonics and television ads announcing the next “fountain of youth” seem to have the next best thing, but what does science actually test in their studies, and what actually works? Evidently amino acids, among a list of other things, are among the many tools and methods people can use to help reduce the signs of aging and bring some vitality and life back to an old soul.

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. They perform functions in our bodies that are necessary at just about every level, from tissues and organs, skin and hair, muscles and the immune system. All 22 amino acids come from protein foods, but some are actually created by our bodies (non-essential amino acids) while others must be gotten from food (essential amino acids). This would include meats, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds, and beans.

Anti-aging with bio-molecules and amino acids

According to P Dabhade and S Kotwall, the way to help slow down or reverse the aging process starts with the process of bio-molecues. To help avoid incurable or chronic or even fatal diseases, slow the aging process, as well as improving quality of life, the researchers who reviewed some bio-molecules that are part of anti-aging therapies. Some of the interventions were dietary and included:

Adherence to nutrition
Anti-aging supplements/nutrients (e.g., amino acids)
Genetic manipulations
Hormonal therapies
Cell-based therapies

Skin treatments contain amino acids

Researchers M Ooe, T Seki, et al., did a comparative evaluation of different treatments for wrinkles. Since noninvasive cosmetic surgery and aesthetics were common, but nothing existed for how to treat the wrinkles themselves, they compared four wrinkle treatment methods, including amino acids:

YAG laser treatment
CT-atRA external application
Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy
Nutritional therapy with amino acid supplements

The results were that all four procedures, which were minimally invasive, had “demonstrated statistically significant improvement in the degree of wrinkle. As for the subjective assessment of VAS, all four treatments demonstrated equivalent satisfaction.” The bottom line is that amino acids may actually help get rid of wrinkles rather than just covering them up topically.

Dr. Oz on which amino acids are anti-aging

So of these methods for anti-aging, which amino acids actually can help with the process? Well, Dr. Oz says that there are five ways to supercharge your body in five days, and amino acids are one of them.

Says Dr. Oz, and HGH levels (Human Growth Hormone, which also may help the antiaging effect) mentioned in a study, that “a special blend of four amino acids has the potential to spike HGH levels by more than 600%. To boost your HGH levels naturally, try taking this supplement that researchers have deemed the most powerful anti-aging amino acid combination.”

These four naturally anti-aging amino acids include:

Arginine (give you energy, regulates blood pressure, keeps heart from working as hard, may help lower body fat)

Glycine (supports muscles, helps you store energy, helps you sleep)

Lysine (helps your body make energy from fatty foods)

Ornithine (gives you energy by removing toxins out of your body)

Dr. Oz recommends an amino acid complex that has a combination of at least 2000 mg of these amino acids.

If you have any questions regarding amino acid supplements please talk with your physician or naturopath.

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23451844

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23397058

http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/supercharge-your-body-5-ways-5-days?page=4

Carnitine Deficiency and Cancer Survival Rate

Childhood cancer survivors are at higher risk of developing heart disease than the general population, but a study published in brings good news. Testing for carnitine deficiency could prevent the development of congestive heart failure.

Childhood cancer is the second most common cause of death in children between one and 14 in the US. Leukemia is one of the most common of these cancers of children.

Some cancers, including leukemias, are treated by anthracyclines. Anthracyclines work by slowing or even stopping the growth of cancer cells.

They are extremely effective at treating the cancer, but have serious side effects. The most serious side effect is cardiotoxicity, which means the drugs damage the heart. Anthraclyclines could make the heart weaker, leading to less efficient pumping and circulation. This is known as congestive heart failure.

Researchers (Armenian SH, Gelehrter SK, et al) with Population Sciences, City of Hope, sought to investigate the link between anthracyclines and cardiac dysfunction, and if congestive heart failure could be prevented.

Study finds link between carnitine deficiency and heart failure in cancer survivors

The study, published in Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev on April 9, 2014, analyzed the hearts and blood plasma of 150 childhood cancer survivors who had previous been treated with anthracyclines.

Their hearts were tested with echocardiograms (ECG). 23% of the study participants had cardiac dysfunction.

When testing the blood plasma levels, which included testing levels of amino acids, the researchers discovered that the participants with cardiac dysfunction had significantly lower plasma carnitine levels.

The researchers concluded discovering this link to carnitine deficiency could lead to prevention, as a carnitine deficiency can be treated before and during anthracycline administration.

Additionally, testing for low levels of carnitine could become part of the screening process for low for patients at high risk of developing heart failure.

Sources: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24718281

Leucine Supplements Repair Heart Damage In Third Degree Burn Patients

An animal study investigated the effects of administering the amino acid leucine in reversing the heart damage caused by third degree (full thickness) burns.

Serious burns affect the heart as well as the skin. Burns range from superficial–first degree burns–to fourth degree burns. First degree burns heal very well over about ten days, but fourth degree can lead to amputation and death. Third degree burns, or full thickness burns, extend right through the skin. These burns can also lead to amputation.

These serious burns affect the cardiovascular system, too. Burns affect the heart’s ability to produce vital proteins, which it needs in order to pump effectively.

Most burns are caused by fire and hot liquids. These are known as thermal burns, and include scalding. Scalding is caused by hot liquids or gases. Thermal burns are common injuries, particularly in children.

Researchers (CH Lang, N Deshpande, et al) from the Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, USA, developed an animal study into burn-induced heart injury and the amino acid leucine.

The researchers knew that leucine stimulates the initiation of protein in skeletal muscles. They hoped the leucine would also stimulate protein in cardiac muscles.

Leucine is an essential amino acid, which means we must get it from our food. It’s particularly important in promoting muscle growth.

Would leucine reverse the heart damage caused by third degree burns?

In the animal study, anaesthetized rats were given a 40% total body surface third degree scald burn. Some were given leucine after 24 hours. The leucine group was compared to a control group, and there was also a non-burn control group.

The hearts of the burned rats suffered damage. The necessary protein was not synthesized in their hearts. However, the hearts of the burn rats given leucine showed a reversal of this cardiac damage.

The study concluded that leucine supplementation could repair the heart defects caused by serious burn injuries.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15377887

Exercise and Branched-chain Amino Acid (BCAA) Supplements Prevent Cardiac Atrophy

Cardiac atrophy–the wasting of the heart muscles–can lead to a variety of cardiovascular conditions. But supplementing with branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), along with a program of exercise, can restore the heart and promote circulation again.

Cardiac atrophy is usually caused by prolonged bed rest, though astronauts living in microgravity are affected by atrophy.  People with congenital heart disease may also develop cardiac atrophy.

This atrophy means the heart muscles are deteriorating. They shrink, and the heart loses volume. As the muscles waste, the heart loses strength, and blood pressure is affected. This weakens the entire cardiovascular system. The reduced blood pressure results in orthostatic hypotension, where the brain isn’t getting enough blood, often resulting in dizziness, lightheadedness, and even fainting. But can BCAA supplements help?

Prolonged bed rest therefore is not good for the heart. However, it is prescribed for several medical conditions, including some complications in pregnancy. Coma and stroke patients, too, often spend long periods supine. BCAA supplementation was tested in a study for cardiac atrophy.

TA Dorfman, BD Levine, et al, researchers at the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine, Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, USA, developed a study to examine the effects of exercise and nutritional supplementation of proteins and branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) on women with cardiac atrophy.

Healthy volunteers were recruited. Their heart volumes were measured, then they were subjected to 60 days of 6 degrees head-down tilt bed rest. They were divided into exercise and BCAA supplement groups, and a control group.

Does BCAA help prevent cardiac atrophy?

The control group all suffered cardiac atrophy due to the prolonged bed rest. Both left ventricular and right ventricular volumes in their hearts were decreased. The exercise group, who used a supine treadmill, had no atrophy. The protein and BCAA supplement group also saw no reduction in either left or right ventricular mass. However, with the group who received only BCAA supplementation, and no exercise, the heart did lose some volume.

In conclusion, exercise is absolutely vital to prevent cardiac atrophy in long-duration bed rest. BCAA supplements are beneficial, especially when combined with an exercise program.

Source:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17379748

Homocysteine, Cysteine, and Colorectal Cancer

Researchers investigated the link between levels of plasma homocysteine and colorectal cancer in postmenopausal women. Will the results shed light on the risk of developing this cancer?

Colorectal cancer—also known as bowel cancer–is a cancer of the colon (large intestine) or rectum. It’s the third most common cancer diagnosed in men and women, and the second leading cause of cancer-related death when statistics for both sexes are combined.

Improved screening techniques have led to the death rate dropping for colorectal cancer. The polyps which form in the early stages can be removed before they develop into cancers, and early detection also means much better prognosis. All cancers are easier to treat when they are detected early.

But better understanding of colorectal cancer is an important topic of research. And new screening techniques could help diagnose the disease even earlier.

JW Miller, SA Beresford, et al, researchers at the Department of Medical Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of California, USA, developed a study to assess the links between the amino acids homocysteine, cysteine, and the incidence of colorectal cancer in postmenopausal women.

Homocysteine is a non-protein amino acid. It’s similar in formula to cysteine, though homocysteine is biosynthesized in our bodies, from the amino acid methionine. It can also be converted into methionine or cysteine with the aid of B-vitamins. We also get cysteine from food, especially high-protein foods like meat, cheese, and eggs.

High levels of homocysteine have been linked to cardiovascular disease. Would they also be linked to colorectal cancer?

Results of homocysteine, cysteine, and colorectal cancer trial

The trial found some significant results. High levels of homocysteine were associated with proximal colon tumors, though not distal or rectal tumors.

They concluded that high plasma homocysteine levels are associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. High levels of cysteine indicate a decreased risk.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23426034

Amino Acids for Women who Exercise

When it comes to women, amino acids definitely have their place as far as supplements go. Amino acids play a crucial role in women’s health because they are the building blocks of proteins, and affect hair, bone, skin, and even hormones and exercise, plus muscles, tissues and organs. There are some amino acid supplements for women that you can take to aid exercising regimes, which can be purchased at supermarkets or vitamin shops.

Amino acids supplements

Amino acids for women are the same as they are for men. There are 22 amino acids that are broken down into these categories: essential amino acids, and non-essential amino acids, as well as semi-essential or conditional aminos. Amino acids can be taken in the form of capsules but they also come from protein foods like meats (beef, lamb, fish, chicken, turkey, pork, and even eggs) and dairy, beans, and nuts.

Taking amino acids for women can help boost fat burning and muscle building, and should be taken along with proper exercise and a healthy diet in order to keep a fit physique and lean and strong muscles.

Amino Acids for Women:

L-arginine:
L-arginine is a precursor to nitric oxide (NO), which helps keep the body healthy. L-arginine also dilates blood vessels, which allows for better blood flow and delivery of nutrients to the muscles for fat burning. Arginine also boosts HGH (human growth hormone) that comes from the pituitary gland. HGH also helps with women who have low testosterone levels, which does less for muscle burning, but more for fat burning. 3-5g in the morning and a half an hour before bed or exercise will do the trick.

L-glutamine:
Another of the amino acids for women is L-glutamine, which enhances the recovery time for muscles after they’ve been used or damaged. Glutamine also helps with energy, fat burning, and boosts immunity. If you are dieting or doing some really intense workouts you can lose muscle and metabolic function, but glutamine protects lean muscle from breaking down when the muscles are stressed. Stressed muscles can trigger the cortisol-connection. Cortisol, which is a stress hormone, can actually stop fat burning and promote the storage of fat in those troublesome areas like the buttocks, hips, and thighs.

L-carnitine:
One of the well-known amino acids for women is L-carnitine. Carnitine plays a role in energy production (co-factor). Cells cannot make energy without carnitine’s help because it is what transports fatty acids into the mitochondria, which in turn produce the energy. Carnitine is also one of those amino acids for women with the nitric oxide connection, which is a systemic gas that helps bring faster results when working out in the gym. Heart health is also boosted in women, thanks to carnitine, since the heart muscle requires heavy energy production so it can beat efficiently. You can take 1-3g of carnitine up to three times per day.

Beta-Alanine:
Beta-alanine is also one of the amino acids for women that I will cover today. Beta-alanine increases the intramuscular levels of L-carnosine (don’t confuse it with L-carnitine above). Carnosine buffers lactic acid levels in the cells of muscles. Lactic acid is what builds up and makes your muscles feel sore after an extra-long or extra-hard workout or muscle contraction. Lactic acid makes you feel the “burn” in the muscles. Carnosine buffers and allows you to work harder or longer in the gym. Taking beta-alanine also can be taken with creatine to further boost body fat loss and muscle building. Take 1-3 g just before and after your workouts.

BCAA’s:
Last but not least, BCAA’s (branched-chain amino acids) are also amino acids for women, which helps the female body to lose weight fater. BCAA’s help prevent muscle breakdown by keeping the supply needed by working muscles in check. This is important since they fuel muscles directly for energy, while also triggering lean muscle building and the burning of fat. 3-5g of BCAA’s can be taken before and after workouts.

Reference:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/267249-amino-acid-supplements-for-women/