Category Archives: Carnitine

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

What Experts Say About Weight Loss and Amino Acids

There are a tremendous amount of resources online and in books that explain the health benefits to those who are trying to lose weight as it pertains to amino acid supplements; but what are some of these expert sites or doctors saying?

Are there really some amino acids that help you with weight loss better than others? Are there scientific studies to validate some of this information?

You can decide for yourself, but below I have compiled a few of these sources for you to examine.

Amino acids – a few sources for weight loss

First of all, you can read our other article called Dr Oz Weight Loss Amino Acids: L-Carnitine, L-Glutamine, and L-Arginine, which covers how these three amino acids can help you lose weight.

According to WebMD authors, Whey Protein, Amino Acids May Boost Fat Loss. This information was reliant on a study that was done and discussed by researcher Robert Coker, PhD, an associate professor of geriatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, in Little Rock.

Dr. Nicholas Perricone (MD, CNS) through the Huffington Post announces that The Top 10 Weight Loss Supplements include Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA), DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol), Glutamine, Carnitine, Acetyl L-carnitine, Coenzyme Q-10 (also called ubiquinone), Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), Chromium, Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA), and Maitake medicinal mushroom extract. Outside of weight loss benefits, maitake also helps regulate blood sugar levels, especially in diabetic patients.

In a sister site (but completely unrelated to Amino Acid Information) of Amino Acid Studies, three main amino acids are found—based on studies—that can help with weight loss. In their article titled Amino acids and their significance for fat burning, arginine, glutamine, and methionine are three aminos that can boost your efforts to lose weight.

These are but a few of the excellent sources that exist that are based on either scientific studies or that have experts telling us that these amino acid supplements can help you lose weight. Weight loss should always be part of a balanced diet and by eating healthy food and proper exercise, rather than focusing on fad diets or by popping pills.

It is also important to note that all 22 amino acids, whether they are essential amino acids or non-essential amino acids, are available through protein foods like meats (beef, chicken, lamb, pork, etc.), eggs, and fish.

References:

http://aminoacidinformation.com/dr-oz-weight-loss-amino-acids-l-carnitine-l-glutamine-l-arginine/

http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20121212/whey-amino-acids-fat-loss

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-nicholas-perricone/the-top-10-weight-loss-su_b_227618.html

http://www.aminoacid-studies.com/areas-of-use/fat-burning.html

L-Carnitine as Neuroprotectant for Traumatic Brain Injury

Loved ones with brain injuries may find help. Carnitine (also called L-carnitine) a compounded produced by the synthesis of amino acids lysine and methionine, is used in the transportation of fatty acids to create metabolic energy from the mitochondria. As a supplement, carnitine has been used to treat a number of ailments such as heart attacks, heart failure, and diabetic neuropathy, to name a few. It is also believed to help enhance exercise performance and exert a high concentration of antioxidant effects. 

Because of carnitine’s wide range of actions, researchers at the University of Maryland, School of Medicine examined whether acetyl-L-carnitine, an acetylated form of L-carnitine, would be a beneficial treatment for traumatic injury to the brain.

According to researchers Susanna Scafidi, Jennifer Racz, Julie Hazelton, Mary McKenna and Gary Fiskum, traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of death in children. Traumatic injury is characterized by irregularities in cerebral energy metabolism that start minutes to hours after initial impact of the injury. Left untreated, the injury can lead to cell death. Previous studies have found that acetyl-L-carnitine acts as a neuroprotectant for cerebral ischemia and spinal cord injury, but none have tested the treatment for traumatic brain injury.

For the experiment, the researchers hypothesized that acetyl-L-carnitine administered within 24 hours after traumatic brain injury in immature rats would improve the outcome compared to the control.

For the experiment, young rats were anesthetized with isoflurane and researchers induced traumatic injury by a controlled cortical impact to the left parietal cortex of the rats’ brains. The rats were then treated with acetyl-L-carnitine or a control saline solution at 1, 4, 12 and 23-hours after injury. The researchers then evaluated the rats behaviour a few days later using novel object recognition tests and beam walking.

The effect of acetyl-L-carnitine on symptoms of traumatic brain injury

After assessing the test results and examining the brains for cortical lesion volume, the researchers found that the injury was associated with more foot slips during the beam walking exercise when compared to normal rats.

However, the injured rats that were treated with acetyl-L-carnitine demonstrated fewer foot slips compared to the saline-treated group. The acetyl-L-carnitine group also did better on the novel object recognition test compared to the saline group, but the results were still lower when compared to an uninjured rat.

Scafidi, Racz, Hazelton, McKenna and Fiskum also found that cortical lesion volume was smaller in the acetyl-L-carnitine group than in the saline group. Based on these results, the researchers believe that treatment with acetyl-L-carnitine up to 24 hours after traumatic brain injury would be beneficial towards behavioral outcomes and lower the percentage of brain lesion volume in young rats.

They hope that additional studies will lead to a more comprehensive understanding of acetyl-L-carnitine as treatment for humans with traumatic brain injuries.

Source:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21228558

Amino Acids and Proteins – Dr Weil’s Diet Advice

Dr Weil’s diet advice has been becoming extremely popular. His book shows what you can eat, how the diet works, and what to avoid. It’s a simplified book on basic human nutrition, and tells how we get energy from the food we eat. 

Dr Weil’s diet book advice covers things like fiber and protein and amino acids (like leucine, phenylalanine, or carnitine) are discussed, as well as ethnic intolerances to certain foods. For instance, this famous MD recommends that we have at least 40 grams of fiber each day. This is easily achieved if you eat vegetables (beans in particular), fruits (especially berries), and whole grains.

Dr Weil says to avoid dairy products

Dr Weil’s diet advice also suggest that we avoid milk altogether, and only eat limited amounts of cheese or other dairy products. Many people are lactose intolerant, particularly if you are of African-American or Asian decent, since people of these ethnic background tend to have problems digesting dairy products (lactose intolerance is usually inherited).

Still others may yet be allergic to milk protein, even mildly, and may not even know it. Only a particular group of European decent have the adaptation to be able to tolerate dairy products. Even then, there are plenty of other—better—sources for protein, calcium, and amino acids in the diet.

Take calcium, as an example… Dr Weil’s diet includes wonderful non-dairy sources of calcium by eating things like sardines, leafy greens, various sea vegetables (dulse, nori, and kombu), broccoli, plus tofu, calcium-fortified orange juice, fortified soy milk, and sesame seeds are wonderful sources of this mineral.

Dr Weil’s diet advice doesn’t mention it, but ounce for ounce, raw unhulled sesame seeds contain more calcium than any other food on earth! Try liquefying them with water in a blender for a few minutes, add real maple syrup to taste, and then strain it through a fine-meshed 1-gal sized plastic paint strainer (yes, you read that right!), and wala! You have super-calcium sesame milk!

Dr Weil’s diet on amino acids and more

Proteins build and repair and even maintain the body, plus they can be converted to glucose, which the body needs for energy. This is where amino acids come in. Altogether there are 22 amino acids available to the human body, some of which the body makes, but others must be gotten from food.

If you eat too much protein it makes it harder on the digestive system and puts strain on the kidneys and liver. If you eat too little protein you risk malnutrition, infection susceptibility, and maybe even an early death, says Dr Weil’s diet information.

Other Dr Weil’s diet advice includes limiting carbohydrates (sources of glucose) to low-glycemic index varieties, such as sweet potatoes (rather than white potatoes), other vegetables, plus unrefined grains. Fats and oils should also be limited. The last note is that when implementing Dr Weil’s diet be sure to get an adequate amount of exercise.

Reference:

http://www.webmd.com/diet/dr-andrew-weil-what-it-is?page=2

L-Carnitine To Become Cancer Cachexia Treatment?

A European animal study has found that L-carnitine supplementation could become part of treatment for cancer-related cachexia.

Cancer-related cachexia is a devastating wasting syndrome, where the sufferer experiences dramatic muscle loss and weight loss. This is caused by the body’s own immune system which is attempting to fight the cancer, but breaks down and destroys skeletal muscle and fat tissue.

It usually occurs in advanced cancer, and severely affects quality of life. Some patients with cancer cachexia become so frail they cannot even walk.

The National Cancer Institute estimates that about a third of all cancer deaths are caused by cancer cachexia. This is not only due to extreme frailty, but also because cachexia hinders treatment responses.

S Busquets, R Serpe, et al, part of the Cancer Research Group, Departament de Bioquímica i Biologia Molecular, Facultat de Biologia, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain, developed an animal trial to study the effects of L-carnitine on cancer-related cachexia.

L-carnitine is the biologically-active form of the amino acid carnitine. Carnitine is made in the body from two other amino acids: lysine and methionine. It plays a significant role in the metabolism of fatty acids. L-carnitine is a very popular health supplement.

L-carnitine and cancer cachexia animal study

The researchers gave L-carnitine to rats with an extremely cachectic rat tumor. The rats received 1 gram of L-carnitine per kilo of body weight. Food intake, muscle mass, and physical performance were analyzed.

Results were extremely promising. The L-carnitine supplements significantly improved the animal’s food intake. The rats’ muscle weight also improved. The rats’ physical performances improved, as measured by their total physical activity, how quickly they moved, and how far they travelled.

The L-carnitine also affected the cancer genes, possibly causing some apoptosis, or cell death.

The researchers concluded that supplementation with L-carnitine could become part of a successful, non-toxic, therapy for cancer-related cachexia.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22608917

Carnitine Supplements Prevent Toxicity Caused By Chemotherapy

Cancer chemotherapy is continually being refined. Many chemotherapy drugs successfully treat tumors, but they also have severe side effects. Can carnitine (L-carnitine) supplements prevent some of these side effects?

MM Sayed-Ahmed, with King Saud University’s Department of Pharmacology, College of Pharmacy, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, reviewed the role that the amino acid carnitine has in cancer chemotherapy-induced multiple organ toxicity.

Chemotherapy has some extreme side effects, which can greatly reduce quality of life. Nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite make the patient feel weak. Numbness and muscle and joint pain are also distressing common side effects.

Even worse, some chemotherapy can lead to life-threatening multiple organ toxicity. It’s not usually the anticancer activity of the chemotherapy drugs which cause organ toxicity, but because the chemotherapy drugs affect the absorption of other nutrients.

If carnitine cannot be absorbed and therefore used by the body, the patient develops a carnitine deficiency. And patients with cancer cachexia—the extreme wasting, muscle loss caused by the cancer—are at particular risk from carnitine deficiencies. Cancer cachexia patients are not getting enough nutrition.

Carnitine is found in red meat and dairy products. It’s also found in soybeans, wheat, and avocados. And the active form, it is readily available as a supplement.

Carnitine affects fatty acids and energy production. It also reduces blood triglycerides and cholesterol.

Carnitine depletion leads to toxicity

The anticancer chemotherapy drugs are crucially important, often the only means to treat the cancer. So preventing carnitine deficiency is a key goal. Supplementation with this amino acid, and carefully monitored levels, are necessary to reduce the toxic effects of chemotherapy. Carnitine supplementation does not affect the anticancer activities of the chemotherapy.

The review concluded that carnitine is depleted by several anticancer chemotherapy drugs, and carnitine supplementation must be considered to prevent multiple organ toxicity.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23960728

Anti-Aging Amino Acids – Arginine and Methionine

Two of the anti-aging amino acids arginine (also called L-arginine) and methionine. Aging causes the breakdown of your body’s cells, and the reduction of regeneration of those cells as we did in our younger days. Cells die and do not renew the way they used to, which we need to produce overall healing and health. 

DNA can affect the body’s triggers regarding aging, but many times the environment also is a factor. Environmental alterations can occur based on diet, and anti-aging amino acids may include essential and non-essential amino acids.

Non-essential amino acids are produced by the body (genetics or errors in our DNA code—like congenital disorders—can make us deficient), but essential amino acids are only gotten through diet. Different amino acids can do different things for the body; however, anti-aging amino acids are specific to factors of aging.

Arginine is considered semi-essential, or conditionally essential, while methionine is an essential amino acid.

Anti-aging amino acids arginine and methionine and carnitine

People tend to associate getting old with physical beauty, such as wrinkled skin, shiny hair or hair growth (especially out of the ears and nose, or on other parts of the body), or even healthy nails. Allergic reactions can also play a role for skin health as infections and circulation (oxygen supply) affect the complexion, sagginess, or ruddy-skin look with pore size.

The answer – anti-aging amino acids support collagen production and how the skin functions. Creatine is produced by arginine (L-arginine) and methionine, which come from the amino acid carnitine. The skin is the largest organ in the human body, so its importance in health and wellness are usually visually evident.

Remember to stay away from too much sun as UV (ultraviolet) rays can damage and dry out the skin, and free radicals in the environment can reduce skin elasticity, which causes wrinkles. Anti-aging amino acids like arginine and carnitine, which form creatine, support healthy skin. There are anti-aging amino acids in some “amino acid creams” as well, but eating raw foods is one of the most essential keys to keeping the skin hydrated and healthy and elastic and youthful.

Consider adding arginine, methionine, and carnitine to your diet through protein foods like meat, fish, and eggs, but do ask your doctor about taking amino acid supplements before you do so. Either way, these anti-aging amino acids should help your skin look more youthful and reduce the aging effect.

Reference:

http://www.aminoacid-studies.com/areas-of-use/anti-aging.html

Table of Amino Acid Abbreviations

Students and teachers come together with terms like “Amino acid abbreviations” – but scientists use these abbreviated forms to refer to the 20+ names of amino acids as well.

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and they can be gotten from food. Before we get into the amino acid abbreviations you may want to know that there are two main types of amino acids (with a few exceptions)…

Essential and Non-essential amino acids

Essential amino acids does not mean they are “essential” as in necessary… it simply means that they can only be gotten from the food you eat so must be included through diet or dietary supplementation. Protein foods like meats (beef, chicken, pork, etc.) and eggs, as well as fish, are excellent sources of amino acids. Many meat-eating Americans actually eat an overabundance of protein compared with what the human body requires, which can lead to acidity (which leads to disease), cardiovascular and other diseases.

Non-essential amino acids are those that your body can produce naturally. Occasionally, someone is born with a deficiency in their body’s ability to produce the amino acids necessary for proper functioning, leading to diseases or disorders where people have trouble breaking down certain amino acids. An example of the latter is Maple Syrup Urine Disorder (MSUD) which is what newborn babies are screened for soon after birth.

There are 22 different amino acids in all (some of them semi-essential), but about 20 of them are more common. Their names, 3-letter, and 1-letter amino acid abbreviations follow.

Table of amino acid abbreviations

Amino Acid

3-Letter

1-Letter

Alanine

Ala

A

Arginine

Arg

R

Asparagine

Asn

N

Aspartic acid

Asp

D

Cysteine

Cys

C

Glutamic acid

Glu

E

Glutamine

Gln

Q

Glycine

Gly

G

Histidine

His

H

Isoleucine

Ile

I

Leucine

Leu

L

Lysine

Lys

K

Methionine

Met

M

Phenylalanine

Phe

F

Proline

Pro

P

Serine

Ser

S

Threonine

Thr

T

Tryptophan

Trp

W

Tyrosine

Tyr

Y

Valine

Val

V

Aspartic acid or Asparagine

Asx

B

Any amino acid

Xaa

X

Termination codon

TERM

For more information on amino acid abbreviations or more detailed information on amino acids in general, please see other articles at the Amino Acid Information Center. There are also many excellent resources on the Internet or in encyclopedias.

Reference:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Class/MLACourse/Modules/MolBioReview/iupac_aa_abbreviations.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amino_acid#In_human_nutrition

http://www.newbornscreening.info/Parents/aminoaciddisorders/MSUD.html

How Many Amino Acids are there – 20, 22, or 200?

For a while it was thought that there were only 20 amino acids, and many websites still reflect this today, but in fact, a couple of more rare aminos were discovered making a total of 22 amino acids. But how many amino acids are there really? 

The real question is how many amino acids exist beyond the 22 we know of SO FAR, and what about other types of amino acids? The reality is that amino acids, which are the basic building blocks of the body, are in abundance within the body. They are sources of energy such as carbohydrates and fats, except that amino acids contain nitrogen (N); because of this they play a role in forming muscles, tissues, organs, skin, and even hair.

Amino acids act as the precursors to neurotransmitters in the brain and enzymes that help with things like digestion. Amino acids are essential for health, and basically regulate the body’s metabolic processes. There are hormones that are made up of amino acids, antibodies too, so they affect the immune system. Plus they transport oxygen and nutrients in the body.

How Many Kinds of Amino Acids are there?

Different amino acids have different functions. How many amino acids, types, or kinds that exist depend on whether they are:

Essential
Non-essential
Semi-essential

How Many Essential Amino Acids Are There?

How many amino acids are “essential” (meaning you must get them from food)? They are listed as: arginine, histidine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine.

Essential amino acids are available in mixes as BCAAs. The specific aminos included are often leucine, isoleucine, and valine. You can get BCAA powders from Beamzen.

How Many Amino Acids are Non-Essential

How many amino acids are “non-essential” (meaning your body makes them)? These are listed as: alanine, asparagine, aspartate, cysteine, glutamate, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine, tyrosine.

However, how many amino acids from one of the above groups are actually conditional or “semi-essential” amino acids? These are: arginine, cysteine, glycine, glutamine, proline, serine, tyrosine.

There are 22 Amino Acids

These above are the 20 more well-known amino acids; however, just how many amino acids exist actually are counted as being over 200 in numbers, but the 22 proteinogenic amino acids are the ones that are commonly known.

These more commonly known aminos can be found in food (all meat such as beef, pork, chicken, seafood, and even eggs are excellent sources of all 22 amino acids). They can also be bought as amino acid supplements individually or as a complex of many in balanced forms for their health benefits.

How many amino acids have you had in your diet today?

Reference:

http://aminoacidstudies.org/#sthash.51ThyP74.dpuf

http://www.nutriology.com/aaessnoness.html

Does Natural Viagra Exist? Amino Acids May Help With Erectile Dysfunction

Many of us have heard countless advertisements where dietary supplement companies are promoting natural solutions for impotence, poor libido or erectile dysfunction (ED).  But, do these supplements actually work?  Is there such a thing as a natural cure for erectile dysfunction, or a so called natural Viagra?

In 2012, researchers Gianfrilli D, Lauretta R, Di Dato C, et al concluded their study in the Sapienza University of Rome in Italy.  They wanted to find out if nutraceutical products – natural alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs – could help men with erectile dysfunction (ED).

According to the researchers, “the application of nutraceuticals in the field of male sexual function – in particular for erectile dysfunction (ED) – remains relatively underexplored.” This seems to be so despite the fact that there are dozens of natural products on the market making sometimes outlandish claims.

Researchers provided 54 men (35-75 years) with a three-month supplementation with amino acids Propionyl-L-Carnitine and L-Arginine, as well as Niacin and monitored their progress. All test subjects had to fill out a IIEF – international index of erectile function – questionnaire, go through global assessment questions and participate in laboratory tests before the test and after three months.

Did Amino Acids Help with Erectile Dysfunction?

The results were promising.  After three months of treatment, a small, but statistically significant improvement in total and single items of IIEF was found.

The nutraceutical, primarily amino acid based erectile dysfunction treatment, improved erections in 40% cases, but occasionally occurred in up to 77% of test subjects.  The study confirms that the positive cardiovascular effects of these nutraceutical products can also reflect on male sexual function.  Furthermore, these supplements can potentially be used in the treatment and prevention of erectile dysfunction.

Erectile dysfunction affects millions of Americans every year.  Pfizer’s Viagra is the leading product in the sexual dysfunction industry with a 45% market share in 2012, just ahead of Cialis.  More than 8 million Viagra prescriptions were written in 2012 with total sales of about $2 billion. The total market is close to $5 billion annually.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21966881

http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/27/health/viagra-anniversary-timeline/index.html