Tag Archives: cardiovascular health

L-Carnitine Supplement Could Treat Heart Disease

An animal study has identified a potential new therapeutic option for treating cardiac fibrosis: L-carnitine supplementation. Could L-carnitine prevent the development of heart failure?

Researchers (Y Omori, T Ohtani, et al), at the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, Japan, developed an animal study to analyze potential new treatments for heart failure—specifically heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) in hypertensive heart disease.

Hypertensive heart disease is caused by hypertension, or high blood pressure. Hypertensive heart disease with heart failure is a serious condition, which can lead to ischemic heart disease and heart attacks. Heart disease is leading cause of death worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

The researchers were aware that prognosis of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction is poor. They knew that hypertension causes decreased free-carnitine levels in the heart. Would L-carnitine supplements have an effect?

Carnitine is a non-essential amino acid, synthesized in the human body from the amino acids lysine and methionine. Carnitine is also found in food, especially red meat and dairy products. L-carnitine is simply the biologically-active form of carnitine.

Carnitine has a substantial antioxidant effect, which greatly benefits health by preventing free radical damage. The researchers hoped that the carnitine supplements would also combat hypertension.

L-carnitine treatment and heart failure study

Rats were given a high-salt diet, which models hypertensive heart failure. Their free carnitine levels were measured, and were found to be low in the left ventricle of the heart. The rats were then given L-carnitine supplements.

This L-carnitine treatment had a significant impact. It restored the levels of carnitine in the chambers of the heart, and even reversed fibrosis. Cardiac fibrosis is a thickening of the heart valves, which is often found in heart failure.

The affect L-carnitine has on reversing, or thinning, the level of cardiac fibrosis means that L-carnitine could become a therapeutic option for treating hypertensive heart disease in the future.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22796714

Connection between Folic Acid and Amino Acid Homocysteine

There is a connection between folic acid and amino acid homocysteine, but what is it? Folic acid and amino acid (homocysteine, one of the 22 amino acids) functions are quite different, but the former does affect the latter. In fact, blood levels of homocysteine in the body are lowered in the presence of folic acid.

Folic acid is also known as folate; however, folate is slightly different. Folate—a bioavailable and natural form of vitamin B9—comes from the word ‘foliage’ because it is found in leafy greens, such as spinach and other greens, but also from fortified/enriched cereals and animal foods like eggs or liver, as well as plant foods like broccoli, brussel sprouts, lentils, beans, asparagus, cantaloupe, and bananas. Folic acid is merely the synthetic form of folate, and is found in supplements.

Folic acid/folate (vitamin B9) helps the body produce energy, is needed for mental and emotional health, and helps prevent neural tube birth defects like spina bifida, which occurs during the first month of pregnancy, especially in high risk pregnancies. Folic acid deficiencies can occur in people due to alcoholism, celiac disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.

The terms (and products) folic acid and amino acid are two different things; where folic acid is vitamin B9, and amino acids like homocysteine, cysteine, leucine, lysine, carnitine, and so on, are simply the building blocks of proteins. All 22 common amino acids are found in protein foods such as meats (chicken, pork, beef, etc.) as well as fish and eggs. Eggs, then, are actually a good source of both folic acid and amino acid content.

So what is the connection between folic acid and amino acid homocysteine?

Although amino acids are necessary for health, sometimes it is not good to have too much of a good thing; homocysteine is one of these amino acids where elevated blood levels of the amino acid can actually cause health problems.

According to Dr. Weil, elevated homocysteine levels are “linked to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. Elevated homocysteine levels are thought to contribute to plaque formation by damaging arterial walls. High levels may also act on blood platelets and increase the risks of clot formation; however, whether high levels of homocysteine actually cause cardiovascular disease has yet to be agreed upon. … In addition, some evidence suggests that people with elevated homocysteine levels have twice the normal risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.”

The folic acid and amino acid connection is affected by diet as well. People who eat a lot of meat in comparison to leafy greens (that have folate/folic acid) or fruits tend to be highest in homocysteine levels. B vitamins and folic acid help reduce homocysteine levels. Additionally, says Dr. Weil, “homocysteine is also produced in the body from another amino acid, methionine. One of methionine’s main functions is to provide methyl groups for cellular reactions. … Typically, homocysteine then receives another methyl group from either folic acid or vitamin B6 to regenerate methionine.”

Folic acid supplements usually come in .4 to .8 grams, but prescription strength is at 1 g/day, although older pregnant women or high risk moms can take up to 4+ g/day (doctor prescribed). If you are low in folic acid and amino acid levels supplements can be taken for either. High stress and increased coffee consumption can also raise homocysteine levels, however. Homocysteine levels can also be elevated due to psoriasis, kidney disease, or even low thyroid hormones.

Other than talking with your doctor, one of the best ways to deal with the folic acid and amino acid connection, especially if there is an issue, is to eat healthy, get enough exercise, and make sure your daily diet includes plenty of leafy greens and fresh fruits and vegetables and less meat and fried foods, which may also reduce cholesterol and aid cardiovascular health as an added bonus.

Sources:

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/vitamin-b9-folic-acid

http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03423/Elevated-Homocysteine.html

Heart Bypass Surgery and L-glutamine Perioperative Care

A study investigated the protective effects of L-glutamine in coronary bypass surgery, with positive results. 

Ischemic heart disease, often known also as myocardial ischemia, is characterized by reduced blood supply to the heart muscle. The heart becomes weaker, unable to pump blood effectively round the body. This is usually caused by coronary artery disease, or atherosclerosis, which is hardening of the arteries.

Ischemic heart disease is the most common cause of death worldwide. However, it can often be prevented. Risk factors include obesity, smoking, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, which can all be addressed with lifestyle changes.

However, the risks of developing heart disease also depend on age, genetic factors, and diabetes.

Coronary artery bypass surgery  is one of the treatments for ischemic heart disease. A Cardiopulmonary bypass  is often a part of this heart surgery. The cardiopulmonary bypass is a technique which temporarily takes over the functioning of the heart, because it’s extremely difficult to operate on a beating heart.

Researchers W Lomivorotov, S Efremov, et al, wanted to see if the amino acid L-glutamine had cardioprotective effects during a cardiopulmonary bypass. They published their findings in the Russian journal Anesteziologiia i Reanimatologiia, or Anesthesiology and Intensive Care.

L-glutamine to be part of perioperative care for heart surgery?

Patients were divided into the study group and the control group. The study group was administered L-glutamine, specifically a 20% solution N(2)-L-alanine-L-glutamine. The control group received a placebo solution.

The solutions were given during the perioperative period, which is the entire surgical procedure including admission, anesthesia, surgery, and recovery. The goal of perioperative care is to provide better conditions for patients before, during, and after their surgery.

In this study, the L-glutamine solution provided an excellent perioperative addition for patients with ischemic heart disease up to 24 hours after surgery. The L-glutamine solution had a significant cardioprotecive effect, and could become a standard part of treatment for these ischemic heart disease patients if they need to have heart surgery.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22834281

Carnitine vs Carnosine? What are They and What Do They Do?

Carnitine is an essential amino acid, while carnosine is a non-essential amino acid. The term “essential” simply means that it is required through diet (by eating foods that have or produce carnitine) to obtain the amino acid, whereas non-essential means that your body can make the amino acid carnosine on its own.

Carnitine vs carnosine

Carnitine vs carnosine: both are both two of the twenty-two amino acids known to exist, and can indeed be gotten through eating animal protein foods such as beef, chicken, pork, fish, and eggs. However, carnosine is also made by the body without supplementation, but carnitine is only made available to the body through diet or taking supplements.

Be careful of taking supplements of either carnitine vs carnosine, separately or together, because they can have side effects, especially when taken with certain medications, so be sure to ask your doctor/physician before taking them. Normal amounts gotten through food should not typically apply.

According to LiveStrong.com “Carnitine is synthesized from lysine and methionine, while carnosine is made from alanine and histidine.”

Carnitine vs carnosine: How they work in the body

Carnitine transports fatty acids in the body to burn fat. Carnitine also transports toxic wastes out of the mitochondria in cells. Concentrations of carnitine reside in the skeletal and cardiac (heart) muscle. Carnitine may also help reduce the symptoms of an overactive thyroid, as well as lower pain related to diabetic neuropathy.

Carnosine, a different amino acid altogether, is an antioxidant that functions in the skeletal muscle, brain, nervous system. Scientists are still not sure how carnosine works exactly, but evidently it can chelate (known as chelation), which is the removal of excess amounts of copper and zinc from the human body. LiveStrong reports that carnosine also improves wound healing and helps cataracts.

Both carnitine vs carnosine (or vice versa) have anti-aging effects and slow memory loss associated with age-related Alzheimer’s disease. An alternative treatment for autism is also a function of these two aminos.

Carnitine studies show it improves symptoms related to autism with a grade “B” while carnosine got a grade “C” for improvements in behavior and communication related to autism, according to Michael Chez, M.D. et al. (Nov 2002 Journal of Child Neurology) and Dan Rossignol, M.D., (Oct 2009 Clinical Psychiatry).

Carnitine vs carnosine for cardiovascular health

Both of these amino acids can improve cardiovascular functioning by providing health benefits to the heart, but in completely different ways. Carnitine reduces symptoms of peripheral vascular disease and angina in the heart, while carnosine lowers cholesterol and also reduces the risk of atherosclerosis.

Overall, it is recommended by many physicians that D-carnitine should be avoided since it interferes with the more natural form of L-carnitine in the body. Please check with your doctor before taking carnitine or carnosine supplements.

Please remember to visit our other health news portals, Medicinal Mushroom Information Center at http://medicinalmushroominfo.com Vancouver Health News at http://VancouverHealthNews.ca and http://todayswordofwisdom.com.

Reference:

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