Carnitine, Heart Disease, and Diabetes


In the last article I spoke a little about the myth of red meat causing heart disease due to its containing a good amount of the amino acid carnitine, which has been found to interact with gut bacteria to form TMAO, which is found to be higher in people suffering with cardiovascular disease.

So we went over some of the humorous logic that was involved in getting from red meat increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, which I will touch on again in case you missed the last article.

We might first wonder whether or not there’s good evidence that eating red meat increases your risk of cardiovascular disease in the first place, and the answer is that we don’t have any such evidence, although you would think that this is what they would need to study if they were looking to actually vilify red meat.  We have studied this though, and have found no such connection.

That should put an end to the discussion, but it hasn’t, they then look at things that red meat has been associated with, cholesterol for instance, and show that it raises it, and then see that people with heart disease have higher cholesterol levels, so there’s your smoking gun right there, a toy gun at least.

Didn’t we prove there’s no connection though?  Well no matter, we’ll just ignore that and rely on making specious claims based upon some heinous mistakes in reasoning.  One of the things that they are now using is the fact that red meat contains carnitine, carnitine can be converted to TMAO when it interacts with intestinal bacteria, and people with cardiovascular disease can have high levels of TMAO, so red meat increases your risk for cardiovascular disease, and carinitine especially does.

We can imagine Mr. Spock’s eyebrows raising and proclaiming that this is highly illogical, and it certainly all is.  There’s no evidence here to support any of these claims in fact.  The only thing that’s interesting about any of this, since many foods elevate TMAO, and many common foods elevate it a lot more than red meat does, a lot of commonly eaten vegetables for instance, is that this is further evidence that our gut bacteria may play more of a role in all of this then we realize, and that’s actually probably true.

The fact that carnitine got caught up in all this bunk is particularly funny though, given that carinitine has clearly been shown to benefit cardiovascular disease, even with those who already have it, and have even had a previous heart attack.

The Mayo Clinic studied the effects of carnitine and heart disease with a huge study and concluded that carnitine has multiple and significant benefits for cardiovascular disease.  Carnitine provided a reduction in all cause mortality by 27%, and had even bigger benefits for cardiovascular disease specifically.

This should have put and end to all this discussion about carnitine increasing the risk of heart disease, especially since the speculation against it wasn’t based at all upon science, and this was, but this is how it goes in the world of looking to speak out against things, they aren’t interested at all in the pursuit of truth, the goal is propaganda and misinformation.

Carnitine’s biggest claim to fame is how it aids fat metabolism, improving fat oxidation and also increasing energy levels as a result.  There is nothing that does all this as well as carnitine does in fact.  These is an issue that is especially important for diabetics, with obesity and in particular, fatty organs playing such a big role in our disease.

Carnitine is particularly concentrated in our organs, including the heart and liver, where its protective effects are most important.  These are two organs that are particularly vulnerable in diabetics, with our higher insulin levels as well as our damaged mitochondria from fat.  Carnitine improves the ability of mitochondria to burn fat more efficiently, a big benefit to anyone but especially for us.

Carnitine also helps build muscle mass and this is the reason why it’s so widely taken by bodybuilders, and it decreases fat and increases muscle, something a lot of diabetics could benefit from for sure.  It’s not enough to just work out, as without enough carnitine you won’t build the muscle that you should be building, and you will also be carrying more fat around than you should.

Carnitine also protects the brain, especially the memory loss that older patients can experience, including helping prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Since it promotes energy from burning fat, this can also help the many diabetics that have low energy, especially those whose energy levels aren’t up to what they could be on a lower carb diet.  It’s necessary to get a lot of your energy from fat, but this can’t happen if you don’t burn it efficiently, and carnitine definitely helps with this process.

Carnitine also helps lower blood sugar by improving glucose disposal directly.  Many of the benefits of carnitine for diabetics have to do with the mitochondria themselves and the beneficial effect it has on cellular metabolism, and broken cellular metabolism and reduced mitochondrial function likely contributes significantly to the broken signaling that causes excessive amounts of glucose to be secreted into our blood, resulting in the chronically high blood glucose that is the hallmark of type 2 diabetes.

Carnitine is particularly noteworthy as a treatment for intermittent claudication, a condition that a fair number of diabetics have, limiting how much one can walk without discomfort, in addition to the other dangers of this disease.  It also provides several other health benefits, including improving insulin sensitivity, lowering blood sugar, and lowering amounts of ammonia in the body, something quite desirable.

Typical dosages are in the 500 to 2000 mg a day range, with some studies using 3000 mg a day.  This is by the way on top of what you may be getting from your diet, including amounts from red meat.  We need more carnitine, not less, especially if we are concerned about cardiovascular risk, and even more  so if we have cardiovascular disease already.

Of course some people want us to have less, and we can rightly seriously question what their goals are, as they clearly seem to be to direct us toward more illness so they can suck even more blood from us.

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