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​Feeling fatigued? L-carnitine could be the answer

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A nutritional supplement taken by world class athletes has been hitting the headlines this week because it could be the key to elderly people being able to exercise more rigorously.

This article in The Telegraph conforms the benefits: www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/elder/11723620/Supplement-allows-elderly-people-to-exercise-more-rigorously.html

L-carnitine is also used by endurance athletes as well as for treating men with fertility problems, and it plays a key role in a biological pathway that determines our ability to cope with exercise.

It's an amino acid that helps muscles recover from exercise as well as with the metabolism of fat, and it's naturally produced in the body.

Put simply, l-carnitine helps the body to produce energy, and it's important for heart and brain function, muscle movement and many other body processes.

Supplements are taken by people whose natural level of l-carnitine is too low because they have a genetic disorder, are taking certain drugs or because they are undergoing a medical procedure that uses up the body's l-carnitine.

It's also used as a replacement supplement for vegetarians, dieters and low-weight or premature infants.

Scientists from Duke University in the USA believe the discovery may assist the development of treatments for people who get easily fatigued, such as the elderly and diabetes sufferers.

Athletes often take it to improve their performance, but until now scientific evidence supporting the claims made for the supplement has been lacking.

Researchers conducting tests on mice found that l-carnitine appeared to work with CrAT (carnitine acetyltransferase) to optimise muscle energy metabolism during exercise.

Introducing an l-carnitine supplement to mouse diets improved exercise tolerance, but only in animals whose muscles demonstrated normal CrAT activity.

Mice lacking the CrAT gene tired quickly during exercise and could not be helped by carnitine.

However, the scientists, whose findings appear in the journal Cell Metabolism, stressed that it wasn't known whether l-carnitine had the same effect in humans.

But they pointed out that the amount of l-carnitine produced in the body declines with age and as a result of certain diseases.