L-Carnitine is a natural substance found in most cells of the body, and it is crucial for the production of energy. After your body metabolizes fats and carbohydrates into fatty acids, L-Carnitine transports them into the mitochondrial power plants of the cell, where they serve as fuel for energy production. Simply put – L-Carnitine turns fat into energy.
The Study on Muscle Mass and Strength
Published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism, scientists ran a study for eight weeks on a supplemental combination of L-Carnitine, L-Leucine, Creatine, and Vitamin D3. Forty-two healthy adults between the ages of 55 and 70 participated in this randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study, where they were randomly assigned to one of three groups – the L-Carnitine combination, L-Carnitine only, or a placebo for eight weeks. Results of the study showed that, compared to the placebo group, the combination supplement resulted in a 63.5% improvement in muscle mass, muscle strength and physical activity.
The researchers wrote, “L-Carnitine, in combination with L-Leucine and creatine, significantly enhanced lean muscle mass and functional strength particularly in the lower legs, likely due to an improved protein anabolism through the mTOR pathway. The combination product was safe, well tolerated, and may provide additional performance value with prolonged use beyond the 8-week study period in healthy older adults.”
Sarcopenia is the degenerative loss of muscle mass, quality and strength associated with aging. According to Archana Gogna, MS, CNS, MBA of InVite® Health, Sarcopenia becomes apparent after the age of 40 and progresses annually, generally accelerated after the age of about 75. “Sarcopenia and osteoporosis are directly related conditions, one often following the other. Muscle generates the mechanical stress to keep our bones healthy. When muscles are used less frequently (as seen in the elderly and in “couch potatoes”), it can exacerbate the problem of osteoporosis and lead to a decline in health.”
Natural Alternatives for Healthy Muscles, according to Archana Gogna, MS, CNS, MBA
There are many natural alternatives to support the maintenance of muscle mass and strength. Whey protein, one of the best-absorbed sources of protein, has been found to be beneficial in increasing muscle and tendon size and strength. Protein can also be incorporated into the diet through grass-fed meat, pasture-raised eggs, free-range poultry, beans and nuts. Optimal levels of Vitamin D are crucial to maintaining muscle health, as it helps to preserve type 2 muscle fibers. Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA/DHA from fish oils) can be helpful for reducing inflammation, which can quite often go hand-in-hand with muscle deterioration.
Hormones and Inflammation
Speak to a healthcare professional about your hormone levels and have them tested to make sure they are all within a healthy range. A decrease with age in hormones such as testosterone, DHEA and IGF-1 (insulin growth factor-1) can impact bone and muscle.
According to Archana Gogna, aging creates a certain amount of oxidative stress that can cause an increased level of inflammation in the body. Counteract this by incorporating inflammation-fighting foods into your diet like omega-3s, fresh vegetables and fruits.
Healthy dietary lifestyle changes, exercise, targeted nutraceuticals, keeping track of hormonal changes, and keeping inflammation in check, you may be able to ease into your golden years with relative ease and be able to lead active and independent lives.