If you think of centenarians as being wheelchair-bound or sick, you haven?t been to Italy lately. There, a group of researchers found 66 healthy men and women with an average age of 101. While all of them were healthy and active, the researchers found that they still showed signs of aging, such as general weakness, forgetfulness, poor balance, and lack of stamina.
The researchers also found a nutrient that greatly improved the quality of their lives. This single supplement was responsible for a number of improvements. It gave them even more energy, improved their memory, built muscles and helped them lose fat.
What was this "miracle" supplement? It was an amino acid (part of protein) called L-carnitine.
L-carnitine is a vital nutrient for many body processes. You may have heard that fish oils and other omega-3 fatty acids help protect against Alzheimer?s disease and other memory problems. It?s true. But they can?t do their job unless you have enough L-carnitine. You need this amino acid to carry beneficial fats into the cells. In fact, L-carnitine helps your body use good fats and get rid of those that you don?t need. That?s why these centenarians lost body fat when they took this supplement.
The people who took L-carnitine had three times the muscle mass as those who took a placebo. They had more energy and their cognitive abilities improved as well.
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You can find L-carnitine in foods, but you won?t be able to eat enough to get the two grams a day that worked for these centenarians. Still, it would be smart to include some of them in your daily diet. L-carnitine is highest in red meat and dairy products. If you keep these foods to a minimum for other health reasons, you can still get some L-carnitine in nuts, seeds, beans, and vegetables, including asparagus, broccoli and other greens, and beets.
You can find L-carnitine supplements in health food stores and on the Internet. It?s not cheap, but it seems to do so much that it may be worth a trial. Try taking 1,000 mg (one gram) twice a day with meals for six months (the length of this study). It should cost you around $30/month to see how well it works for you.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 86(6):1738-1744, 2007