This compound is not considered an essential nutrient because the body makes it in sufficient quantities. Carnitine helps all cells in the body generate energy, especially muscle cells. It’s possible that a deficiency of this compound can cause the fatigue associated with CFS. Studies have shown that CFS patients tend to have lower levels of carnitine in their blood, and higher levels are linked with less severe symptoms.
Researchers from Chicago took the carnitine-and-CFS hypothesis one step further. They gave 30 people with CFS either carnitine or a drug treatment for two months. After a two-week rest period, the treatments were switched; those who originally got the drug were given carnitine, and vice versa. The researchers found a significant improvement in those taking the carnitine supplements after eight weeks.6 The greatest improvement took place between one and two months.
L-carnitine is found in meat and dairy products. As a general dietary supplement, the recommended dose is 1 to 3 grams per day. The supplement is considered safe. Occasional side effects of gastrointestinal upset have been reported. Avoid products that contain D-carnitine or DL-carnitine—these forms compete with L-carnitine in the body and could lead to a deficiency.
The Bottom Line…
Leslie’s recommendations for managing CFS
1. First and foremost, implement the healthiest diet possible.
2. If your intestinal tract or skin reacts to certain foods, make an appointment with a specialist to have food-allergy tests performed. Often food sensitivities are the result of a weakened immune system.
3. To ensure you are meeting your daily targets for essential nutrients, especially the B vitamins, take a multivitamin and mineral supplement each day. If you are sensitive to many foods, buy a “professional brand” that contains no binding ingredients.
4. In addition to eating wholesome, nutrient-dense foods, some evidence suggests that taking certain natural health products might ease the symptoms of CFS. Consider adding the following to your daily regime:
• B complex vitamin formula
• Magnesium citrate, 200 to 300 milligrams
• Essential fatty acids (fish or flax oil), 5 to 8 capsules
• L-carnitine, 1 to 3 grams
5. To stimulate your body’s immune system, consider adding the following herbal remedies to your daily plan:
• Panax ginseng (G115 extract), 100 to 200 milligrams
• Aged garlic extract, 2 to 6 capsules
6. If you suffer from frequent bouts of the common cold, try a standardized extract of Echinacea at first sign of infection. Take 900 milligrams of Echinacea three to four times daily until your cold disappears. Avoid using this herb if you are allergic to members of the Asteracease/Compositae plant family (ragweed, daisy, marigold and chrysanthemum).