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Role and origine of carnitine

The organism can produce energy by different ways. However, most of it is produced through the aerobic metabolism, based on the utilization of fatty acids and oxygen. The oxidation process of fatty acids takes place inside the cells, in small structures called mitochondria. Here comes the carnitine: the carnitine is an amino-acid that makes possible the transport of fatty acids through the membrane of motochondria.

Normally, the dogs is able to meet his requirements himself: the liver can synthezise carnitine from 2 indispensable amino-acids, lysine and methionine.

The food is another possible source of availaible carnitine. The quantity present in vegetables ingredients is neglectable, but meats contain a lot of carnitine: from 50 mg/100g in beef up to 200 mg/100 g in lamb meal.

In the dog, 95 % of carnitine is concentrated in the cardiac muscle and in muscles. They use it to produce energy. In this respect, the potential interest of a carnitine supplementation in dogs has been mainly studied in 2 fields: cardiac function and physical exertion.

Carnitine and cardiac diseases

Several clinical observations show a relationship between some cardiac dysfunctions and a deficiency in carnitine. This deficiency would slow down the energy supply to the cells of the cardiac muscle. For example, at least 50 % of dogs that suffer from dilated cardiomyopathy (cardiac muscle atrophy + pathological dilatation of the cardiac cavities), present an abnormally low concentration of carnitine in the cardiac muscle. The most “ risky ”breeds are: Boxer, Pinscher, Doberman, Cocker Spaniel…

A dietary supplementation proves to be efficient to stabilize or even to improve the clinical state of the animals, provided the daily doses are fairly high: 200 mg/kg/day.

Carnitine and sporting dogs

In man and animals, one shows that the level of carnitine in the blood dicreases in a considerable way within 30 mn after an important physical effort. The stored reserves of carnitine are then used by muscles. However, when the diet provides an extra-supply of carnitine, the drop in serum concentration of carnitine is less acute, and comes back quicker to its normal level.

On a physiological aspect, carnitine encourages the utilization of fats as a “ fuel ” for physical exertion, at the expense of carbohydrates. Such a supplementation would then be interesting to limit the production of lactic acid, which is a limiting factor or the performances. The recuperation ability and the endurance capacity towards prolonged efforts would also be improved by a dietary carnitine supplementation.

As far as we know, a carnitine supplementation could be advised in sporting dogs submitted to long efforts. Good results would be obtained with 50 to 100 mg/kg everyday. Optimal efficiency would be observed after 2 or 3 weeks of daily supplementation.

At this level, there is no toxicity of carnitine to fear, provided the product contains only L-carnitine. (When synthetized, carnitine exists under 2 chemical forms, D and L. Biologically, only the L-form is active. A mix of D- and L-carnitine is not only inefficient but also harmful because the D-form inhibits the action of the L-form).

Carnitine in human medicine

In man, carnitine is used at least in 2 special situations:

  • in renal-deficient persons, submitted to regular dialysis. Dialysis would induce important carnitine loss, leading to a deficiency state. (In man, carnitine is also synthetized by the kidney);
  • in premature babies . L-carnitine supplementation stimulates the formation of the mucus lining the interior of pulmonary alveolus, indispensable for the normal functioning of the lungs.

Conclusion There is no reason to worry about the content in carnitine in our products. They contain plenty enough lysine and methionine in order the dogs can meet their carnitine requirements themselves.

Concerning food-products for sporting dogs, systematic incorporation of carnitine is not really justified. It would considerably increase the costs, without our beeing able to guarantee a positive effect. Actually, many facts need to be confirmed. However, carnitine supplementation might be practised in cures during training and competition periods. It is not harmful at all.

Donated by the Borg Cardona and Co. Ltd. visit Borg Cardona website

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