Carnitine may improve sexual function in the aging male with lower testosterone levels

Impotence, ED, depression, and fatigue are common in aging men: is it inevitable?

Carnitine is the gatekeeper for fat-burning. Carnitine picks up fat and takes it into the part of the cell THAT CAN BURN THE FAT FOR FUEL (THE MITOCHONDRIA).

You must have healthy MITOCHONDRIA – the powerhouse of your cells – to age well.  Many supplements help improve the function of the aging mitochondria (carnitines, CoQ10, alpha lipoic acid, resveratrol, B-vitamins, niacin, magnesium, etc.).  Research has shown that feeding your mitochondria these supplements can help with energy, mood, and sexual performance.

Why would you need to take supplements? Your CoQ10 levels are about 50% of youthful levels at the age of 50, as well as many other important hormones and nutrients.

Both acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) and propionyl-L-carnitine (PLC) are natural substances that help boost our energy metabolism by acting as sources of their parent compound, carnitine, an unusual type of amino acid.* Carnitine in our cells facilitates the transport of fatty acid molecules across the mitochondrial membranes. Without these fuel molecules, our mitochondria (the cells’ chemical “powerhouses”) would sputter and die—and so would we. Our carnitine levels tend to decline with age, so maintaining a healthy supply of this compound is a good idea.

The dose of carnitine is 500 mg – 2 grams a day.  An analogy of optimal nutrition is your yearly salary. If you made $10,000 a year you could survive, but you could live more optimally on $100,000 a year.  But more is not necessarily better. Over 2 grams a day may reduce performance gains in exercise seen with doses of 2 grams or less. (Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2010, 7:35)

KEY BENEFITS THAT HAVE BEEN STUDIED WITH ACETYL-L-CARNITINE (ALC) AND PROPRIONYL-L-CARNITINE (PLC)

1.  Carry fats into the mitochondria for energy – thus increasing energy and promoting weight loss

2. Improve mood

3. Improved sexual performance

4. ALC may increase the neurtotransmitter acetylcholine and thus improve memory and other mental functions in mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s

5. ALC may be neuroprotective and may help in the peripheral neuropathies of diabetes and other nerve problems

6. Decrease AGEs – the sugars that damage proteins – which can lead to nerve damage, cataracts, wrinkles, and the tissue damage of aging

7.  Cardioprotective properties may include improved heart function, less angina, improved pain with walking (claudication) from reduced circulation

8. Improve immune function by increasing white blood cell numbers and function

Less serious side effects than Viagra®, Levitra®, and Cialis®?

Side effects can include headache, nasal stuffiness, diarrhea, and visual problems.  The FDA issued a “Black Box Warning” in 2005 regarding SUDDEN BLINDNESS.

Although these drugs improve the mechanical side of erectile dysfunction, they do nothing for the mental and emotional side.

In the Cavallini study reference regarding sexual dysfunction, depression, and fatigue published in the journal Urology, consider these points:

There were 3 groups: 1) received 160mg of testosterone a day 2) placebo 3) 2 grams of PLC and ALC. The study was for 6 months.

1. The PLC/ALC group and the Testosterone group experienced improvements in sexual dysfunction, depression, and fatigue.

2. The testosterone group did not have an increase in PSA, but did have an increase in prostate volume.

3.  Men who took BOTH PLC and sildenafil had greater improvements than sildenafil (Viagra) alone.

4. PLC was better than Testosterone in the categories of general sexual well-being and erectile dysfunction (ED).

5. Depression improved in both the Testosterone group and the PLC group, although the PLC group had even more improvement in depression.

6. Fatigue was improved in both groups.

7.  It took about 3 months to see a significant effect.  These both need to be taken consistently for 6 months to see the maximum benefit.

8. In another study involving men that had their prostates removed, PLC at 2 grams a day was beneficial in improving sexual performance.

Another important supplement should be paired with ALC and PLC: Lipoic Acid

Lipoic acid has shown benefits in sexual dysfunction and in the complications of diabetes.  It improves mitochondrial energy performance and may help nerve function.

Lipoic acid is a powerful anti-oxidant.  ALC and PLC are not anti-oxidants and thus the lipoic acid can work well with ALC/PLC.

A summary of alpha lipoic acid’s potential benefits:

1. Nerve and vascular function improvement

2. Powerful anti-oxidant

3. Fights the aging effects of high blood sugar

4. Improves insulin function

5. Raises levels of the antioxidant glutathione

6.  Stops the activation of the master switch for inflammation,  NF-kappaB

7.  May improve age-related memory loss

8. May improves the senses of taste and smell

9. May boost immunity

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Summary:

ALC, PLC, and alpha lipoic acid are a normal and natural part of our biochemical pathways.  Our cells need these molecules to function well. It appears that supplementing with these may have benefits in certain circumstances, particularly the aging male.

References

Cavallini G, Caracciolo S, Vitali G, Modenini F, Biagiotti G. Carnitine versus androgen administration in the treatment of sexual dysfunction, depressed mood, and fatigue associated with male aging. Urology 2004;63:641-6.

Cavallini G, Modenini F, Vitali G, Koverech A. Acetyl-L-carnitine plus propionyl-L-carnitine improve efficacy of sildenafil in treatment of erectile dysfunction after bilateral nerve-sparing radical retropubic prostatectomy. Urology 2005;66:1080-5.

Gentile V, Vicini P, Prigiotti G, Koverech A, Di Silverio F. Preliminary observations on the use of propionyl-L-carnitine in combination with sildenafil in patients with erectile dysfunction and diabetes. Curr Med Res Opin 2004;20:1377-84.

Michetti PM, Rossi R, Bonanno D, Tiesi A, Simonelli C. Male sexuality and regulation of emotions: a study on the association between alexithymia and erectile dysfunctionInt J Impot Res 2006;18:170-4.

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