Daily dose of 600 milligrams of carnitine reduces muscle cramps
Whether healthy people and athletes may benefit from this exploratory study? We do not know. The Japanese authors used diabetics as test subjects. Diabetics often suffer from muscle cramps, and in this group, 600 milligram diabetes supplementation reduced the number of cramping attacks to 25 percent. Interesting results. It is a pity that this study had no control group...
Muscle cramps and diabetes
If you should believe some studies, about 40 percent of people sometimes suffer from muscle cramps. That percentage is higher with diabetics. In people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, 58 and 76 percent, respectively, may suffer from cramping.
Muscle cramps also occur more frequently in people with cirrhosis of the liver. According to a small study, carnitine supplementation can provide relief. [Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2015 Aug;13(8):1540-3.] Hence, the researchers wondered whether carnitine is also interesting for diabetics who suffer from muscle cramps.
The researchers found 25 people with type 1 and 2 diabetes, who suffered from muscle cramps and were willing to use carnitine for 4 months, and 21 completed the study. They used two capsules each day containing 300 milligrams of carnitine. The daily dose was therefore 600 milligrams. There was no placebo group.
In cells, carnitine helpt to convert fatty acids into energy. According to in vitro and pre-clinical animal studies, carnitine supplementation has spectacular effects, but human research is less clear-cut. This is probably because carnitine supplementation is only effective if you ingest it with a meal - or at least if the concentration of insulin and glucose is high. You can read more about this here and here.
In the carnitine group, the number of cramp attacks per month decreased to 25 percent. This trend was statistically significant.
During the experiment, the Japanese determined the quality of life of the test subjects several times, using a standardized questionnaire. The figure above shows that the quality of life in the carnitine group increased. Carnitine supplementation made the test subjects feel more vital and less painful.
"Our study has some limitations", the researchers acknowledge. "Patient allocation was not randomized or double-blinded because the attending physician prescribed L-carnitine supplementation according to the patients' wishes. The current study did not have a control group, and it is difficult to disprove a placebo effect. More studies [...] are needed to confirm the current these findings."
"Our findings indicate that L-carnitine supplementation alleviates muscle cramps and improves the quality of life in diabetic patients with muscle cramps. Thus, clinicians should consider L-carnitine supplementation in diabetic patients with muscle cramps."
And no, the researchers were not paid by a producer of supplements.
Endocr J. 2018 May 28;65(5):521-526.
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