How can you tell if you have an L-carnitine deficiency?
The diet of this child can be described as massive malnutrition and has nothing to do with a healthy vegan diet. Almond milk can be consumed by children in small amounts in addition to healthy complementary food (i.e. from around the 8th month), but it is anything but an adequate breast milk substitute.
Furthermore, infants are NEVER vegans, as they are dependent on breast milk, which is known to be not vegan, but comes from a living being.
Understandable if the described child suffered from developmental disorders. However, these were not due to the L-carnitine deficiency that was also present, but to the fact that the child had received far too little food overall. It was really starving and suffered from a lack of all nutrients and vital substances. The iodine deficiency, which alone can lead to the symptoms described, was particularly pronounced.
Such exceptional phenomena - which are mostly gratefully taken up by the media - could be one reason why people still believe today that vegan children are automatically malnourished. But that is not the case.
In a healthy diet, it is important that all necessary nutrients and vital substances are included. Then the organism can also produce sufficient L-carnitine itself:
Substances that the body needs to produce L-carnitine
To produce L-carnitine, the organism not only needs lysine and methionine, but also vitamin C, vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B12, folic acid and iron.
So in the vegan diet - as in any other diet - it is important to ensure a reliable supply of all these nutrients and vital substances. If there are long-term bottlenecks in one of these substances, an L-carnitine deficiency can of course also occur.
- However, just like folic acid, vitamin C is not a problem in a vegan diet. On the contrary, both vitamins are rather poorly represented in the conventional diet, but not in the vegan diet.
- Vitamin B3 is found in relevant amounts in brown rice, mushrooms, peanuts, sesame seeds and legumes.
- Vitamin B6 is found, for example, in soy products, legumes, walnuts, sunflower seeds, potatoes, carrots, Brussels sprouts and bananas.
- You can read here that iron deficiency is not a typical vegan problem: Meeting iron requirements vegan, where we also described how you can meet your iron requirements with a vegan diet.
- We have explained how it works with vitamin B12 here: Vitamin B12 for vegans
With a healthy vegan diet, all building materials for the self-synthesis of L-carnitine are available, so that there can be no L-carnitine deficiency.
The Oregon State University therefore also writes that strict vegetarians (= vegans) normally synthesize sufficient L-carnitine, so an L-carnitine deficiency does not occur more frequently here than in the normal eating population.
Just a look at the symptoms of an L-carnitine deficiency makes the claim that vegans are at risk of such a deficiency seem almost ridiculous:
L-Carnitine Deficiency - The Symptoms
The deficiency symptoms that arise with an inadequate supply of L-carnitine include:
- Weight gain up to obesity
- Cardiovascular diseases
- high cholesterol
- Liver disorder up to liver cirrhosis
- Reduced performance, rapid fatigue, premature exhaustion
But vegetarians and vegans in particular are known for almost never being overweight. The vegan diet has also been shown to be associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Vegans generally have low cholesterol levels in every study. It is also not known that vegans often suffer from liver disease or premature fatigue.
Who Needs L-Carnitine Supplements?
A dietary supplement with L-carnitine is therefore not necessary for vegans. Of course you can - if you want - take L-carnitine on a trial basis, for example if you feel chronically tired or already suffer from pre-diabetes and observe whether your condition improves. But this applies to all people, regardless of their diet.
On the other hand, those who have to take L-carnitine in any case are dialysis patients and other chronically ill patients who receive L-carnitine from their doctor.
Cancer patients can also take L-carnitine to slow down the rapid weight loss that often sets in (3 x 1000 mg per day). It also reduces the side effects of chemotherapy, as L-carnitine protects the heart muscle cells. It is best not to take the L-carnitine in the evening, as it could wake you up.
Vegan foods with L-carnitine
|Food||L-carnitine content per 100 g or per specified amount|
|Tempeh||19.0 mg *|
|Oyster mushrooms||5.0 mg|
|Avocado (1 medium)||2.0 mg|
|Sweet potato||1.0 mg|
|Whole grain bread||0.4 mg|
* This information relates to a 1/2 cup and could not be confirmed by other sources, so that the L-carnitine content per 100 g tempeh could also be lower.
The table as a PDF for printing can be found here under this link.
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