Correlation of carnitine levels to methionine and lysine intake.Physiol Res. 2000; 49(3):399-402.PR
Plasma carnitine levels were measured in two alternative nutrition groups--strict vegetarians (vegans) and lactoovovegetarians (vegetarians consuming limited amounts of animal products such as milk products and eggs). The results were compared to an average sample of probands on mixed nutrition (omnivores). Carnitine levels were correlated with the intake of essential amino acids, methionine and lysine (as substrates of its endogenous synthesis), since the intake of carnitine in food is negligible in the alternative nutrition groups (the highest carnitine content is in meat, lower is in milk products, while fruit, cereals and vegetables contain low or no carnitine at all). An average carnitine level in vegans was significantly reduced with hypocarnitinemia present in 52.9% of probands. Similarly, the intake of methionine and lysine was significantly lower in this group due to the exclusive consumption of plant proteins with reduced content of these amino acids. Carnitine level in lactoovovegetarians was also significantly reduced, but the incidence of values below 30 micromol/l was lower than in vegans representing 17.8% vs. 3.3% in omnivores. Intake of methionine and lysine was also significantly reduced in this group, but still higher compared to vegans (73% of protein intake covered by plant proteins). Significant positive correlation of carnitine levels with methionine and lysine intake in alternative nutrition groups indicates that a significant portion of carnitine requirement is covered by endogenous synthesis. Approximately two thirds of carnitine requirement in omnivores comes from exogenous sources. The results demonstrate the risks of alternative nutrition with respect to the intake of essential amino acids, methionine and lysine, and with respect to the intake and biosynthesis of carnitine.