Order the Steak…New Study Flawed

carnitine heart diesease

They’re calling out red meat again…

Not surprising. It seems like every month there’s another news story implicating red meat in heart disease.

But this time, it’s not because of the saturated fat or preservatives. A recent study found a new “culprit” in meat…

The supposed offender? Carnitine, an amino acid your body naturally produces. Carnitine breaks down fat and converts it into energy.1 It’s also an antioxidant and fights free radicals.

In the study just published in Nature Medicine,2 researchers claim that gut bacteria converts carnitine into a compound called TMAO. The TMAO then allows plaque to buildup, increasing the risk of heart disease. It halts the metabolism of cholesterol in the intestines, liver, and artery walls. The study also stated that vegetarians have different gut bacteria so they do not produce large amounts of TMAO after consuming carnitine.

We were suspicious of the study’s findings. So we did a little digging…

And our suspicions were confirmed. We found several flaws in the study you should know about.

We also found the truth behind carnitine. And how it can actually help your heart.

So, before you swear off red meat, know the facts…

Carnitine is a body-builder’s secret weapon for exercise-induced soreness. It reduces tissue damage and improves oxygen circulation to muscles. Use it to ease workout aches and pains within 3 weeks.

The study was done on both mice and humans. But that’s not the problem.

The mice got carnitine supplements, not foods. Carnitine supplements typically have pretty low absorption rates—20 percent at the most. But you absorb up to 75 percent from food.3

So, the study is skewed. But there’s an even bigger problem with it…

They only used a sample of six people. That’s right, just six people. And only one of them was a vegetarian.

The study claims vegetarians have different gut bacteria than meat eaters. But they had no other non-meat eaters to compare that single participant to.

So basically the researchers are saying all vegetarians have the same type of gut bacteria. Based on ONE participant. Talk about jumping to conclusions. And here’s the biggest problem of all…

The study specifically singles out red meat. What about other foods that contain carnitine? Poultry…dairy…and especially fish. Fish naturally contains TMAO.4

Here’s some perspective on that… A pound of red meat contains roughly 400 mg of carnitine.5 And some of that converts to TMAO. But a pound of fish already contains 1,700 mg of TMAO. No conversion necessary.

Fish is good for your heart. We even just reported how it can add healthy years to your life.6 So how can a food that contains so much more TMAO be healthy, and a food that produces so little of this compound be a heart disease risk?

We’re not satisfied with that conclusion. Carnitine has too many heart-healthy benefits to call it a “culprit.” In fact, the Mayo Clinic published a meta-analysis showing carnitine reduced overall mortality rates by 27 percent in more than 3,500 people.7 It also reduced ventricular arrhythmias by 65 percent and angina by 40 percent.

Carnitine aids in weight loss, helps with the onset of Alzheimer’s, increases sperm count, and improves male sexual function.8

This doesn’t sound like a supplement that leads to death. Or one you need to worry about when it comes to eating meat.

Bottom line: Red meat isn’t bad for you as long as you are eating the right kinds. Always buy grass-fed and organic meat. Grass-fed beef has higher levels of omega-3 which fights inflammation and strengthens the heart.9

So it’s actually a win-win. You can enjoy meat and help your heart.

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1 http://umm.edu/altmed/articles/carnitine-l-000291.htm
2 http://nature.com/nm/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nm.3145.html
3 http://mensfitness.com/nutrition/supplements/carnitine
4 http://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3690938
5 http://drwhitaker.com/the-truth-about-l-carnitine-and-heart-disease
6 http://institutefornaturalhealing.com/2013/04/eat-this-and-add-years-to-your-life/
7 http://medpagetoday.com/upload/2013/4/12/jmcp_ft88_4_2.pdf
8 http://umm.edu/altmed/articles/carnitine-l-000291.htm
9 http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=7948423&fulltextType=RA&fileId=S0007114510003090

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Health Topic: Anti-Aging | Cholesterol | Cognitive Health | Diet and Nutrition | Heart and Cardiovascular | Heart Disease | Sexual Health


  1. Wendy says:

    This “study” was not scientifically valid on several points. 1. 30 test subjects would make it valid, NOT 6! 2. ONE study means nothing. A MINIMUM of two studies that get the same results is necessary for scientific validity. This is Science 101 for cripes sake. This “study” means nothing.

  2. Eric Plott says:


    • Curt Smith says:

      Eric, the china study / Campbell has been debunked, found to use faulty techniques by many rebuttals.

      See: https://www.google.com/search?q=china+study+chris+masterjohn&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

      This article ends on, eat grass fed organic meat. In otherwords meat that our DNA and bodies where designed to eat from eons of evolution to adapt to … using our canines to eat meat. Prior to organized farming, when our DNA and bodies where adapting to being healthy on what we could find to eat, there where no regular vegetable sources as vegetarians advocate today. Plant based foods where not available 12 months a year.

      How can the meat-o-phobes possibly think that a filtered data study can possibly find fault with food our bodies where designed to eat? The meat o phobes do have it right that factory farm produced toxic junk our grocery stores sell as plastic shrink wrapped CAFO sources of meats are not healthy for us.

      Find local farmers to buy all of your food from at: http://www.localharvest.org/

      We buy our chicken, turkey, broths, cream, fermented vegies, some beef from local farmers.


  3. daniel says:

    what part of thou shall NOT KILL don’t you understand?

  4. Curt Smith says:

    Daniel, I was curious and found this interesting link:


    Just scanning, there seems to be statements on both sides of this issue. But this statement is congruent to my studies of good health:

    Romans 14:2 ESV / 8 helpful votes

    One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables.

    Interestingly, the above was written prior to Twinkies, coke/sodas and hydrogenated seed oils… so the “anything” was referencing any natural foods. :)


  5. teckalypso says:

    Daniel, apparently you’re the one who doesn’t understand. The Divine commandment, in Hebrew, is “Loh Tirtzakh” — “Thou shalt not murder.” (Exodus 20:13) The Hebrew root there is RaTZaKH, in the sense of homicide and assassination, whereas for kill, as in slaughtering an animal, the root is HaRaG or ShaKHaT — neither of which appears as a prohibition in the Torah. If you’re a native English speaker, then you know the difference between “kill” and “murder”. Murder only applies to other humans, and does not apply to cases of self-defense, nor always to what happens in war, nor to a death penalty justly invoked. You might as well protest against killing defenseless fruits, vegetables and grains in order to eat them. If you want to quote scripture, know what you’re talking about first. In Genesis 9:3, after the flood, Noah and his descendants are given permission by G-d for the first time to kill animals in order to consume meat. Apparently the Creator knows what’s best for His creations.

  6. Helen says:

    I am a little confused about the statement about carnitine “helps with the onset of Alzheimer’s”. I hope the writer meant the delay of onset?

  7. Oliver Stieber says:


    umm… there’s another study that’s more recent where lechitin was the precursor, It did talk about meat and eggs containing lechitin, but I know that soya lechitin is a health food suplement and it’s used as an emulsifier… and sure enough many brand name vegitable fact spreads use soya or sunflower lechitin as an emulsifying agent.

  8. Oliver Stieber says:

    TMAO in fish you say, that must be why the scottish and peope in alaska have such serous heart problems, too much salmon.

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