The Way Up
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The Way Up Newsletter
Vol. 11 8/15/99

"Our consciousness is the substance of our world."
Joel Goldsmith, Practising The Presence


Hello out there. Well I just returned from 2 enjoyable weeks watching the Women's Tennis Tournaments at La Costa & Manhattan Beach.

What struck me was the number of players sidelined by injuries. Persistent injury prompted Monica Seles to cancel her appearance. Injury forced Steffi Graf to withdraw in the middle of an excellent match at La Costa & within the week to announce her retirement because of the frustration of recurrent injuries. Natasha Zvereva conceded a match because of a sprained ankle. Barbara Schett had her play hampered by a problem with her right wrist. Lindsey Davenport had her left thigh wrapped & played poorly, seemingly related, though not used as an excuse.


Actually most of us are injured at some time or another & not necessarily related to extreme physical acitivity, so this question applies to all.

A number of nutritional supplements help protect against strains, sprains, pulls, tears, breaks, but I sat there & started thinking about the amino acid L-Proline. For years I have recommended it as part of a program for healing or preventing injury. I suspect few professional athletes or extremely active individuals specifically add L-proline to their supplement list. Yet in testing plasma levels of amino acids for almost 25 years on hundreds of people, I have rarely seen normal L-proline levels, even when most of the other amino acids are normal.

L-Proline is what is called a "conditionally essential amino acid" which means when your body has enough of the amino acids which can convert to L-Proline available & the conversion process takes place properly, you won't need intake of the L-Proline. The amino acids which can convert to L-Proline are ornithine, glutamate, & arginine. This presupposes enough of the precursors are left over from other functions to be available for the conversion, & that there are adequate co-factors of vitamins, minerals, & the specific form of vitamin B6 needed for amino acid conversions, pyridoxal-5-phosphate. In fact, a vitamin C or a pyridoxal-5-phosphate deficiency will result in a proline deficiency. When such precursors & co-factors are inadequate L-Proline becomes an "essential amino acid" which must be obtained from the diet or as a supplement.

L-Proline is concentrated in high protein foods like meat, cottage cheese, & wheat germ. There is more in dairy than in meat protein.


About half the body's proline is contained in collagen. Collagen accounts for 25-30% of the body's proteins. Collagen is the main supportive protein of skin, tendons, ligaments, bone, cartilage, & connective tissues. It literally holds your body together. You can see if this is deficient the structure will be weaker & more injury-prone.


There is general consensus from studies that strenuous exercise suppresses protein synthesis & stimulates protein degradation in muscles. Following exercise there is a recovery of protein synthesis especially maximized with the proper nutrient intake before & after exercise.

There is much focus on carbohydrate loading for intense exercise, but amino acids are also critical & so are fats. Generally various protein powders are used by athletes, but the protein in these powders must be broken down & metabolized to the various amino acids. I suggest that protein powders be used, but also free form multi amino acid capsules, in the relatively high dose of 5 capsules 3-4 times daily on days of maximal performance. This is more efficiently used for muscle conservation & building & conversion to energy. We'll specifically focus on the performance benefits of the amino acid:


L-Carnitine facilitates the production of energy from fats. It can be formed from the amino acids L-Lysine & L-Methionine, assuming you have a surplus & all factors in the conversion are working as discussed with the L-Proline formation. Or you can directly supplement L- Carnitine. Dietary l-carnitine from foods ( mostly animal) only supplies about 50 mg daily. Carnitine is almost non-existent in plants.

Strenuous exercise produces large decreases in plasma & muscle free carnitine levels. L-Carnitine supplementation can result in greater & longer production of muscular energy. Studies also showed L-Carnitine increases maximum oxygen utilization, decreases the heart rate for a given work load, & decreases the pain causing lactic acid build up in muscles.

Multiple studies using from 1-6 grams of L-Carnitine daily show that increasing the levels of free carnitine allows greater amounts of fatty acids to be used as an energy source during intense exercise. L-Carnitine given 1-2 hours before exercise produces more efficient exercise performance & decreases exercise induced free radical production.

In fact, numerous studies have shown L- Carnitine supplementation improves exercise tolerance & performance, total work output, cardiac function, blood lipid levels,& time to exertional pain in patients with angina, congestive heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, chronic respiratory insufficiency, & those on hemodialyses as well as athletes & those who are healthy.

One drawback of L-Carnitine is the price, but it is also available as a presciption product under the name of Carnitor, if you are lucky enough to have insurance coverage of such.

Well, enough musings about injuries & maximum physical performance for now.

Again, I love to hear from you with requests for topics, etc.

Priscilla Slagle M.D.

To heal is to make happy.
Course In Miracles
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