In the body, carnitine is found almost everywhere and plays an important role in converting food into energy. Its main function is to assist in the breakdown of fat.
Carnitine is made from lysine and methionine in your liver, kidneys, and brain. Therefore, your being deficient in carnitine implies that you may lack lysine and methionine. Iron, niacin, vitamin B6, and vitamin C are also necessary to make carnitine.
Because of carnitine’s metabolic role, it has been studied for its effect on athletic performance, blood sugar levels, kidney function, cardiovascular health, and brain health.
However, it is mostly known for its purported weight loss benefits. Does it really work? That’s what we’re going to investigate.
What is L-carnitine?
L-Carnitine is a kind of amino acid that our body can synthesize by itself. It is available in our body – and performs energy-related functions in the system.
While they are classified as non-essential nutrients (because our body can synthesize them), they are very important in order to regulate certain capacities in our body.
The energy-related functions that it performs are concerned with the heart, the brain, and the muscular system. Apart from this, on a cellular level, the nutrient interacts with mitochondria in order to carry some fatty acids to the mitochondria – these are to be used for energy processes.
It is also responsible for taking away the waste products of the process. Apart from this, L-Carnitine also acts as an antioxidant. The kidneys perform the function of regulating the level of Carnitine.
Some vegans and people with genetic conditions may not be able to produce enough. Because of this, L-carnitine is a conditionally essential nutrient.
The supplementation of L-carnitine may help improve levels of L-carnitine in failing hearts, boosting heart health and circulation in the short term.
In your body, foods, and most supplements, you’ll find L-carnitine, a biologically active form of carnitine.
Here are a few more types of carnitine:
- D-carnitine: By inhibiting the absorption of other, more useful, forms, this inactive form may cause carnitine deficiency in your body.
- Propionyl-L-carnitine: Circulatory issues, such as peripheral vascular disease and high blood pressure, are well-suited to this form of exercise. Blood flow may be improved as nitric oxide is produced.
- Acetyl-L-carnitine: Often called ALCAR, this may be the best form of meditation for the brain. Research suggests people suffering from neurodegenerative diseases may benefit from it.
- L-carnitine L-tartrate: A rapid absorption rate makes this a common ingredient in sports supplements. Muscle recovery and soreness may be reduced with its use.
The most effective form of L-carnitine and acetyl-L-carnitine is L-carnitine for general use. You should, however, choose the form that’s most suitable for your own needs and goals.
Does L-carnitine Help You Lose Weight?
Taking L-carnitine supplements to lose weight makes sense, theoretically.
You might think that by helping move fatty acids to your cells for burning, L-carnitine would enhance your ability to lose weight and burn fat.
However, both human and animal studies yield contradictory results due to the complex nature of the human body.
There was no difference in weight loss between the women who took L-carnitine and those who did not take it during an eight-week study of 38 women who exercised four times per week.
Additionally, five participants who took L-carnitine experienced nausea or diarrhoea.
Another human study examined L-carnitine’s impact on fat loss during a 90-minute stationary bike workout. Supplements were ineffective during the study.
However, one analysis of nine studies – most of them involving obese people or older adults – found that taking L-carnitine caused people to lose an average of 2.9 pounds (1.3 kg) more weight.
In a younger, more active population, more research is needed to confirm the benefits of L-carnitine.
It may help obese individuals or older adults lose weight, but a comprehensive diet and exercise regimen must first be established.
I have also reviewed a lot of other weight loss supplements, if you are interested, you might check them out.
Health Benefits of L-Carnitine Supplement
L-Carnitine is found to aid in improving memory in those who find that their memory systems are slowly failing to work.
This includes the elderly (whose memory problems are associated with age) and alcoholics (whose memory problems are induced by excessive consumption of alcohol).
Studies show that L-Carnitine helps slightly with regard to Alzheimer’s disease as well – by reducing the signs of dementia.
Owing to the fact that L-Carnitine works closely with the mitochondria, the nutrient also aids with improving metabolism and by extension, reducing the signs and symptoms of ageing.
The nutrient also aids men, as it helps deal with problems exclusive to them, such as male infertility, male ‘menopause’ and diseases such as Peyronie’s disease.
These problems lead to sexual dysfunction, and the nutrient helps combat the same – by improving sperm count and energy levels while reducing the possible instances of pain.
By improving the functioning of the brain, L-Carnitine can also help counteract mild depression – this is achieved by regulating the balance of the chemicals in the brain. This is particularly helpful for the elderly.
It is also found to improve blood circulation in the brain, particularly in those instances where it is insufficient.
Apart from this, L-Carnitine is also found to be helpful in reducing nerve pain in those who are undergoing the same owing to diabetes.
Thus, it can be concluded that not only does the nutrient have several benefits of its own – it also helps reduce the adverse symptoms associated with some degenerative diseases.
The following is a list of effects L-carnitine can have on your body:
- Can be converted to acetylcholine in your body
- Energizes the heart
- Enhances short- and long-term memory
- Helps convert stored body fat into energy
- Improves mental focus and energy
- Increases oxygen availability and respiratory efficiency
- Lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol
- May slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease
- Needed for the transport of long-chain fatty acids into the cells
- Prevents DNA degeneration
- Promotes DNA repair from mutations that occur from free radical production
- Raises HDL (good) cholesterol
- Reduces the build-up of acids and metabolic waste
- Reduces triglycerides
Symptoms of L-Carnitine Deficiency
As previously stated, L-Carnitine can be synthesized by the body – and hence, instances of deficiency of this nutrient are rare. However, this does not mean that the system can survive without proper amounts.
People who have hereditary disorders or metabolic disorders are at risk of being deficient in L-Carnitine. Also at high risk are those who tend to eat a low protein diet and combine that with overly rigorous exercising.
There are several symptoms that point to the fact that a person is deficient in the nutrient. These include muscle pain and muscle weakness, combined with low levels of energy, all of which contribute towards an increased sense of fatigue.
It is also possible that they display signs of feeling low, bordering on a possible depression. Tests indicate that the deficiency is also characterized by high levels of cortisol, and irregularity in heart rate.
Below is a summary of the L-carnitine deficiency causes:
- Deficiency of folic acid
- Deficiency of S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), an important compound found in all living cells
- Deficiency of vitamin B6, B12, or C
- Ipecac syrup (used to remove poisons before they can be absorbed)
- Iron deficiency
- Lysine deficiency
- Pivampicillin (an antibiotic)
- Pyrimethamine (antiparasitic and antimalaria drug)
- Sulfadiazine (used to treat infection)
- Valproic acid (an anticonvulsant)
- Vegetarian diet
L-carnitine Supplement Side Effects
L-carnitine is well tolerated by most people. L-carnitine may, however, cause digestive side effects in some individuals. These include:
- Stomach cramps
Some people may also complain of a “fishy” body odour, which is generally not harmful but can be bothersome.
L-creatine may increase long-term risks of cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis, according to some studies.
Taking L-carnitine supplements may interact with some antibiotics or anticonvulsants.
L-carnitine may interact with certain medications, so anyone considering taking this supplement should discuss their medications with their doctor.
Dosage of L-carnitine Supplement
Those who wish to take L-carnitine should consult a doctor first. Any additional treatment that the patient needs could be supported by the doctor’s recommendations and help them avoid reactions and interactions.
L-carnitine is generally well tolerated. A daily dosage of 1 to 3 grams is recommended. People with genetic abnormalities or other conditions that cause a lack of L-carnitine should consult their doctor for specific dosage instructions.
L-carnitine Supplement Alternatives: Food Sources
L-Carnitine is a protein, and hence, it makes sense that protein-rich foods would contain an adequate amount of the same.
This includes red meat (especially lamb), apart from beef and fish. Dairy products are also advisable as a source of protein. Red meat products are also significantly better contributors than white meat for this nutrient.
Vegetarian sources for L- Carnitine include asparagus, mushrooms, wheat, and avocado, though they contain lesser amounts of nutrients than meat.
Additionally, if your stores are low, your body can make it naturally by combining methionine and lysine.
Therefore, L-carnitine supplements are only necessary in rare cases, such as disease treatment.
L-carnitine is an amino acid that is naturally produced by the body. The liver and kidneys produce enough of the compound to prevent deficiency in healthy people.
If you are deficient in L-carnitine, you may need to take dietary supplements or a supplement. If you are considering taking L-carnitine supplements, it is advisable to speak to your doctor.
L-carnitine supplements may be of interest to some individuals for their potential benefits, such as aiding athletic performance or weight loss. Further study will be required to confirm these benefits, however.