L-carnitine is a naturally occurring amino acid derivative that is often taken as a supplement and sometimes a weight loss injection. While many have found it useful for weight loss, it has also been shown to have other health benefits.
This article examines the potential benefits of L-carnitine supplements and explains how this nutrient functions in your body as well as its possible risks.
L-Carnitine – What It Is
L-carnitine is a nutrient and dietary supplement. Naturally our body can produce L-carnitine out of the amino acids lysine and methionine, but it needs vitamin C to produce it in sufficient amounts.
How Your Body Gets It
It is Innate
Our body naturally produces L-carnitine out of the amino acids lysine and methionine. A study even reveals that with boosts of vitamin C, the body can produce this nutrients it in sufficient amounts.
We also get small amounts of L-carnitine when we eat. The best food sources of L-carnitine are:
- Beef: 81 mg per 3 ounces (85 grams)
- Pork: 24 mg per 3 ounces (85 grams)
- Fish: 5 mg per 3 ounces (85 grams)
- Chicken: 3 mg per 3 ounces (85 grams)
- Milk: 8 mg per 8 ounces (227 ml)
Do you know that food sources of L-carnitine have a greater absorption rate than supplements?
According to one study, 57–84% of L-carnitine is absorbed when you eat, compared to only 14–18% when taken as a supplement.
Interestingly, you might want to concentrate on these foods rather than depending on supplements unless of course you are a vegan or you have certain genetic issue that makes you unable to produce or obtain enough. If this is your case, then L-carnitine becomes conditionally essential nutrient for you.
L-Carnitine got varieties
L-carnitine is the biologically active form of carnitine in our body, foods and most supplements, but there it may also take a few other forms.
- D-carnitine: It has been reported that this type of the supplement though seems inactive, may be the cause of carnitine deficiency in some people. It acts by inhibiting the absorption of other, more useful forms.
- Acetyl-L-carnitine: Called ALCAR in short. The brain loves this form of the supplement. No wonder studies suggest that it may of health benefits to people with neurodegenerative diseases.
- Propionyl-L-carnitine: If you have circulatory issues, such as peripheral vascular disease and high blood pressure. This type of l-carnitine might be just what you need to improve your blood flow. It has been reported to boost production of nitric oxide which improves blood flow.
- L-carnitine L-tartrate: If you take plenty of sports supplements, then you have had a taste of this form. Due to its rapid absorption rate, it has been said to reduce muscle soreness and enhance its recovery in exercise.
For most people, acetyl-L-carnitine and L-carnitine seem to be the most effective for general use. However, you should always pick the form that’s best for your personal needs and goals.
Multiple Health Benefits of L-Carnitine
Helps Fuel Your Body
On a cellular level, benefits of L-carnitine of note is its crucial role in the production of energy by transporting fatty acids into your cells’ where they are burnt to give energy.
About 98% of your L-carnitine stores are contained in your muscles, along with trace amounts in your liver and blood.
Popular Among Weight Loss Experts
Many supplement companies have produced and marketed this nutrient in form of supplements and weight loss injections but the question remains- does one of the benefits of L-Carnitine include weight loss?
Sounds reasonable to believe so since L-carnitine is said to help move more fatty acids into your cells to be burned for energy.
In reality though, the human body is extremely complex. Observations from both human and animal studies are shown mixed results. Some studies show it does have some weight loss benefits in obese individuals or older adults, while others say there are no such benefits and if there are, they are negligible.
Still want to try it?
Don’t worry L-carnitine weight loss injections or this nutrient as supplements in any other form won’t hurt your slimming down goals but remember that it is advisable to continue your diet and exercise routine.
Brain-boosting power effects
If you’re generally healthy, you probably already produce enough L-carnitine. But as you age and your biological clock weakens, it is possible that your L-carnitine stores are not replenished fast. (Same with diabetes and genetic conditions).
Studies on animals have suggest that L-carnitine can boost function in aging brains and possibly protect brain cells from damage. As with weight loss unfortunately, there isn’t much research yet on whether taking L-carnitine boosts brain power in younger, healthier people.
Any benefits for the heart?
The truth is that we still can’t say yet because report from studies are mixed. A 2013 review found that L-carnitine helped heart attack patients recover quickly. That same year, another study in mice found that L-carnitine in red meat might increase levels of trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO), which could cause clogged arteries.
A 2004 review of older medical research suggested that L-carnitine benefits people who’ve already had a heart attack the most.
Well we can’t say exactly for now how l-carnitine could help or harm healthy hearts. More studies are needed to put this to rest.
Are you an athlete?
Some research says L-carnitine supports workout goals but only in the long term. Remember that L-carnitine is a slow burn so don’t expect it to give you results overnight like caffeine or creatine. You might just have to stick with it and you might be running harder, better, faster, stronger in a few months.
On the flip side, a small study of professional athletes found that those who received 3 to 4 grams of L-carnitine immediately before a workout had better endurance.
Here’s how L-carnitine might improve your workouts over the long haul:
- Endurance. It could help your blood flow and keep your heart rate down during intense exercise.
- Muscle soreness. A 1996 study suggested that L-carnitine could reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness (aka DOMS).
- Oxygen supply. A 2005 study on mice found that L-carnitine might speed up red blood cell production, which keeps oxygen flowing freely to the muscles.
Promising benefits for those with type 2 diabetes
There is evidence that taking L-carnitine might alleviate some symptoms and risks.
Some research have suggested that acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) helps to tone down nerve pain and weakness caused by type 2 diabetes. A 2005 study reported that L-carnitine supplements could in addition lower blood sugar.
Although there isn’t much new research on direct links between type 2 diabetes and L-carnitine, but the bottom line is that L-carnitine is way more likely to help than to hurt. Confirm your options regarding this supplement with your doctor.
Any safety concerns regarding L-carnitine?
Generally, for most people, 2 grams or less per day appeared to be safe for long-term use without any serious side effects. Here are reports from a few studies.
However, L-carnitine supplements may raise your blood levels of trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) over time. High levels of TMAO are linked to an increased risk of atherosclerosis — a disease which clogs your arteries.
We all would welcome more studies on the safety of L-carnitine supplements.(who doesn’t want to feel at rest) As with any supplement, you should speak with your doctor before taking L-carnitine.
Any Help With Dosing?
The standard dose of L-carnitine is 500–2,000 mg per day.
Although dosage varies from study to study, here is an overview of the use and dose for each form:
- Acetyl-L-carnitine: This form is best for brain health and function. Doses vary from 600–2,500 mg per day.
- L-carnitine L-tartrate: This form is most effective for exercise performance. Doses vary from 1,000–4,000 mg per day.
- Propionyl-L-carnitine: This form is best for improving blood flow in those with high blood pressure or related health conditions. Doses vary from 400–1,000 mg per day.
Up to 2,000 mg (2 grams) per day seems safe and effective in the long term.
The bottom line
While the overall research on L-carnitine is mixed, it is still popular today as a fat burner although on its own it might not cause significant weight loss.
Reports suggest that this nutrient might have added benefits for health, brain function and disease prevention. Vegans and vegetarians with lower levels may benefit from supplementation of this nutrient.
Although, reports about benefits of l-carnitine abound, it is still advised to mention your intentions on it during your visit to the doctor.