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L-carnitine: Its Benefits, Sources And Side Effects

L-carnitine is an amino acid, naturally produced in the body. The amino acid derivative is a commonly consumed supplement. The nutrient plays a significant role in the production of energy in your body. By transporting the fatty acids in your body to the mitochondria, which in turn, help burn the fat and convert it into energy.

L-carnitine is produced within your body, which is produced from the amino acids lysine and methionine. For your body to produce the required amount of L-carnitine, you must have good amounts of vitamin C. Apart from that, L-carnitine can also be obtained in small amounts by consuming foods such as meat, milk, fish etc. It is also available in the form of supplements [1] [2] .

The amino acid is the standard biologically active form of carnitine (the generic name for the quaternary ammonium compound involved in metabolism in mammals, plants and some bacteria), which is also found in the form of D-carnitine, Acetyl-L-carnitine, Propionyl-L-carnitine, and L-carnitine L-tartrate[3] .

Health Benefits Of L-carnitine

1. Aids weight loss

L-carnitine rose to fame in recent times with its proposed ability to aid weight loss. The amino acid supplement works by transporting the fatty acids into your cells, which will then be burned into energy. Although there have been contradictions on the supplement's ability to promote loss of weight, a study carried out on obese individuals supported the claim that L-carnitine does aid weight loss [4] .

2. Improves brain function

Some studies have pointed out that L-carnitine may help improve your brain's function. That is, it may help prevent age-related mental decline, help improve one's learning capacity, and help reverse the decline in brain function; preventing the onset of Alzheimer's and other brain diseases [5] .

3. Manages heart health

L-carnitine has been linked with reducing blood pressure and the inflammatory process associated with heart disease. It has also been asserted to possess the ability to improve the condition of individuals suffering from severe heart disorders, such as coronary heart disease and chronic heart failure [6] .

4. Boosts performance

Various studies have pointed out the benefits, although minor, L-carnitine has on improving one's sports performance. Due to this property, L-carnitine is a common name in the sports field. It may help improve your exercise recovery, increase oxygen supply to your muscles, improves your stamina, reduce muscle soreness and increase red blood cell production [3] .

5. Controls diabetes

L-carnitine may help you manage and reduce the symptoms of diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes. It is also beneficial for managing the risk factors of the condition, as the amino acid can help reduce the blood sugar levels[6] .

It is also said to be beneficial for providing relief from chest pain, kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, male infertility, acne, hair loss, autism, irregular heartbeat, clogged arteries, fatigue, low birth weight and various others. However, there is a lack of studies on the extended applicability and effectiveness of L-carnitine on various conditions [7] .

Side Effects Of L-carnitine

The L-carnitine supplements or injections, although safe for human use, can cause side-effects in certain individuals. Some of the common side effects of the amino acid are mentioned below [8] .

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Heartburn
  • Diarrhoea
  • Seizures
  • Fishy odour in urine, breath and sweat

Apart from that, pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid consuming L-carnitine [9] . Excessive L-carnitine may cause kidney failure, as well as worsen the symptoms of hypothyroidism. Also, avoid consuming L-carnitine for managing seizures, if you have already suffered a seizure before.

Dosage Of L-carnitine

Note: You must consult with a doctor before incorporating L-carnitine supplements or injections into your habits.

The dosage mentioned here is for adults [10] .

L-carnitine deficiency: 990 mg, two to three times daily (tablets or oral solution).

Chest pain: 900 mg to 2 g in 1 to 2 divided doses daily for 2 weeks to 6 months.

The standard dose of L-carnitine is 500-2,000 mg per day.

On A Final Note....

For vegans, producing as well obtaining L-carnitine can be impossible due to the lack of meat and fish consumption. The same goes for individuals suffering from certain genetic issues. However, one can gain the required amount of L-carnitine by consuming L-carnitine supplements.

View Article References
  1. [1] Fielding, R., Riede, L., Lugo, J., & Bellamine, A. (2018). l-Carnitine supplementation in recovery after exercise.Nutrients,10(3), 349.
  2. [2] Koeth, R. A., Lam-Galvez, B. R., Kirsop, J., Wang, Z., Levison, B. S., Gu, X., ... & Culley, M. K. (2018). l-Carnitine in omnivorous diets induces an atherogenic gut microbial pathway in humans. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 129(1), 373-387.
  3. [3] Novakova, K., Kummer, O., Bouitbir, J., Stoffel, S. D., Hoerler-Koerner, U., Bodmer, M., ... & Krähenbühl, S. (2016). Effect of l-carnitine supplementation on the body carnitine pool, skeletal muscle energy metabolism and physical performance in male vegetarians. European journal of nutrition, 55(1), 207-217.
  4. [4] Lee, B. J., Lin, J. S., Lin, Y. C., & Lin, P. T. (2015). Antiinflammatory effects of L-carnitine supplementation (1000 mg/d) in coronary artery disease patients.Nutrition,31(3), 475-479.
  5. [5] Chan, Y. L., Saad, S., Al-Odat, I., Oliver, B. G., Pollock, C., Jones, N. M., & Chen, H. (2017). Maternal L-carnitine supplementation improves brain health in offspring from cigarette smoke exposed mothers.Frontiers in molecular neuroscience,10, 33.
  6. [6] Fukami, K., Yamagishi, S. I., Sakai, K., Kaida, Y., Yokoro, M., Ueda, S., ... & Okuda, S. (2015). Oral L-carnitine supplementation increases trimethylamine-N-oxide but reduces markers of vascular injury in hemodialysis patients.Journal of cardiovascular pharmacology,65(3), 289-295.
  7. [7] da Silva, G. S., de Souza, C. W., da Silva, L., Maciel, G., Huguenin, A. B., de Carvalho, M., ... & Colafranceschi, A. (2017). Effect of L-Carnitine Supplementation on Reverse Remodeling in Patients with Ischemic Heart Disease Undergoing Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial.Annals of nutrition & metabolism,70(2), 106.
  8. [8] Lee, B. J., Lin, J. S., Lin, Y. C., & Lin, P. T. (2016). Effects of L-carnitine supplementation on lipid profiles in patients with coronary artery disease.Lipids in health and disease,15(1), 107.
  9. [9] Pala, R., Genc, E., Tuzcu, M., Orhan, C., Sahin, N., Er, B., ... & Sahin, K. (2018). L-Carnitine supplementation increases expression of PPAR-γ and glucose transporters in skeletal muscle of chronically and acutely exercised rats.Cellular and molecular biology (Noisy-le-Grand, France),64(1), 1-6.
  10. [10] Imbe, A., Tanimoto, K., Inaba, Y., Sakai, S., Shishikura, K., Imbe, H., ... & Hanafusa, T. (2018). Effects of L-carnitine supplementation on the quality of life in diabetic patients with muscle cramps.Endocrine journal, EJ17-0431.
Story first published: Tuesday, July 23, 2019, 18:00 [IST]