L-carnitine - what it is, properties, effects on weight loss + opinions

L-carnitine supports not only weight reduction, but also your liver and... fertility.

Nina Wawryszuk - AuthorAuthorNina Wawryszuk
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Nina Wawryszuk specialises in sports supplementation, strength training and psychosomatics. On a daily basis, in addition to writing articles for Natu.Care, as a personal trainer she helps athletes improve their performance through training, diet and supplementation.

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L-carnitine - what it is, properties, effects on weight loss + opinions
29 April, 2024
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There are flakes stuck to certain substances. And just as caffeine stimulates and magnesium is for cramps, L-carnitine... slims you down. It's just that these and other substances offer many more interesting properties.

What if I told you that L-carnitine is more effective at supporting your liver and sugar-insulin metabolism than it is at shedding 5 kilos for you? Together with nutritionist and trainer Marta Kaczorek, we're ripping off the fat burner patch of L-carnitine - it can do so much more.

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From this article you will learn:

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  • What L-carnitine is.
  • .
  • What it does and the effects of supplementation.
  • What is L-carnitine?
  • Whether L-carnitine aids weight loss.
  • What it does.
  • What are the contraindications and side effects of L-carnitine.
  • .

See also:

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L-carnitine - what is it?

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L-carnitine is the biologically active form of carnitine used by the body. Over 95% of L-carnitine stores are found in the muscles, with trace amounts in the blood, liver, heart and kidneys. It plays an important role in energy production by transporting fatty acids into the mitochondria of cellsand.

The process of transporting fatty acids into the mitochondria of cells is important because in the mitochondria fatty acids are converted into energy .

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Mitochondria are like a furnace that produces energy for the body, and fatty acids are the wood that is burned in this furnace. Without the supply of 'wood' - the 'furnace' will not be able to produce energy efficiently.
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Marta Kaczorek.

Marta Kaczorek clinical nutritionist and personal trainer

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Why the name?

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"Carnitine" comes from the Latin carocarnis, meaning "meat", as it was first isolated specifically from muscle in 1905and.

Are carnitine and L-carnitine the same thing?

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Carnitine and L-carnitine are essentially the same thing - the terms are often used interchangeably. Carnitine is an amino acid that is naturally produced in the body and taken in from food. L-carnitine, on the other hand, is the biologically active form of carnitine, i.e. the one that is used by your bodyand.

What does the 'L' next to carnitine stand for?

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Marta Kaczorek explains:

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Carnitine can exist in the body in two forms that mirror each other - one form is D-carnitine and the other is L-carnitine. But only one of these - L-carnitine - is active and actually useful to your body.

How does L-carnitine work?

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Research to date suggests that its beneficial effects on the body may be due to supporting cellular energy production, increasing antioxidant capacity, protecting cell membranes from oxidative stress, reducing inflammation and increasing nitric oxide levelsand.

Carnitine types

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There are four forms of carnitine. Below you will read how they differ and how they workand.

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It is the most effective form of carnitine.

Form

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Characteristics

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L-carnitine L-tartrate

Commonly added to dietary supplements for athletes due to its rapid absorption rate. It can help with post-workout muscle soreness and recovery, as well as fat burning.

Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR)

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This is probably the most effective form for nervous system and brain health. It best crosses the blood-brain barrier. Research suggests it may also benefit people with neurodegenerative diseases.

Propionyl-L-carnitine

This form works well for cardiovascular problems such as peripheral vascular disease and high blood pressure. According to older scientific studies, it can increase nitric oxide production, which improves blood flow.

D-carnitine

This inactive form has been shown to reduce blood levels of carnitine and increase fat accumulation, leading to liver inflammation and oxidative stress.

L-carnitine - properties

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Many people choose to supplement with L-carnitine because of its health benefits. Previous research suggests that this amino acid potentiallyand:

Promotes weight loss

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L-carnitine is a common ingredient present in diet supplements for weight loss. A comprehensive review of 2020 studies involving 37 studies with 2292 participants suggests that L-carnitine supplementation for weight lossand:

  • produced the best results at a dose of 2000 mg per day,
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  • reduced body weight by an average of 1.21 kg,
  • .
  • reduced BMI by 0.24 kg/m2,
  • .
  • reduced body fat mass by an average of 2.08 kg,
  • .
  • had no effect on abdominal fat content.
  • .

Are these good results? Yes, weight and fat loss (especially in overweight people) is always desirable, but a calorie deficit (you eat less than your energy requirements)and is key.

Does L-carnitine work without exercise?

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No, L-carnitine doesn't work without exercise. Just taking capsules (even high doses like 4,000 mg) or L-carnitine injections alone will not reduce body weight. For this, you need a reduction diet preferably combined with physical activityand. L-carnitine can only help the weight loss process.

Improves exercise performance

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Several scientific studies suggest that L-carnitine can help athletes in several ways. Its effects onand:

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  • extending performance and efficiency during training,
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  • muscle regeneration,
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  • delaying the feeling of fatigue,
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  • increasing oxygen supply to muscles,
  • .
  • improving blood flow and nitric oxide production,
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  • reducing muscle soreness,
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  • production of red blood cells (transport oxygen in the body and muscles).
  • .

L-carnitine will be a helpful dietary supplement for active people, and is best taken approximately 30-60 minutes before training in a serving of 2000 mg.

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Review of 2021 studies suggests that L-carnitine has a positive effect on performance during intense exercise, reducing the sensation of fatigue, as well as increasing power and strength for performance as well as strength training.
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Marta Kaczorek.

Marta Kaczorek clinical nutritionist and personal trainer

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Promotes the treatment of type II diabetes

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L-carnitine may be a helpful dietary supplement for patients with type 2 diabetes.

A review of 41 studies involving 2,900 people was published in 2023, suggesting that L-carnitine supplementation mayand:

  • lower fasting blood sugar and haemoglobin levels,
  • .
  • reduce the HOMA-IR insulin resistance index,
  • .
  • improve insulin sensitivity in people with diabetes, overweight or obesity,
  • .
  • help improve the function of pancreatic cells responsible for insulin production,
  • .

The beneficial effects of L-carnitine may be due to its effect on altering insulin receptors and the expression of specific genes that regulate sugar metabolismand.

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HOMA-IR is an index calculated from glucose and insulin concentrations. It provides a baseline test for insulin resistance, which is now increasingly being diagnosed.
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Marta Kaczorek.

Marta Kaczorekclinical nutritionist and personal trainer

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Improves semen quality

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A comprehensive review of 2023 studies suggests that L-carnitine may improve fertility in menand.

The review included 69 scientific papers involving 4,000 adult men with confirmed infertility or subfertility. Nutritional therapies or the use of dietary supplements to improve fertility were studied.

L-carnitine supplementation increased sperm motility and improved pregnancy rates. However, it had no effect on sperm concentration or semen volumeand. For improving fertility parameters, the combination of L-carnitine and selenium  had the best effect.

Improves female fertility

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A review of 2018 research suggests a promising role for L-carnitine in improving female fertility. L-carnitine and acetyl-L-carnitine have tremendous potential to regulate oxidative stress and metabolic regulation of the female reproductive systemand.

Both of these forms, alone or in combination with other nutrients, as well as antioxidants, have potent effects in improving or restoring female reproductive functionand.

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Promotes liver health

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In research studies, L-carnitine supplementation has been shown to have a protective effect on the liver, particularly in patients with NAFLD - non-alcoholic fatty liver diseaseand.

A 2023 meta-analysis that included eight studies involving 544 participants with NAFLD found that L-carnitine reduced (improved) liver enzymes ALT, AST and triglycerides compared to placebo. Daily portions ranged from 500 to 2250 mg of L-carnitine.

Despite promising research, L-carnitine is not a popular active ingredient in liver supplements. Manufacturers of supplements rely on curcumin, glutathione, silymarin or artichoke extracts.

Promotes the treatment of PCOS

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Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) polycystic ovary syndrome) is an endocrine disorder affecting women of reproductive age. It affects, among other things, menstrual disorders and fertility problemsand. The problem can affect 8-20% of women of reproductive age worldwide .

The 2019 study included 74 female patients with PCOS. They took 3,000 mg of L-carnitine per day for 12 weeks.

After this time, the subjects observedand:

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  • significant improvement in insulin sensitivity,
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  • increase in blood levels of HDL (so-called good cholesterol),
  • .
  • reduction of LDL (so-called bad cholesterol) levels in the blood,
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  • reduction of BMI,
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  • more regular menstrual cycles,
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  • reduction of hirsutism (excessive hair in typically male areas),
  • .

May support brain health

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A 2020 research analysis suggests that acetyl-L-carnitine supplementation (ALCAR) may prevent age-related mental impairment and improve learning parametersand.

In a 2018 study involving people with dementia, 1,500 milligrams (mg) of ALCAR daily for 28 weeks significantly improved brain function.

Other studies in healthy individuals, however, have yielded mixed resultsand. Remember, dementia is best prevented and the nervous system is looked after from a young age.

L-carnitine and depression

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Scientists are very cautious about the use of dietary supplements in the course of depression, as drug treatment combined with therapy has the best results. Several studies have examined whether L-carnitine affects the course of this illness when used as addition to therapy.

In a 2018 review, researchers analysed 12 studies involving a total of 791 patients with depression. It suggests that acetyl-L-carnitine supplementation reduced depressive symptoms compared to placeboand.

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Interestingly, in some cases it was noted that supplementation with this amino acid caused fewer side effects than antidepressants .

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If you suffer from depression or other disorders, remember to first and foremost consult your treatment with your doctor, and consider supplementation as a supplement.

L-carnitine and autism

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Polish researchers have addressed the interesting topic of the effects of L-carnitine on the autism spectrum in Journal of Clinical Medicine the 2021and. The pooled trial data suggest that L-carnitine improves neurological and neuropsychiatric function in patients on the autism spectrum. 

L-carnitine therapy shows positive correlations between an increase in serum L-carnitine and a reduction in specific autistic symptoms.

L-carnitine for ... alopecia

A 2018 study suggests that systematic rubbing of lotions containing propionyl-l-carnitine, among other ingredients, is effective in alleviating hair loss associated with androgenetic alopecia, as well as promoting hair strand growthand.

Daily requirements for L-carnitine

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There is no set daily requirement for L-carnitine. In 1989. The Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine concluded that carnitine is not an essential nutrientand.

Hence, healthy children and adults do not need to consume carnitine from food or supplements, as the liver and kidneys synthesise sufficient amounts to meet daily requirements .

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The body produces approximately 15-20 mg of carnitine per day. Its natural production takes place in the kidneys and liver. There is approximately  20 g of carnitine in your body.

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Vegetarians have relatively lower plasma carnitine levels than meat eaters, as vegetarian products contain very small amounts of carnitine. In strict vegetarians, most carnitine (>90%) is produced endogenously.
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Marta Kaczorek.

Marta Kaczorek clinical nutritionist and personal trainer

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Carnitine deficiency

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Carnitine deficiency is rare and most often results from genetic problems associated with disorders of the carnitine transport mechanism or due to disease (e.g. chronic renal failure)and. Carnitine deficiency manifests as weakness, skeletal muscle atrophy, muscle failure, fatigue .

Carnitine excess

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Over-supplementation of L-carnitine most commonly occurs as a result of taking too many dietary supplements with the compound - typically more than 4,000 mg per day. Excessive supplementation can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhoea, fishy skin, muscle weakness in people with uremia and seizure disorders in people with seizure disordersand.

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Don't overreact

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Doses as high as 4,500 mg have been used in scientific studies, but participants took these amounts under controlled, safe conditions for a strictly defined period of time. Remember that you can achieve results at 2000 mg per day - more does not mean better.

Best sources of L-carnitine

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Most L-carnitine can be found in red meat - beef, pork, mutton, horse meat and kangaroo meat, poultry, and in smaller amounts in other animal products such as eggs, milk, cheeseand.

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The content of this amino acid in food products depends on the conditions under which the animal was raised, the heat treatment and can vary considerably. However, it is not difficult to obtain L-carnitine from food.

Products rich in L-carnitine

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Product

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L-carnitine content per 100 g

Kangaroo meat

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637 mg

Konin

423 mg

Lamb

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190 mg

Beef

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139 mg

Duck fillet

73 mg

Siderophore (fungus)

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53 mg

Turkey fillet

51-200 mg

Buttermilk

38 mg

Pork

25-60 mg

Chicken fillet

13-34.4 mg

Milk

1.4-42.8 mg

It is estimated that the average person consumes 20-200 mg of carnitine dailyand.

Food-derived carnitine has a relatively high absorbability of approximately 54-76%. The bioavailability of carnitine from dietary supplements is much lower at around 14-18%.

How to use L-carnitine?

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A wide range of dosages have been used in studies on the potential benefits of L-carnitine. Typically, 500-4000 mg per day consumed on an empty stomach or 0.5-1 hour before physical activityand.

has been shown to be effective.

Daily intake may vary depending on the manufacturer, form of carnitine and purpose of supplementation, but efficacy has been shown in research studies for use:

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  • L-carnitine-L-tartrate: to improve exercise performance and support fat burning, 1,000 to 4,000 mg per day is usedand.
  • Acetyl-L-carnitine: to improve brain function, 500 to 3000 mg per day is used .
  • Propionyl-L-carnitine: for cardiovascular support, 500-2000 mg per day is used .
  • .

L-carnitine before or after a meal?

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To increase the absorption of L-carnitine, it is best taken on an empty stomach or approximately 0.5-1 hour before a meal. Remember that the bioavailability of carnitine from dietary supplements is low at only 14-18%and.

Adequate amounts of vitamin C and of iron in the diet promote natural carnitine production and absorption from dietary supplementsand.

What not to combine L-carnitine with

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L-carnitine should not be combined with medicines that affect blood clotting (e.g. warfarin, acenocoumarol) and should not be taken at the same time as medicines containing thyroid hormones. L-carnitine exacerbates or weakens the effect of these preparations.

L-carnitine - is it worth it?

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Yes, it is worth supplementing with L-carnitine, especially if you don't eat meat, which is a natural, well-absorbed source of it (the body absorbs about 54-76%). It can be helpful during weight loss and can also be used to support diabetes, PCOS or to improve sperm quality.

Remember that supplementation alone will not help with the ailments mentioned above, and you should consult your doctor for intake. Treat L-carnitine supplements as a supplement and support, not as the main source of treatment or weight loss.

Contraindications to the use of L-carnitine

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Contraindications to the use of L-carnitine includeand:

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    .
  • pregnancy (the effect of supplementation on the health of the baby and mother is not known),
  • .
  • breastfeeding,
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  • use of medications affecting blood clotting, medications containing thyroid hormones,
  • .
  • diagnosed kidney disease or epilepsy,
  • .

Before starting supplementation, consult your doctor to determine the appropriate daily dose, avoid interactions with medications and adjust the time of intake so that L-carnitine helps - not hurts.

L-carnitine - side effects

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L-carnitine side effects usually occur at doses above 4,000 mg and cause: nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhoea and a fishy smell to sweat or breath. It can also cause muscle weakness in people with uremia and convulsions in people with seizure disordersand.

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Why the fishy smell?

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Some studies report a fishy odour on breath and sweat after L-carnitine supplementation. This is probably due to the formation of trimethylamine. This compound is formed during the decomposition of plants and animals, and is responsible for the smell of bad fish, some infections and bad breathand.

See also:

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Summary

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  • L-carnitine is the biologically active form of carnitine used by the body. It plays an important role in energy production by transporting fatty acids into the mitochondria of cells.
  • L-carnitine is an active form of carnitine used by the body.
  • More than 95% of L-carnitine stores are found in muscle, with trace amounts in the blood, liver, heart and kidneys.
  • L-carnitine can promote weight loss, but it works best when combined with a calorie deficit diet and exercise.
  • .
  • L-carnitine supplementation can support patients with diabetes and liver disease, and it is also helpful for women with PCOS and fertility problems in both sexes.
  • Most L-carnitine can be found in red meat - beef, pork, mutton, horse meat and kangaroo meat.
  • .
  • L-carnitine deficiency is rare and excess usually occurs due to unwise supplementation.
  • .
  • Dosage for supplementation depends on the purpose of use and expected effects, but is usually 500-4000 mg daily on an empty stomach.
  • Before supplementation, it is a good idea to consult with your doctor about its appropriateness and the daily dose so as not to harm yourself.
  • .

FAQ

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. Does L-carnitine burn fat?.

A scientific review from 2020, which included 37 studies, found that L-carnitine supplementation at 2,000 mg per day may help with fat loss because it promotes the transfer of more fatty acids into cells for burning and energy.

. How much L-carnitine for weight loss?.

L-carnitine for weight loss is usually taken in a dose of 2000 mg per day. Supplementation must be combined with physical activity and a reduction diet reduction diet to see weight loss results.

. Does CLA with green tea plus L-carnitine work?.

The dietary supplement CLA with green tea plus L-carnitine is a weight loss support capsule. The active ingredients in the formula can help metabolise fats, regulate glycaemia and support the cardiovascular system. However, consuming the capsules alone does not cause weight loss, for this you need a reduction diet reduction diet and physical activity.

. L-carnitine versus D-carnitine - what is the difference?.

L-carnitine is biologically active, whereas D-carnitine is not. In addition, L-carnitine and D-carnitine are isomers, meaning they have the same atoms but differ in the way they are spatially arranged. They are mirror images of each other, so it is impossible to superimpose one form over the other.

. Does L-carnitine retain water?.

No, L-carnitine does not retain water in the body. On the contrary, supplements with L-carnitine (1000 mg and above) are recommended for people who cannot use thermogenics (fat burners, usually with stimulants such as caffeine) and for those with blood pressure problems.

. What is the best L-carnitine?.

The best L-carnitine for improving exercise performance and supporting fat burning is L-carnitine tartrate in a 2,000 mg daily serving. For improved brain function, acetyl-L-carnitine will work well, and for cardiovascular support, propionyl-L-carnitine is used.

. Is L-carnitine healthy?.

L-carnitine as a dietary supplement is a substance that is safe and well tolerated by the human body, as confirmed by many scientific studies. In some cases, however, L-carnitine supplementation may cause side effects, usually from the gastrointestinal tract.

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Sources

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