May 4, 2023

L-Carnitine: What You Need to Know

Major Team

What is L-Carnitine?

L-carnitine is a compound often mistaken as an amino acid but is an amino acid-like molecule associated with the B vitamins. The body produces this compound in the liver and kidneys from other amino acids, and the brain and muscles are its main holders. It has become increasingly popular as a supplement for its ability to support weight loss and for aiding specific groups, such as those who never or rarely consume meat and fish and older adults.

Types of Carnitine

  • D-carnitine: By preventing the absorption of other, more beneficial forms, this inactive form may result in a carnitine shortage in your body.
  • Acetyl-L-carnitine: Often known as ALCAR, it is the best form for your brain. According to studies, it may help those who have neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Propionyl-L-carnitine: This form is excellent for circulatory issues like peripheral vascular disease and high blood pressure. It may enhance the production of nitric oxide.
  • L-carnitine L-tartrate: This is usually added to sports supplements because of its quick absorption rate. It aids muscle soreness and recovery in exercise.

What L-Carnitine Offers You

L-carnitine plays a crucial role in producing energy for cells by breaking down fatty acids and converting them into energy. It also helps cells remove waste products, preventing them from accumulating and causing problems. 

Likewise, L-carnitine supplementation has been shown to enhance exercise performance, reduce muscle soreness, increase oxygen supply to muscles, boost stamina, and improve red blood cell production for better oxygen transportation. 

In some cases, cancer treatments can lead to a depletion of L-carnitine levels, causing symptoms such as weakness and fatigue, and supplementing with L-carnitine can help alleviate them. Studies also indicate that L-carnitine may assist in averting and managing various health issues, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Are There Any Side Effects?

While carnitine has various benefits, it can also induce side effects such as stomach cramps, heartburn, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and seizures. Additionally, it can cause an unusual smell in breath, urine, and sweat. It is necessary to note that using D-carnitine and DL-carnitine should be avoided as these forms of carnitine may interfere with the effects of L-carnitine.

How Much L-Carnitine Should You Take?

Even though dosage differs from study to study, here is an outline of the use and dose for each form:

  • Acetyl-L-carnitine: This form is most suitable for brain health and function. Doses range from 600–2,500 mg a day.
  • L-carnitine L-tartrate: This form is best for exercise performance. Doses range from 1,000–4,000 mg a day.
  • Propionyl-L-carnitine: This form is most effective for improving blood flow in individuals with high blood pressure or related health conditions. Doses range from 400 to 1,000 mg a day.