is not an amino acid in the strict sense (it is not used as
a neurotransmitter or in protein synthesis), however L-Carnitine bears
many resemblances to amino acids and is usually grouped under this
heading. L-Carnitine (the "L" refers to its chemical polarity) is used
by the body to transport long chain fatty acids to the mitochondria in
your cells, where they are burned for energy. Since this fat burning is
such a major source of muscular energy, deficiencies in L-Carnitine are
manifested as low energy levels and muscular weakness. L-Carnitine
deficiencies can also appear as mental confusion or cloudiness, angina
(heart pain) and weight gain.
can be manufactured in the
body provided the requisite vitamins and minerals are also present.
These vitamins and minerals are B1, B6, C, and iron. The amino acids
lysine and methionine are also needed for L-Carnitine synthesis.
L-Carnitine is also present in meats and other animal foods, so if you
are a vegetarian or vegan you may want to consider supplementing with
L-Carnitine. This would be especially important if you are an athlete,
since you are using lots of L-Carnitine during periods of exertion.1,2
We know already that L-Carnitine deficiency, by denying the
mitochondria the needed fatty acids, decreases energy output, but let's
look at the other side of this energy equation. If you aren't burning
fat, you must be storing it. This obviously leads to a variety of
health problems, namely fatty build-ups. L-Carnitine supplementation
can help prevent fatty build-ups in the heart and liver (especially
likely if you are a regular consumer of alcoholic beverages). Putting
it all together, L-Carnitine emerges as a great supplement: it helps
increase energy, burn fat (making it excellent addition to a weight
loss program), and supports heart and liver health all at the same
Simply: athletes, vegetarians and
vegans, and anyone who wants to increase muscle strength and energy,
and burn fat more efficiently - either to help lose weight or improve
heart and liver health by preventing fatty buildups. L-Carnitine
deficiency may also be implicated in diabetic cardiomyopathy,3
and seems to help people who have suffered congestive heart failure.4,5,
L-Carnitine is well known to help in the treatment of angina pectoris,
or heart pain (usually induced by physical stress).6-10
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L-Carnitine References / Additional Resources
- Arenas J, Ricoy JR, Encinas AR, Pola P, D'Iddio S, Zeviani
M, Didonato S, Corsi M. Carnitine in muscle, serum, and urine of
nonprofessional athletes: effects of physical exercise, training, and
L-carnitine administration. Muscle Nerve 1991 Jul;14(7):598-604
- Nuesch R, Rossetto M, Martina B. Plasma and urine
carnitine concentrations in well-trained athletes at rest and after
exercise. Influence of L-carnitine intake. Drugs Exp Clin Res
- Malone JI, Schocken DD, Morrison AD, Gilbert-Barness E.
Diabetic cardiomyopathy and carnitine deficiency. J Diabetes
Complications 1999 Mar-Apr;13(2):86-90.
- K L Goa and R N Brogden. L-carnitine--a preliminary review
of its pharmacokinetics, and its therapeutic use in ischemic cardiac
disease and primary and secondary carnitine deficiencies in
relationship to its role in fatty acid metabolism. Drugs 34 1987:1-24.
- M Mancini et al. Controlled study on the therapeutic
efficacy of propionyl-L-carnitine in patients with congestive heart
failure. Arzneim Forsch 42 1992:1101-4.
- Cacciatore L, Cerio R, Ciarimboli M, Cocozza M, Coto V,
D'Alessandro A, D'Alessandro L, Grattarola G, Imparato L, Lingetti M,
et al. The therapeutic effect of L-carnitine in patients with
exercise-induced stable angina: a controlled study. Drugs Exp Clin Res
- Bartels GL, Remme WJ, Pillay M, Schonfeld DH, Kruijssen
DA. Effects of L-propionylcarnitine on ischemia-induced myocardial
dysfunction in men with angina pectoris. Am J Cardiol 1994 Jul
- Kamikawa T, Suzuki Y, Kobayashi A, Hayashi H, Masumura Y,
Nishihara K, Abe M, Yamazaki N. Effects of L-carnitine on exercise
tolerance in patients with stable angina pectoris. Jpn Heart J 1984
- Cherchi A, Lai C, Angelino F, Trucco G, Caponnetto S,
Mereto PE, Rosolen G, Manzoli U, Schiavoni G, Reale A, et al. Effects
of L-carnitine on exercise tolerance in chronic stable angina: a
multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo controlled crossover
study. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther Toxicol 1985 Oct;23(10):569-72.
- Bartels GL, Remme WJ, Holwerda KJ, Kruijssen DA.
Anti-ischaemic efficacy of L-propionylcarnitine--a promising novel
metabolic approach to ischaemia? Eur Heart J 1996 Mar;17(3):414-20.
Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trials
- Barker, G. A., S. Green, C. D. Askew, A. A. Green
and P. J. Walker (2001). "Effect of propionyl-L-carnitine on exercise
performance in peripheral arterial disease." Med Sci Sports Exerc
- Benvenga, S., R. M. Ruggeri, A. Russo, D. Lapa, A. Campenni
and F. Trimarchi (2001). "Usefulness of L-carnitine, a naturally
occurring peripheral antagonist of thyroid hormone action, in
iatrogenic hyperthyroidism: a randomized, double-blind,
placebo-controlled clinical trial." J Clin Endocrinol Metab 86(8):
- Brass, E. P., S. Adler, K. E. Sietsema, W. R. Hiatt, A. M.
Orlando and A. Amato (2001). "Intravenous L-carnitine increases plasma
carnitine, reduces fatigue, and may preserve exercise capacity in
hemodialysis patients." Am J Kidney Dis 37(5): 1018-28.
- Center, S. A., J. Harte, D. Watrous, A. Reynolds, T. D.
Watson, P. J. Markwell, D. S. Millington, P. A. Wood, A. E. Yeager and
H. N. Erb (2000). "The clinical and metabolic effects of rapid weight
loss in obese pet cats and the influence of supplemental oral
L-carnitine." J Vet Intern Med 14(6): 598-608.
- Colonna, P. and S. Iliceto (2000). "Myocardial infarction
and left ventricular remodeling: results of the CEDIM trial. Carnitine
Ecocardiografia Digitalizzata Infarto Miocardico." Am Heart J 139(2 Pt
- Hiatt, W. R., J. G. Regensteiner, M. A. Creager, A. T.
Hirsch, J. P. Cooke, J. W. Olin, G. N. Gorbunov, J. Isner, Y. V.
Lukjanov, M. S. Tsitsiashvili, T. F. Zabelskaya and A. Amato (2001).
"Propionyl-L-carnitine improves exercise performance and functional
status in patients with claudication." Am J Med 110(8): 616-22.
- Iyer, R., A. Gupta, A. Khan, S. Hiremath and Y. Lokhandwala
(1999). "Does left ventricular function improve with L-carnitine after
acute myocardial infarction?" J Postgrad Med 45(2): 38-41.
- Loster, H., K. Miehe, M. Punzel, O. Stiller, H. Pankau and
J. Schauer (1999). "Prolonged oral L-carnitine substitution increases
bicycle ergometer performance in patients with severe, ischemically
induced cardiac insufficiency." Cardiovasc Drugs Ther 13(6): 537-46.
- Rizos, I. (2000). "Three-year survival of patients with
heart failure caused by dilated cardiomyopathy and L-carnitine
administration." Am Heart J 139(2 Pt 3): S120-3.
- Rubin, M. R., J. S. Volek, A. L. Gomez, N. A. Ratamess, D.
N. French, M. J. Sharman and W. J. Kraemer (2001). "Safety measures of
L-carnitine L-tartrate supplementation in healthy men." J Strength Cond
Res 15(4): 486-90.
- Scarpini, E., G. Sacilotto, P. Baron, M. Cusini and G.
Scarlato (1997). "Effect of acetyl-L-carnitine in the treatment of
painful peripheral neuropathies in HIV+ patients." J Peripher Nerv Syst
- Sirtori, C. R., L. Calabresi, S. Ferrara, F. Pazzucconi, A.
Bondioli, D. Baldassarre, A. Birreci and A. Koverech (2000).
"L-carnitine reduces plasma lipoprotein(a) levels in patients with
hyper Lp(a)." Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis 10(5): 247-51.
- Sorbi, S., P. Forleo, C. Fani and S. Piacentini (2000).
"Double-blind, crossover, placebo-controlled clinical trial with L-
acetylcarnitine in patients with degenerative cerebellar ataxia." Clin
Neuropharmacol 23(2): 114-8.
- Turpeinen, A. K., J. T. Kuikka, E. Vanninen, J. Yang and M.
I. Uusitupa (2000). "Long-term effect of acetyl-L-carnitine on
myocardial 123I-MIBG uptake in patients with diabetes." Clin Auton Res
- Volek, J. S., W. J. Kraemer, M. R. Rubin, A. L. Gomez, N.
A. Ratamess and P. Gaynor (2002). "L-Carnitine L-tartrate
supplementation favorably affects markers of recovery from exercise
stress." Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 282(2): E474-82.
L-Carnitine can be found in
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