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What is L-Carnitine?

L-Carnitine 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.

Sources of L-Carnitine

L-Carnitine 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

More on L-Carnitine Deficiency

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 time!

Who Needs L-Carnitine?

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

Also Recommended with L-Carnitine

Powerful antioxidants: See Ellagic Acid, OPC Grape Seed Extract, and our premium Multivitamins.
For additional weight loss help, consider Lean Connection which has been shown to benefit people is many ways with ingredients like Super CitriMax, hydroxycitric acid (HCA) a clinically proven diet ingredient that helps suppress appetite and inhibit fat production, without stimulating the central nervous system, and Phase 2 Starch / Carb Blocker which blocks the enzyme that breaks down starches.

L-Carnitine References / Additional Resources

  1. 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
  2. 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 1999;25(4):167-71.
  3. Malone JI, Schocken DD, Morrison AD, Gilbert-Barness E. Diabetic cardiomyopathy and carnitine deficiency. J Diabetes Complications 1999 Mar-Apr;13(2):86-90.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 1991;17(4):225-35.
  7. 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 15;74(2):125-30.
  8. 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 Jul;25(4):587-97.
  9. 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.
  10. 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

  1. 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 33(9): 1415-22.
  2. 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): 3579-94.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 3): S124-30.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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 2(3): 250-2.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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 10(1): 13-6.
  15. 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.

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Dietary supplements are not to be used to prevent or treat any disease. The Statements on this web page have not been evaluated by the FDA. Any information provided on this website is not a substitute for the advice of a licensed medical practitioner. Individuals are advised not to self-medicate in the presence of significant illness. Ingredients in supplements are not drugs and may not be foods.
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