Carnitine is the generic name for several compounds including L-carnitine, propionyl-L-carnitine and acetyl-L-carnitine. Derived from an amino acid, Carnitine was first isolated from meat (carne in Latin), from which it gets its name.
Carnitine plays a critical role in energy production in the body. Within our cells, the mitochondria functions by generating the chemical energy needed to support most of the cell’s reactions. Carnitine supports this process by transporting long-chain fatty acids to the mitochondria to be used as fuel, as well as transporting toxic compounds out to prevent accumulation.
Carnitine is created in-part by the liver and kidneys in a process called endogenous biosynthesis. Several foods are also high in carnitine, including:
As carnitine helps in the conversion of fatty acid into energy, it stands to reason that it can support fat burning and weight loss. While the process of metabolism and weight loss are complex and involve a number of factors, a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials showed that those taking carnitine supplements experienced significantly more weight loss and reduction in body mass index compared to those that did not take carnitine.
While these outcomes are promising, carnitine supplementation should accompany, not replace, a balanced diet and exercise regimen in order to achieve the best results.
Studies have shown that carnitine is linked to athletic performance and recovery. L-carnitine is believed to support stamina, improve oxygen supply to muscles, promote blood cell production and reduce soreness.
Several studies have shown positive outcomes in disease treatment with carnitine as an adjunct to standard medical therapy. These include:
Bioavailability, the amount of carnitine available in the blood stream, is very low when taken as an oral supplement (between 10-20%). To address this, carnitine can be found in IV Therapies targeting weight loss and detoxification.