L-carnitine is a type of carnitine, which is a derivative of amino acids. Amino acids combine to make proteins, which carry out many essential tasks in the body. Carnitine helps the body break down fatty acids and turn them into energy to power the cells.
L-carnitine is a conditionally essential nutrient, meaning that the body can generally make enough of it, but, in some cases, a person may have to get the compound from food or oral supplements if they cannot make enough.
In the body, the liver and kidneys create L-carnitine from the amino acids lysine and methionine. The kidneys can also store L-carnitine for later use and eliminate the excess through the urine stream.
Carnitine is a broad term that describes a few different compounds. L-carnitine is a more common form of carnitine, present in the body and many supplements. Other forms of carnitine include:
- Acetyl L-carnitine: This form, sometimes known as ALCAR, also plays a role in metabolism. It possesses neuroprotective properties that may help protect the nervous system.
- D-carnitine: This type is the optical isomer (mirror image) of L-carnitine. It is toxic to the body, as it may inhibit the absorption of other forms of carnitine.
- L-carnitine L-tartrate: Athletes may use this type in the form of sports supplements. It may be useful in minimizing muscle soreness and aiding recovery.
- Propionyl-L-carnitine: This form displays pain relieving and antirheumatic properties, and it may benefit heart health.
Absorption and metabolism of carnitine
Adults eating mixed diets that include red meat and other animal products obtain about 60–180 milligrams of carnitine per day. Vegans get considerably less (about 10–12 milligrams) since they avoid animal-derived foods. Most (54–86%) dietary carnitine is absorbed in the small intestine and enters the bloodstream .
The kidneys efficiently conserve carnitine, so even carnitine-poor diets have little impact on the body’s total carnitine content. Rather than being metabolized, excess carnitine is excreted in the urine as needed via the kidneys to maintain stable blood concentrations.
Benefits of L-Carnitine
1. L-CARNITINE BURNS FAT
With higher levels of L-carnitine, your body becomes more efficient at burning fat. Not only does this decrease the amount of fat that your body stores, but it also helps reduce visceral belly fat, the kind that surrounds your vital organs and potentially leads to fatty liver disease and other serious health conditions.
2. MORE ENERGY DURING AND AFTER A WORKOUT
As your body’s capacity for fat-burning rises, so does your energy level. L-carnitine not only helps you increase the amount of fat burned with every workout, but you also get more energy for better workouts and an active lifestyle.
3. L-CARNITINE BOOSTS YOUR METABOLISM TO HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT
Taking that energy increase into your exercise routine will allow you to perform with more intensity, providing a boost to your metabolism. A more efficient metabolism significantly aids your weight loss program because you’ll increase the amount of calories you’re able to burn even at rest.
4. ENHANCED RECOVERY FROM AN L-CARNITINE INJECTION
L-carnitine helps reduce the buildup of lactic acid in your muscles. Muscle lactate buildup is responsible for pain and muscle fatigue after an intense workout. L-carnitine helps clear out the lactate so you recover more quickly and can get back to that fat-melting exercise that’s so central to your weight loss program.
5. L-CARNITINE AIDS THE BODY’S IMMUNE SYSTEM
In addition to the fat-burning and weight loss benefits of L-carnitine, it also aids the body’s immune system and functions as an effective antioxidant as well.
It’s important to note that L-carnitine will not help you burn fat or lose weight if you don’t combine it with a healthy diet and exercise routine.
Side Effects of L Carnitine
At doses of approximately 3 g/day, carnitine supplements can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and a “fishy” body odor.
People who wish to take L-carnitine should talk to a doctor first.
Most people tolerate L-carnitine well. The recommended dosage is roughly 1–3 grams per day. However, people with genetic abnormalities or other conditions causing a lack of L-carnitine should talk to their doctor for a more specific dosage.