A Free Amino Acid

One of the key uses of Carnitine Tartrate supplement is for fatty acid oxidation – helping burn unwanted body fat. Fatty acids are one the key energy sources the body uses, and oxidation is the process by which they’re broken down to create energy.

L-Carnitine, a “free amino acid” has been found to improve fat metabolism in the heart and other organs and tissues, reduces Triglyceride and cholesterol levels, improves heart muscle tolerance, prevents irregular heartbeat and angina, provides more energy for the heart and helps lower blood pressure.

L-Carnitine is a derivative of the amino acid, lysine. Its name is derived from the fact that it was first isolated from meat in 1905.

Meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products are the richest sources of L-carnitine. Tempeh (fermented soybeans), wheat, and avocados contain some L-carnitine, while fruits, vegetables, and grains contain relatively little L-carnitine to the diet. Omnivorous diets have been found to provide 20 to 200 mg/day of L-carnitine, while strict vegetarian diets may provide as little as 1 mg/day. Vegans get considerably less (about 10 to 12 milligrams) since they avoid animal-derived foods.

  • Beef steak, cooked, 4 ounces: 56-162mg
  • Ground beef, cooked, 4 ounces: 87-99 mg
  • Milk, whole, 1 cup: 8mg
  • Codfish, cooked, 4 ounces: 4-7mg
  • Chicken breast, cooked, 4 ounces: 3-5mg
  • Ice cream, 1/2 cup: 3mg
  • Cheddar cheese, 2 ounces: 2mg
  • Whole-wheat bread, 2 slices: 0.2mg
  • Asparagus, cooked, 1/2 cup: 0.1 mg

Your body can produce a very small amount of L-Carnitine on a daily basis, with the highest concentrations in the heart and skeletal muscles. In certain conditions, the demand for carnitine may exceed a person’s ability to synthesize it, thus making it a conditionally essential nutrient.

There are very few documented side effects, and they include:

  • Increase in blood pressure.
  • Faster heartbeats.
  • Fever.
  • Large amounts may cause diarrhea.

Studies now also suggest that L-carnitine helps with male infertility.

Aging. A decline in mitochondrial function is thought to contribute to the aging process. Carnitine may be involved because its concentration declines with age and thereby reduces the integrity of the mitochondrial membrane. A meta-analysis of double-blind, placebo-controlled studies suggests that supplements of acetyl-L-carnitine may improve mental function and reduce deterioration in older adults with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. In these studies, subjects took 1.5-3.0 grams/day of L-carnitine for 3 to 12 months.

The FNB has not established Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) – including a recommended dietary allowance (RDA) – for L-carnitine.

L Carnitine and Type 2 Diabetes

Insulin resistance, which plays an important role in the development of type 2 diabetes, may be associated with a defect in fatty-acid oxidation in muscle. Increased storage of fat in lean tissues has become a marker for insulin resistance. Early research suggests that supplementation with L-carnitine intravenously may improve insulin sensitivity in diabetics by decreasing fat levels in muscle and may lower blood glucose levels by more promptly increasing its oxidation in cells.

A recent analysis of two multicenter clinical trials of subjects with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes found that treatment with acetyl-L-carnitine (3 grams/day orally) for one year provided significant relief of nerve pain and improved vibration perception in those with diabetic neuropathy. The treatment was most effective in subjects with type 2 diabetes of short duration.

Carnitine Caution

Carnitine is NOT advised for anyone with seizure disorders.

Read More: Essential Nutrients