From Fat to Energy: An Study on L-Carnitine

From Fat to Energy: An Study on L-Carnitine

I.         Introduction

            In the modern world where choices abound, it is not surprising to have more than one needs.  Food, for example, is one commodity that people often indulge in, rather than keep it to its prime role as sustenance.  Various factors—from emotional to social—are attached to food intake, yet it is the physical aspect that it greatly affects.  Overindulgence in food may lead to concerns such as obesity, which is plaguing millions of individuals all over the world, and is quite prevalent in the American environment of fast food, quick fixes, and unlimited options.  Over the years, many solutions have been offered to remedy this situation permanently, and one of the most recent contributions of science has been the introduction of l-carnitine.

            Commercially available as a dietary supplement, l-carnitine comes from the nutrient carnitine, which functions in transporting long-chain fatty acids into mitochondria.  Simply put, it is responsible for converting fatty acids into energy that is essential for the body’s muscular activities.  Carnitine is produced in the kidneys and liver, and is stored in the brain, heart, sperm, and skeletal muscles (UMMC, 2008).  It can be found in food such as beef, lam, and sheep, or animal by-products like poultry, milk, and cheese (Sukala, 2001).

II.        Uses of L-Carnitine

            Discovered in Russia in 1905, L-Carnitine is the essential amino acid necessary in burning fat, which is primarily done through muscular exertion.  Exercising allows the body to undergo the fat burning process while saving glycogen from carbohydrates, which is required for endurance and stamina.  Carnitine provides muscles with more fat, and L-Carnitine in turn works to burn it, save more glycogen, and promote better endurance and energy.  It eases the process of the body’s use of fat coming from carbohydrates to energy (Spruytenburg, 2008).  For best effects, a 1,000 to 2,000 mg dosage is recommended (UMMC, 2008).

            Aside from being a substance used for diet control, L-Carnitine has been researched to show its benefits in heart attack survivors, because its nature as a stamina boost helps to prevent subsequent attacks or experience abnormal heart rhythms.  Even those with coronary heart disease may supplement their regular medications with L-Carnitine to be able to physically active longer.  Two grams of L-Carnitine a day up to four weeks is the recommended dosage for maximum effect (Nutrasanus, 2008).

            Some studies have also revealed that L-Carnitine can be used to help treat Congestive Heart Failure by improving the afflicted individual’s capacity for exercise.  The same is true for high cholesterol sufferers, because L-Carnitine promotes the increase in the levels of HDL or good cholesterol, and lowers triglyceride levels significantly.

            In many cases of anorexia nervosa, the lack of carnitine results in the common manifestation of muscle weakness. The use of L-Carnitine in these case will help increase amino acid levels, including carnitine.  Liver diseases caused by alcohol consumption have been studied to show a reduction in the ability of the body’s carnitine to function normally, which may result in the liver’s increased storage of fat—typically a condition that can be reversed through L-Carnitine intake of thrice-daily doses of 300 mg.

            Many other health problems and diseases are documented to have been treated or relieved with the help of L-Carnitine, including dementia, Alzheimer’s, Down’s Syndrome, kidney disease, and chronic fatigue syndrome (UMMC, 2008).

III.      Negative Effects

            There have been no studies that show significantly adverse effects of L-Carnitine use, but its nature as a dietary supplement may produce side effects—especially when taken with other medications.  As with all treatments, close supervision of a physician or informed healthcare provider is always recommended.

            Diarrhea is one common effect of L-Carnitine intake, particularly when in doses of five or more grams a day.  And, like many fat-burning products, it may also effect an increase in appetite, and the rare body odor problem and skin rashes.

            Most importantly, even if L-Carnitine is not classified as a potent substance, using it as a supplement for athletic activities to improve muscular performance and metabolism necessitates a one-week break per month of intake (UMMC).

IV.      Conclusion

            Solutions for obesity or weight loss have always been under the watchful eye of medical professionals, due to the common harmful effects of some.  The evidences and personal accounts related to synthetic diet medication such as Phen-Fen have driven people to clamor for a natural weight loss treatment, and the revolutionary nature and effects of L-Carnitine seems to be the current most viable answer.  Its function as a natural fat-burning substance that complements bodily processes makes it appealing to many—a fact that has been recognized by brand marketers.  The accessibility of many L-Carnitine-based products may be both good and bad; only because people can easily partake of the product’s benefits, but at the same time be misled by false or unfounded claims.  Ultimately, the success of any weight-loss goal still lies in the ability of the individual to keep the discipline, matched with exercise, balanced nutrition, and the motivation to achieve his or her objectives.

Works Cited

Nutrasanus.  “Carnitine and L-Carnitine”.  Nutrasanus website, 2008.


Spruytenburg, Hilary.  “L-Carnitine:  Powerful Endurance Enhancer, or Unnecessary

            Ergogenic?”  Vanderbilt University website, 2008.


Sukala, Bill.  “L-Carnitine:  Information and Review”.  Chase Freedom, Inc. website,


University of Maryland Medical Center.  “Carnitine (L-Carnitine)”.  UMMC website,



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