Medically Reviewed by: Dr. Ben Rawson

    Dr. Ben Rawson, DO is trained in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He is a current Tri-Athlete and loves running.

    What is L-Carnitine?

    What is L-Carnitine?


    One of the latest supplements to hit the gym circuit, this derivative of the amino acids lysine and methionine, was first isolated from meat, or carnis, around 1905. L-Carnitine helps reduce oxidative stress, the imbalance of cancer-causing free radicals and your body’s ability to neutralize them, which makes it a popular treatment for many heart conditions. But the benefits of L-Carnitine don’t stop with heart disease. Keep reading to find out how it can help you.

    How can it help me?

    Anti-aging properties

    As you age, your L-carnitine levels and mitochondrial function tend to decrease. In one study, rats with decreased levels were given acetyl-L-carnitine or a placebo. Rats with the supplement showed improved or reversed mitochondrial declines in cardiac muscle and skeletal structure. Clinical trials are still underway, but hopes are high for this age-fighting agent.

    Cardiovascular disease

    While L-carnitine alone isn’t enough to fight cardiovascular disease, when used in conjunction with the standard pharmacological treatments, the results are impressive. In one trial, half of the 160 participants diagnosed with myocardial infraction, a clot caused by ruptured plaque in the coronary artery, were given 4 grams a day of the supplement as part of their treatment. One year later, the death rate was significantly lower than the non-supplemented group and reported chest pains were also much lower.

    Fights fatigue in cancer-treatment patients

    Radiation and chemotherapy are exhausting treatments for most patients, and it often lowers levels of L-carnitine. Several studies have shown that adding the supplement to their diets helped fight fatigue, while also improving quality of sleep and mood.

    Heart failure

    The addition of L-carnitine to the standard course of treatment for patients with heart failure has shown promising results. Not only has it increased survival rates for several participants, it also improved measures of exercise tolerance and showed a significant decrease in the left ventricular size, meaning the heart’s pumping as it should. Another study found that patients with mild heart failure had improved function with just 1.5 grams of L-carnitine a day for three months.

    Physical performance

    While studies are still ongoing, researchers have found that short-term use or even pre-workout doses of 2-4 grams of L-carnitine supplements increased oxygen uptake, meaning you recover faster, and decreases lactate, meaning you’re less sore post workout.

    So how do I get it?

    Sources of L-carnitine

    As the “carni” in the name suggests, meat is a rich source of L-carnitine, specifically beef and lamb. You can also get it through poultry, fish and dairy products. Fruit, vegetables and grains contain only trace amounts of L-carnitine, so it’s very important for vegetarians and vegans to supplement. As well as anyone looking for the perks listed above but have a limited diet.

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