L-carnitine is a non-essential amino acid which is made naturally in the body by the liver and kidneys (derived from essential amino acid, lysine). From there it is transported to other vital parts of the body such as the brain, heart and skeletal muscles which rely on L-carnitine's ability to bring fatty acids into the cells to be used as fuel. L-carnitine also acts as an antioxidant as it increases the body’s antioxidant enzyme activities. This allows the body to more rapidly counteract the effects of harmful free radicals.

The muscle tissues store approximately 95% of the total of 20g of L-carnitine found in the body. L-carnitine deficiencies may be caused by genetic disorders, liver or kidney problems, high-fat diets, certain medications, and low dietary levels of the amino acids lysine and methionine. Its deficiencies may cause symptoms such as fatigue, chest pain, muscle pain, weakness, low blood pressure, and/or confusion.

Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter which when combined with L-carnitine creates Acetyl-L-carnitine or ALCAR. Some L-carnitine can be converted to acetyl-L-carnitine naturally in the body.

L-carnitine has been proposed as a treatment for many conditions.

Weight Loss
L-Carnitine transports fatty acids into the mitochondria of the cells, where it is burned for cellular energy. L-Carnitine and Omega-3s together increase metabolic rate by increasing cellular activity and fat burning.
- A study in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism showed that combining carnitine, omega-3s, and polyphenols resulted in lower blood lipid levels and better cellular energy production.
- A study in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology illustrates that L-carnitine also fights belly fat or visceral fat gain by taking triglycerides and low-density lipoproteins out of the system. To know more about how to decrease Belly Fat, please click here.

Heart Conditions
A systematic review of 13 different controlled studies published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that L-carnitine is associated with a 27% reduction in all-cause mortality, a 65% reduction in ventricular arrhythmia, and a 40% reduction in anginal symptoms in patients.

Mental Health
Acetyl-L-carnitine has been successfully used for people who have been affected by stroke, traumatic brain damage, age-associated dementia and stress-related damage. ALCAR is said to enhance spatial and temporal memory and to reduce oxidative damage in the hippocampus area of the brain which impacts memory.  It has also been used as a treatment for thinking problems related to alcoholism and Lyme disease and to improve circulation within the brain.

Kidney Disease
People with kidney disease may not manufacture enough carnitine to meet metabolic needs. Supplementation of L-carnitine in kidney patients results in increased physical function, including improved muscle function, improved blood pressure and improved function of red blood cells.

Liver Cirrhosis
A study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology by researchers at King Saud University concluded that a deficiency of L-carnitine is a risk factor for liver cancer. They had also found that long-term L-carnitine supplementation may even prevent the development of liver cancer. The study showed that L-carnitine resulted in a 100 percent reversal of the increase in liver enzymes compared to normal values and the pre-cancerous liver lesions went away.

Diabetic Neuropathy
Many studies show that use of L-carnitine early in the disease process can reduce pain and improve nerve regeneration in patients with chronic diabetic neuropathy.

Male Infertility
L-Carnitine plays a crucial role in sperm metabolism and maturation. It facilitates higher quantity of sperm and better sperm motility and can also help improve male sexual and erectile functions.

Asthma & Respiratory Disease
Study have found that serum carnitine levels are decreased in children with moderate asthma during exacerbation of asthma. Decreased serum carnitine has also been documented in other respiratory problems like children with recurrent respiratory tract infections and neonates with respiratory distress syndrome.

By inhibiting thyroid hormones triiodothyronine and thyroxine from being taken up in body cells, L-Carnitine can help manage hyperthyroid symptoms.

In an uncontrolled trial, 11 asymptomatic HIV-infected patients, who had refused antiretroviral treatment despite progressively declining CD4 cell counts, were treated with 6 grams/day of L-carnitine intravenously for four months. After four months of L-carnitine therapy, CD4 cell counts increased significantly and markers of lymphocyte apoptosis decreased, although there was no significant change in plasma levels of the HIV virus.

Food Sources
The highest concentrations of carnitine are found in red meat and dairy products.
Other relatively low but good sources are -
White meat - Chicken, pork
Nuts and Seeds - pumpkin, sunflower, sesame
Legumes or Pulses - beans, peas, lentils, peanuts
Vegetables - artichokes, asparagus, beet greens, broccoli, brussels sprouts, collard greens, garlic, mustard greens, okra, parsley, kale
Fruits - apricots, bananas
Cereals - buckwheat, corn, millet, oatmeal, rice bran, rye, whole wheat, wheat bran, wheat germ

Always check with a health care provider before taking any kind of supplement. In general, L-carnitine appears to be well tolerated; toxic effects related to high-dose L-carnitine have not been reported.

Supplemental doses usually range from 500 to 2,000 mg/day. While bioavailability of L-carnitine from the diet is very high, absorption from oral L-carnitine supplements is considerably lower.

L-carnitine can impact people with hypothyroidism, seizure disorders or those who are taking Coumadin or other anti-clotting medications. And as always, check with your doctor before adding any supplements to your regimen.