Supplements claim to do all kinds of strange and wonderful things. Sometimes, one supplement alone seems to have an impossibly long list of potential benefits. While it’s always best to be cautious when a health claim sounds too good to be true, there are some supplements that do have a plethora of possible uses. L-carnitine is one of them.
L-carnitine is actually one of two types of carnitine. As human beings, we’re only really interested in the L-form. D-carnitine can stop L-carnitine from working properly. L-carnitine is a compound synthesized in the human body with the help of the amino acid lysine. You can find it in your diet, too, particularly in meat, but even vegetarians and vegans should be able to produce enough naturally to meet their needs.
So why exactly do you need L-carnitine? Well, its main role is in the transportation of long-chain fatty acids. Transferring long-chain fatty acids from the blood to the mitochondria is an important part of energy metabolism, or how we produce energy. It doesn’t stop there, though.
You may have seen L-carnitine supplements being used by athletes and bodybuilders to try to burn fat and help build muscle. It may also improve blood flow while reducing fatigue and muscle soreness, ensuring a quicker and more effective recovery. Scientists are also looking into wider possible benefits to metabolism, longevity and a range of other aspects of health (https://longevity.technology/lifestyle/l-carnitines-benefits-to-your-muscle-metabolism-and-longevity/).
We know that there’s no one supplement that provides the magical answer to weight loss. Good diet and exercise habits remain the most important factor. Still, for some people, L-carnitine may affect your metabolism in multiple ways, all of which could have a positive impact on your weight. This includes your glycogen levels and your response to insulin, as well as fat oxidation.
Other areas of research that have seen some positive early results include L-carnitine’s impact on diabetes management, heart health, kidney and liver problems, cognitive performance, hyperthyroidism, fertility and sexual function in men and even the alleviation of some symptoms of cancer treatments like chemotherapy (which may reduce your natural L-carnitine levels).
That’s an impressive list, but it’s important to mention that not all studies are conclusive. What is sure is that L-carnitine is very important to the body, and if levels drop as we age, supplementation may be an effective way to improve longevity.