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The Truth About L-Carnitine: Separating Fact from Fiction

L-Carnitine, also known as levocarnitine, is a naturally occurring amino acid derivative that plays a critical role in energy production in the body. It is primarily found in animal products such as meat, fish, and dairy, and can also be taken as a dietary supplement. L-Carnitine has been widely promoted as a weight loss aid and performance enhancer, but what does the science say? In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at the proposed benefits of L-Carnitine and the scientific research behind them.


Proposed Benefits of L-Carnitine


  1. Weight Loss L-Carnitine has been marketed as a weight loss supplement due to its purported ability to increase fat metabolism and promote energy production. Some studies have suggested that L-Carnitine supplementation may lead to a modest reduction in body weight and body fat, but the overall evidence is mixed. A 2013 meta-analysis of 9 randomized controlled trials found that L-Carnitine supplementation had no significant effect on body weight or body fat percentage.

  2. Exercise Performance L-Carnitine is also marketed as an exercise performance enhancer due to its role in energy production. It is believed that L-Carnitine can increase the use of fat as an energy source during exercise, thereby delaying the onset of fatigue and improving endurance. Some studies have shown that L-Carnitine supplementation may lead to improvements in exercise performance, particularly in endurance activities such as running and cycling. However, other studies have found no significant effects on exercise performance.

  3. Cognitive Function L-Carnitine has also been proposed as a cognitive enhancer due to its ability to increase energy production in the brain. Some studies have suggested that L-Carnitine supplementation may improve cognitive function in older adults, particularly in memory and attention tasks. However, more research is needed to fully understand the effects of L-Carnitine on cognitive function.


Scientific Research on L-Carnitine

  1. Weight Loss As mentioned earlier, a 2013 meta-analysis of 9 randomized controlled trials found no significant effect of L-Carnitine supplementation on body weight or body fat percentage. Similarly, a 2018 systematic review and meta-analysis of 21 randomized controlled trials found no significant effect of L-Carnitine supplementation on body weight or body composition.

  2. Exercise Performance A 2018 systematic review and meta-analysis of 24 randomized controlled trials found that L-Carnitine supplementation had a small but significant effect on exercise performance, particularly in endurance activities. However, the authors noted that the quality of the studies was generally low and that more high-quality research is needed to confirm these findings.

  3. Cognitive Function A 2018 systematic review and meta-analysis of 10 randomized controlled trials found that L-Carnitine supplementation may have a small but significant effect on cognitive function in older adults, particularly in memory and attention tasks. However, the authors noted that the quality of the studies was generally low and that more high-quality research is needed to confirm these findings.


Conclusion


While L-Carnitine has been marketed as a weight loss aid, exercise performance enhancer, and cognitive enhancer, the scientific evidence is mixed. Some studies have suggested that L-Carnitine supplementation may have modest benefits in these areas, while others have found no significant effects. It is important to note that the quality of the studies is generally low, and more high-quality research is needed to fully understand the effects of L-Carnitine on these outcomes.



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