L-carnitine: Lots of people talk about it, but no one really gets into what it is. Let’s chat about the basics.
Table of contents
What is L-carnitine?
L-carnitine is a semi-essential protein compound made from the essential amino acids methionine and lysine. As long it has enough methionine and lysine available, your body can create the compound.
However, your body cannot produce the essential amino acids itself. That’s why it’s important to eat enough foods that contain methionine and lysine. Your micronutrient intake counts, too: iron, vitamin B6, and niacin are critical to the production of carnitine.
What does L-carnitine do?
The purpose of this protein compound is mainly related to fat metabolism: It transports long-chain fatty acids to the mitochondria, which are the cell’s powerhouses. There the acids are converted into energy in a process known as β-oxidation. There are especially many mitochondria in muscle cells, nerve cells, sensory cells, and ovary cells.
There are many studies examining L-carnitine’s effects on athletic performance. The focus is often on whether L-carnitine supplementation increases the amount of energy extracted from fatty acids, which would lead to better endurance and increased fat burning. But so far, L-carnitine supplementation has not been scientifically linked either to fat burning or better athletic performance.
Because of its role as a fatty acid transporter, this compound is often used to support fat metabolism during weight loss. However, this effect hasn’t been backed up by any science either.
What are the side effects of L-carnitine?
Most excess carnitine is not stored, but excreted. If you eat or use excessive L-carnitine supplements, it might result in bad breath. Some studies suggest that too much carnitine, especially from red meat, can’t be broken down completely in the intestines, which can disturb your body’s gut flora and produce substances that can lead to heart failure.
The only place it’s found in large quantities is in meat. Red meat in particular is not only a source of valuable micronutrients but also all kinds of undesirable, unhealthy fatty acids. According to the German Nutrition Society (DGE), you shouldn’t consume more than 600g of meat a week – take care of your body and the environment!
Interested in L-carnitine supplements to support your goals? Pay close attention to the right dosage and quality. For our foodspring L-Carnitine capsules, we use the established Swiss raw material Carnipure®, which is known for its high active ingredient dose and officially recognized food safety.
Our suppliers base their business on premium quality, and are constantly developing the product in close cooperation with research institutions. And by the way: foodspring’s L-carnitine is 100% vegan.
As we’ve mentioned: If you eat a balanced diet, your body’s able to produce this protein compound on its own. For vegetarian or vegan (endurance) athletes, it might make sense to supplement.
If you don’t cover your requirements for carnitine or merhiotin, lysine, and iron, capsules of L-carnitine may be an option to supplement your diet.
L-carnitine Supplementation and Dosage
The daily requirement is not completely clear. Because the body can produce it on its own, it’s rare to have an L-carnitine deficiency. Therefore, the DGE does not give a clear requirement.
A daily allowance between 16-3,000mg per day is often cited, but the figures vary greatly depending on the source. Your own needs depend on your health, diet, and workout sessions.
foodspring L-Carnitine Capsules contain 1,200mg of pure L-carnitine per serving. One serving consists of 3 capsules (each containing 400mg L-carnitine). So you can adjust the dosage as you see fit – as long as you don’t exceed 1,200mg per day.
L-carnitine and food
The root word of L-carnitine (carne) means “meat” in Latin, so you won’t be surprised that it’s found mainly in animal products. If you are eating plant-based, you will not get much carnitine from your diet, but as long as your diet contains enough methionine, lysine, and iron, it’s not a problem.
Examples of foods with methionine are: soybeans and soy products like tofu, oatmeal, chickpeas, beans, cashews, almonds, peanuts, cottage cheese, and eggs.
Sources of lysine also include soybeans and other soy products, plus oatmeal, cashews, almonds, peanuts, beans, chickpeas, and cottage cheese. Buckwheat, peas and rye also contain lysine.
Tip: Our Vegan Protein contains – in addition to all other essential amino acids – lysine and methionine.
Of course, we also have a list of iron-rich foods for you coming right up – watch this space!
L-carnitine is a semi-essential protein compound.
It’s synthesized from essential amino acids methionine and lysine with the help of other micronutrients.
Its main function is to transport long-chain fatty acids to the mitochondria, where they are converted into energy.
This protein compound is found primarily in meat.
The effect of treatment with L-carnitine on weight loss and exercise performance is the subject of numerous scientific studies.
We at foodspring use only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
Longo N, Frigeni M, Pasquali M. Carnitinetransport and fattyacidoxidation. BiochimBiophys Acta. 2016 Oct;1863(10):2422-35. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2016.01.023. Epub 2016 Jan 29. PMID: 26828774; PMCID: PMC4967041.
Vallance HD, Koochin A, Branov J, Rosen-Heath A, Bosdet T, Wang Z, Hazen SL, Horvath G. Markedelevation in plasmatrimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) in patientswith mitochondrial disorderstreatedwith oral l-carnitine. Mol Genet Metab Rep. 2018 May 3;15:130-133. doi: 10.1016/j.ymgmr.2018.04.005. PMID: 30023305; PMCID: PMC6047224.