L-Carnitine: Do You Need This Supplement?

Today’s article is about L-Carnitine supplementation, and whether or not it’s worth your money.

As an MNU Certified Performance Nutritionist, I am very basic on my supplementation recommendations. One has to consider my client’s budget and lifestyle - I never advise anything unless I am sure it will assist that specific client, in that specific context of their lives. My recommendations always firstly surround common deficiencies in our nutrition such as omega 3 fish oils, or vitamin D3 for example.

To be honest, I never considered L-Carnitine much as it was marketed as a fat burner - one I didn’t see as particularly useful via oral form. Not in a caloric deficit anyway, there seemed to be some benefit when used in a caloric surplus to limit fat gain, which appears to work better in this state with an abundance of carbohydrates pre and post workout. 

It was only recently I came across more compelling research on the benefits of L-Carnitine in other areas, which inspired me to take a closer look and seriously consider its application with some clients. 

Specific supplementation such as L-carnitine would be subject to that specific client. Same goes for supplementing things like Beta-Alanine or L-Theanine, I never just hammer a client with a supplement list an arm’s length long. 

You need to look at your lifestyle, you as a person, and decide:

"Why am I taking this?”  

"For what purpose?” 

“Have I addressed my nutrition and sleep before considering taking something for lethargy or brain fog?”

“Are the potential benefits worth the cost outlay?”

So let's get into what L-Carnitine is, its benefits and how, if you decide to, one should be taking it. 

What Is L-Carnitine? 

L-Carnitine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in meat products and milk to a degree, it is also a constituent of human breast milk. 

Carnitine exists in the body in two forms, either L-carnitine or the acetylated form known as Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR).

Mostly touted as a fat burner (in my opinion, the research doesn’t stack up though) for its direct fat burning effects in controlled studies. I personally think "fat burning" comes by default by increases in NEAT (Non-exercise activity thermogenesis) due to an increase in energy and cognitive function. You end up doing more in a day, whether it be more steps, or better workouts, which leads to increased energy expenditure over the day.   

NOW Foods Has Both Forms Available, So Which One Is Better For You? 

L-Carnitine tartrate, I believe, is better for power output and physical performance and Acetyl-L-Carnitine is better suited to cognitive benefits and other benefits discussed below. 

  • Acetyl-L-Carnitine is often used as a brain booster or what is called a Nootropic, due to its ability to increase alertness and mitochondrial capacity while providing support for the neurons.
  • Acetyl-L-Carnitine has been shown to be very effective at alleviating the side effects of aging, like neurological decline and chronic fatigue. 
  • Acetyl-L-Carnitine supplementation is also a very safe method of improving insulin sensitivity and blood vessel health, particularly for people with delicate or weakened cardiac health. 
  • Acetyl-L-Carnitine can also protect neurons and repair certain damage, such as that caused by diabetes.
  • It has been noted in studies that it has a positive effect on kids with ADHD as well as a noticeable reduction in aggression in kids with aggression related issues. 
  • We also see strong evidence of increased sperm quality in men supplementing 3000mg daily as well as some evidence helping alleviate alcohol dependency. 

These are some of the benefits you may not have initially thought of when deciding if and why you should be taking L-Carnitine. 

If, however, you are looking to include it for any of the ailments above, please refer to your doctor so that they are happy, and no contradicting indications exist with your current medication schedule. 

How Do I Take L-Carnitine?  

The standard dose for L-carnitine is between 500mg and 4 000mg depending on the form you decide on, taken daily. If you are taking it on the lower end of the dose range it can be taken in one bolus dose, if using higher doses, I suggest splitting the dose into two equal doses. 

There are various forms of carnitine supplementation available. Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR) is used for cognitive enhancement. L-Carnitine L-Tartrate (LCLT) is typically used for physical performance and power output. 

I hope you found this article helpful, I am really enjoying the NOW Foods range of supplements, with a few sparking my interest which I will review soon. I find them to be of high-quality, and dosed well. I am looking forward to trying out more of their range. 

I have now added Acetyl-L-Carnitine at 2000mg per day into my own personal supplement regimen for its health and brain boosting benefits.

 

Craig Brown

Head Coach 

CSB Bodyfusion 

MNU Certified Performance Nutritionist

www.csbbodyfusion.com