Obesity is an epidemic and a worldwide problem. It can lead to some chronic diseases such as dyslipidemia, type 2 diabetes mellitus, fatty liver and cardiovascular diseases. It is a complex condition, one with serious social and psychological dimensions that affects virtually all age and socioeconomic groups and threatens to overwhelm both developed and developing countries.
One popular approach to weight loss is the use of pharmacotherapy. Among the supplements used for weight loss, carnitine is one of the drugs claimed to increase weight loss.
Cartitine is synthesized in the liver and kidneys. It is a derivative of amino acids. Amino acids combine to make proteins, which carry out many essential tasks in our body. Carnitine helps the body break down fatty acids and turn them into energy to power our cells.
Carnitine has an important role in the metabolism of lipids. It facilitates the transfer of long-chain fatty acids across the mitochondrial membrane. Because of this effect on glucose and lipid metabolism, it may help weight loss by increasing the energy expenditure.
L-carnitine is a conditionally essential nutrient, meaning that the body can generally make enough of it, but in some cases a person may have to get the compound from food or oral supplements if they cannot make enough.
Its supplementation is based on the fact that regular oral ingestion of this substance leads to the increase of its concentration, which activates fat oxidation and helps reduce the body’s fat reserves. Different studies have shown that oral carnitine ingestion is effective in the treatment of obesity.
Types of Carnitine
Carnitine is a broad term that describes a few different compounds. L-carnitine is a more common form of carnitine, present in the body and many supplements. Other forms of carnitine include:
- Acetyl L-carnitine: This form, sometimes known as ALCAR, also plays a role in metabolism. It possesses neuroprotective properties that may help protect the nervous system.
- D-carnitine: This type is the optical isomer (mirror image) of L-carnitine. It is toxic to the body, as it may inhibit the absorption of other forms of carnitine.
- L-carnitine L-tartrate: Athletes may use this type in the form of sports supplements. Research suggests that it may be useful in minimizing muscle soreness and aiding recovery.
- Propionyl-L-carnitine: This form displays pain relieving and antirheumatic properties and it may benefit heart health.
L-carnitine, and carnitine in general, is a key component in creating energy for the cells. Its main function, helping break down fatty acids for use as energy, keeps the body’s cells powered and working efficiently.
L-carnitine also has a secondary function of helping remove some waste products from the cells to prevent them from accumulating and causing problems.
In addition to its core functions, L-carnitine may also pose some other benefits to the body. These include:
- Heart health: It may help with some markets of heart health. Supplementation may help improve L-carnitine levels in a failing heart which could boost its health and circulation in the short term following a heart attack. It may also help with symptoms of heart failure such as chest pain and arrhythmia.
- Cancer treatment: At times, cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, may cause a person to become deficient in L-carnitine. In these cases, L-carnitine supplements may help reduce symptoms such as fatigue and weakness. Researchers are currently studying the compound as a possible way to prevent tissue damage due to chemotherapy, but this research is in the early stages.
- Kidney or liver disease: As the kidneys and liver help create and use L-carnitine, disease in these organs or organ failure may lead to L-carnitine deficiency.
Obesity is a serious problem, which has increasingly become associated with higher rates of mortality and morbidity in the world. It has been associated with an increased risk of developing multiple diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and even cancer, to name a few. Along with weight control becoming more difficult in this industrialized world, weight loss is getting more attention.
Carnitine has been applied for prevention of cardiovascular disease, end-stage kidney diseases, dialysis related hypertension and treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
A systematic review and metaanalysis published in the journal Obesity Reviews in 2016, researchers reported that multiple studies found that carnitine has a positive influence in weight loss in chronic conditions such as diabetes and obesity.
Although carnitine has a lower magnitude of weight loss than drugs like orlistat and sibutramine, carnitine does not suffer from some side effects such as gastrointestinal issues, rising blood pressure and pulse rate.
As well as supporting energy production, L-carnitine may help some other functions in the body such as maintaining general brain function and reducing the risk of certain disorders.
At our clinic you can find this supplement with the highest quality standards. Ask one of our physicians to see which supplement better suits your needs so you can start enjoying the tremendous benefits of these wonderful products.
Pooyandjoo, M., Nouhi, M., Shab-Bidar, S., Djafarian, K., & Olyaeemanesh, A. (2016). The effect of (L-)carnitine on weight loss in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Obesity Reviews, 17(10), 970–976. doi:10.1111/obr.12436.