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L-carnitine is a quasi-vital amino acid that plays an important role in human metabolism, particularly in energy production. It serves as a means of transport for long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondria, the power plants of the cells, where these fatty acids are burned for energy. The discovery and increasing understanding have led to new perspectives in nutritional physiology and medical therapy. This article looks at the discovery, its various forms and dosages, the diseases it can cure, relevant studies, complementary supplements or medicinal plants, natural sources and possible risks and side effects.

The discovery of L-carnitine

The history of L-carnitine begins at the beginning of the 20th century, when it was first isolated from meat extracts. Researchers discovered that this substance plays a central role in the fat metabolism of animals. Over time, it became clear that it is also crucial for the human body, especially for the conversion of fat into usable energy.

L-carnitine: forms of intake and dosage

L-carnitine is available in various dosage forms such as capsules, tablets, powder and even as a liquid supplement. The optimal dosage can vary depending on individual needs and goals. In general, experts recommend a dosage of 500 to 2000 mg per day, divided into two or three doses. However, it is advisable to discuss intake and dosage with a doctor or nutritionist, especially for specific health conditions or goals.

L-carnitine: healing power against diseases

L-carnitine has a wide range of applications in medical therapy. Studies prove its effectiveness in various diseases:

  • Cardiovascular diseases: It can improve heart health and alleviate the symptoms of heart failure and angina pectoris.
  • Type 2 diabetes: It helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity.
  • Kidney disease: In dialysis patients, supplementation can compensate for carnitine deficiency.
  • Weight management and athletic performance: It can support fat burning and increase performance.

Although research shows promising results, it is important not to view L-carnitine as a panacea, but as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

L-carnitine: studies with effects & effectiveness

There are numerous studies that deal with the effect and effectiveness of L-carnitine in various health contexts. Some of the most important research areas and study results are summarized here:

Heart health

Several studies have investigated the positive influence of L-carnitine on heart health. A meta-analysis published in the journal “Mayo Clinic Proceedings” showed that supplementation is associated with a significant reduction in heart attacks, angina pectoris and heart failure symptoms, especially in patients after an acute myocardial infarction.

Sports performance

Sports medicine research shows that it can improve endurance performance by increasing fat burning and reducing glycogen storage in the muscles. However, there are mixed results regarding its effectiveness during short, intense training sessions.

Diabetes and insulin resistance

Some studies suggest that it can improve insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetics and thus contribute to better control of blood glucose levels. It is thought to improve glucose uptake into cells and support blood sugar control.

Weight loss

Although L-carnitine is often associated with weight loss, studies show mixed results. Some studies suggest that it can lead to moderate weight loss when combined with physical activity, while others have found no significant effect.

Kidney function

Dialysis patients may experience a deficiency of L-carnitine. Studies have shown that supplementation can improve anemia and muscle weakness in dialysis patients.

Side effects and safety

L-carnitine research has also included studies on safety and possible side effects. In general, it is well tolerated, but high doses can cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and a “fishy” body odor.

It is important to note that the effectiveness of L-carnitine can depend on many factors, including dosage, duration of use and individual health status. In addition, the decision to supplement should always be based on scientific evidence and, if necessary, in consultation with a healthcare provider.

L-carnitine: Supplementary food supplements and medicinal plants

To support the effect of L-carnitine, omega-3 fatty acids, coenzyme Q10 and certain vitamins (e.g. B vitamins) can also be taken. These substances support energy metabolism and heart health. Medicinal plants such as ginseng and ashwagandha can also boost energy and improve physical performance.

Natural sources of L-carnitine

L-carnitine is mainly found in animal products. Beef, pork, fish and poultry are particularly rich sources. Vegetarians and vegans may have lower carnitine levels, as plant-based foods contain significantly lower amounts. It may therefore be advisable for people on a plant-based diet to supplement L-carnitine with supplements.

Possible risks and side effects

Although L-carnitine is considered safe for most people, there are potential risks and side effects, especially if taken in excess. Possible side effects include stomach discomfort, nausea, diarrhea and fishy odor in the body. People with pre-existing medical conditions, particularly thyroid problems, should consult their doctor before taking L-carnitine as it can interfere with the effectiveness of thyroid hormones. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also seek medical advice before taking it.

L-carnitine in naturopathy

In naturopathy, L-carnitine is not only used to treat specific illnesses, but also to promote general well-being and increase energy. It is considered a natural way to help the body burn fat and increase performance. It is also used in geriatrics to maintain cognitive function and muscle mass.


L-carnitine is a powerful substance with many health benefits. From supporting energy production and improving heart health to supporting weight management and athletic performance, the applications are many. Nevertheless, it is important to choose a dietary supplement wisely, taking into account the individual’s state of health. The combination with other dietary supplements and a balanced diet can enhance the positive effects. As with any dietary supplement, possible risks and side effects should not be ignored. Making an informed decision and consulting a health professional, if necessary, is essential to maximize the benefits.

Overall, L-Carnitine offers a fascinating supplement to support a healthy lifestyle, always aiming for a balanced approach between natural diet, supplements and an active lifestyle.

Published on: 26. March 2024


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