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Carnitine

Introduction

Carnitine is a nutrient in the body that turns fat into energy. It is found in meat, dairy, and bread. Carnitine has been used to improve heart health, ease fatigue, and promote fitness. It can be taken as a pill or powder. It can also be injected into the bloodstream by a healthcare provider.

Dosages

1,000 milligrams 1 to 3 times daily.

What Research Shows

Likely Effective

  • Chronic heart failure—likely to ease symptoms and improve heart function E1
  • Depression—likely to reduce symptoms G1
  • Diabetes—likely help control blood glucose H1-H2
  • Intermittent Claudication—likely to improve walking ability M1-M2
  • Obesity—likely to promote weight loss P1
  • Osteoarthritis—likely to ease pain Q1
  • Peripheral neuropathic pain—likely to provide small reductions in pain R1-R2

May Be Effective

May Not Be Effective

Unlikely to Be Effective

  • Cancer-related fatigue—unlikely to ease fatigue D1
  • Hemodialysis—unlikely to ease symptoms or improve quality of life J1
  • Kidney disease—unlikely to lower total cholesterol N1-N2

Not Enough Data to Assess

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.
Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Safety Notes

It is likely safe to take carnitine in small doses for a short time. Not enough studies have been done to say whether it is safe to take for a long period. It is also not known whether it is safe to take by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Interactions
Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse.

References

A
Acute Myocardial Infarction
A1
DiNicolantonio JJ, Lavie CJ, et al. L-carnitine in the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease: systematic review and meta-analysis. Mayo Clin Proc. 2013 Jun;88(6):544-551.
B
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
B1
Sarris J, Kean J, et al. Complementary medicines (herbal and nutritional products) in the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): a systematic review of the evidence. Complement Ther Med. 2011 Aug;19(4):216-227.
C
Brain Ischemia
C1
Fedotova AV, Mironova OP, et al. [L-carnitine treatment patients with chronic cerebral ischemia]. Zh Nevrol Psikhiatr Im S S Korsakova. 2013;113(5):48-53.
D
Cancer-Related Fatigue
D1
Marx W, Teleni L, et al. Efficacy and Effectiveness of Carnitine Supplementation for Cancer-Related Fatigue: A Systematic Literature Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. 2017 Nov 7;9(11). pii: E1224.
E
E. Chronic Heart Failure
E1
Song X, Qu H, et al. Efficacy and Safety of L-Carnitine Treatment for Chronic Heart Failure: A Meta-Analysis or Randomized Controlled Trials. Biomed Res Int. 2017:6274854.
F
F. Cognitive Function
F1
Chen N, Yang M, et al. L-carnitine for cognitive enhancement in people without cognitive impairment. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017 Mar 26;3:CD009374.
G
G. Depression
G1
Vernoese N, Stubbs B, et al. Acetyl-L-Carnitine Supplementation and the Treatment of Depressive Symptoms: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Psychosom Med. 2018;80(2):154-159.
H
H. Diabetes
H1
Vidal-Casariego A, Burgo-Peláez R, et al. Metabolic effects of L-carnitine on type 2 diabetes mellitus: systematic review and meta-analysis. Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes. 2013;121(4):234-238.
H2
Xu Y, Jiang W, et al. L-carnitine treatment of insulin resistance: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Adv Clin Exp Med. 2017 Mar-Apr;26(2):333-338.
I
Fragile X Syndrome
I1
Rueda JR, Guillén V, et al. L-acetylcarnitine for treating fragile X syndrome. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 May 19;(5):CD010012.
J
J. Hemodialysis
J1
Yang SK, Xiao L, et al. Effect of L-carnitine therapy on patients in maintenance hemodialysis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Nephrol. 2014 Jun;27(3):317-329.
K
K. Hepatic Encephalopathy
K1
Martí-Carvajal AJ, Gluud C, et al. Acetyl-L-carnitine for patients with hepatic encephalopathy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2019;1:CD011451.
L
L. Hyperthyroidism
L1
An JH, Kim YJ, et al. L-carnitine supplementation for the management of fatigue in patients with hyperthyroidism on levothyroxine treatment: a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Enocr J. 2016;63(10):885-895.
M
M. Intermittent Claudication
M1
Delaney CL, Spark JI, et al. A systematic review to evaluate the effectiveness of carnitine supplementation in improving walking performance among individuals with intermittent claudication. Atherosclerosis. 2013 Jul;229(1):1-9.
M1
Brass EP, Koster D, et al. A systematic review and meta-analysis of propionyl-L-carnitine effects on exercise performance in patients with claudication. Vasc Med. 2013 Feb;18(1):3-12.
N
N. Kidney Disease
N1
Huang H, Song L, et al. Influence of L-carnitine supplementation on serum lipid profile in hemodialysis patients: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Kidney Blood Press Res. 2013;38(1):31-41.
N2
Chen Y, Abbate M, et al. L-Carnitine supplementation for adults with end-stage kidney disease requiring maintenance hemodialysis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014;99(2):408-422.
O
O. Multiple Sclerosis
O1
Tejani AM, Wasdell M, et al. Carnitine for fatigue in multiple sclerosis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 May 16;(5):CD007280.
P
P. Obesity
P1
Pooyandjoo M, Nouhi M, et al. The effect of (L-)carnitine on weight loss in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Obese Rev. 2016;17(10):970-976.
Q
Q. Osteoarthritis
Q
Liu X, Machado GC, et al. Dietary supplements for treating osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med. 2018;52(3):167-175.
R
R. Peripheral Neuropathic Pain
R1
Li S, Li Q, at al. Acetyl-L-carnitine in the treatment of peripheral neuropathic pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. PLoS One. 2015;10(3):e0119479.
R2
Brami C, Bao T, et al. Natural products and complementary therapies for chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy: A systematic review. Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2016 Feb;98:325-334.
S
S. Valproic Acid Overdose
S1
Perrott J, Murphy NG, et al. L-carnitine for acute valproic acid overdose: a systematic review of published cases. Ann Pharmacother. 2010 Jul-Aug;44(7-8):1287-1293.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC
  • Review Date: 07/2019
  • Update Date: 04/14/2020
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