Supplement Forms / Alternate Names
- Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALC)
- L-Acetyl-Carnitine (LAC)
- Propionyl L-Carnitine
Principal Proposed Uses
Other Proposed Uses
- Alzheimer's Disease
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Celiac Disease
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Diabetic Cardiac Autonomic Neuropathy
- Enhancing Mental Function in Seniors
- Fatigue in Seniors
- High Cholesterol
- HIV Support
- Hyperactivity in Fragile X Syndrome
- Liver Cirrhosis
- Sports Performance Enhancement
- Weight Loss
Carnitine is a substance used by the body uses to turn fat into energy. It is not normally considered an essential nutrient because the body can manufacture all it needs. However, supplemental carnitine could in theory improve the ability of certain tissues to produce energy. This has led to the use of carnitine for various muscle diseases as well as heart conditions.
While carnitine can be found in foods like meat and dairy products, a supplement is necessary to obtain therapeutic dosages.
Carnitine is taken in three forms: L-carnitine (for heart and other conditions), propionyl-L-carnitine (for heart conditions), and acetyl-L-carnitine (for Alzheimer's disease). The dosage is the same for all three forms.
Warning: You should not attempt to self-treat any of these serious medical conditions, nor should you use carnitine as a substitute for standard drugs.
What Is the Scientific Evidence for Carnitine?
Congestive Heart Failure
After a Heart Attack
L-carnitine has shown inconsistent promise for use after a heart attack .
Note: Carnitine is used along with conventional treatment, not as a substitute for it.
High levels of blood sugar can damage the nerves leading to the extremities, causing pain and numbness. This condition is called diabetic peripheral neuropathy . Nerve damage may also develop in the heart, a condition called cardiac autonomic neuropathy. Acetyl-L-carnitine has shown considerable promise for diabetic peripheral neuropathy and some promise for cardiac autonomic neuropathy.
For more information, including full dosage and safety issues, see the full Carnitine article.
Male Sexual Function
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Enlargement of the thyroid (goiter) can be due to many causes, including cancer and iodine deficiency. In some cases, thyroid enlargement occurs without any known cause, so-called benign goiter.
Treatment of benign goiter generally consists of taking thyroid hormone pills. This causes the thyroid gland to become less active, and the goiter shrinks. However, there may be undesirable effects as well. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone) can develop, including heart palpitations, nervousness, weight loss, and bone breakdown.
Individuals on dialysis should not receive this (or any other supplement) without a physician's supervision.
The maximum safe dosages for young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease have not been established.
Interactions You Should Know About
If you are taking:
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 09/2014 -
- Update Date: 09/18/2014 -