Carnitine (S3E4)

A place for everything and everything has its place.  This is how I would sum up nutrition in a nutshell.  A big piece of our metabolic need comes from the molecule known as carnitine.  L-Carnitine plays a large role in our energy production by transporting fatty acids to mitochondria.  However, it also plays some important auxiliary functions, as an antioxidant, immune system modulator and in helping in the metabolism of drugs.

We synthesize carnitine in our liver, kidney and brain using methionine, vitamin C, iron, Vitamin B3 and B6.  This illustrates the team effort that many therapeutic nutrients play in our metabolism.  When things aren’t functioning optimally, symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, lipid buildup in muscle, heart and liver, hypoglycemia and cognitive impairment can result.  Weight loss can also stall when carnitine stores are low, and cardiomyopathies can become worse.  Although primary carnitine deficiency is mostly genetic in nature, secondary deficiency is induced by such factors as burns, infections, surgery, malabsorption, meds or a deficiency of the above mentioned vitamins, amino acids and iron. 

An omnivorous diet generally supplies between 50 and 300mg of carnitine from animal proteins daily.  Lacto-vegetarian diets only have between 10 and 40mg and vegan diets contain roughly 1-3mg. 

In addition, pesticides, preservatives, anti-epileptic and antibiotic drugs all induce carnitine deficiency.  Although the body can synthesize up to 20mg in one day, this is seldom enough to offset its loss due to the above mentioned factors.

For preventative purposes, 500-1000mg is a good amount to take.  When there are heart pathologies, up to 2000mg per day are given.

Be Well and Be Zen



Gaby A R, (2011), Nutritional Medicine, Ch. 54, Carnitine, p. 202-205., Fritz Perlberg Publishing, Concord, NH., ISBN 13: 978-0-9828850-0-0.

Atkins R C, (1998), Dr. Atkins’ vita-nutrient solution. P. 191-193., Simon & Shuster Inc., New York., ISBN: 0-684-81849-3.

Molecular carnitine model picture: By Manuel Almagro Rivas – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

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