L-Carnitine

18/Description

About

L-carnitine is an amino acid that is naturally produced in the body. L-carnitine helps the body turn fat into energy. The body can convert L-carnitine to other amino acids called acetyl-L-carnitine and propionyl-L-carnitine. But, no one knows whether the benefits of carnitines are interchangeable. Until more is known, don't substitute one form of carnitine for another.

L-carnitine supplements are taken by mouth to increase L-carnitine levels in people whose natural level of L-carnitine is too low because they have a genetic disorder, are taking certain drugs (such as valproic acid for seizures or certain antibiotics for tuberculosis), or because they are undergoing a medical procedure (hemodialysis for kidney disease) that uses up the body's L-carnitine. It is also used as a replacement supplement in strict vegetarians, dieters, and low-weight or premature infants.

L-carnitine is taken by mouth for conditions of the heart and blood vessels including heart-related chest pain, congestive heart failure (CHF), heart complications of a disease called diphtheria, heart attack, heart disease, leg pain caused by circulation problems (intermittent claudication), reduced circulation in the arms and legs due to narrowed blood vessels (peripheral vascular disease), irregular heartbeat, and high cholesterol.

Some people use L-carnitine by mouth for muscle disorders associated with certain AIDS medications, difficulty fathering a child (male infertility), a brain development disorder called Rett syndrome, anorexia, body weakness and wasting due to an illness, weight loss, chronic fatigue syndrome and fatigue associated with multiple sclerosis, celiac disease, cancer, aging, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, overactive thyroid, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, leg ulcers, Lyme disease, a blood disorder called beta-thalassemia, loss of brain function due to liver damage, hepatitis C, non-alcoholic liver disease, memory, migraine headache, to improve athletic performance and endurance in healthy people and people with a lung condition called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It is also taken by mouth for narcolepsy and for spinal muscle weakness in children.

L-carnitine us given intravenously (by IV) to increase L-carnitine levels in people whose natural level of L-carnitine is too low because they have a genetic disorder, are taking certain drugs (valproic acid for seizures), or because they are undergoing a medical procedure (hemodialysis for kidney disease) that uses up the body's L-carnitine. It is also given by IV to improve immune function in people with HIV/AIDS, and to people who have had a heart attack. It is also used as a supplement for people on a feeding tube, and in low-weight or premature infants with breathing problems.

L-carnitine is applied to the skin for acne and hair loss.

L-carnitine is also used in eye drops for dry eyes.

How it works

L-carnitine helps the body produce energy. It is important for heart and brain function, muscle movement, and many other body processes.

Effectiveness

Effective
L-carnitine deficiency

The FDA has approved the use of L-carnitine, either taken by mouth or given intravenously (by IV), for treating L-carnitine deficiency caused by certain genetic diseases or other disorders.

Concerns

Likely safe

L-carnitine is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth for up to 12 months, and when used as an injection, with the approval of a healthcare provider. It can cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, stomach upset, heartburn, diarrhea, and seizures. It can also cause the urine, breath, and sweat to have a "fishy" odor. Avoid using D-carnitine and DL-carnitine. These forms of carnitine might block the effects of L-carnitine and cause symptoms that resemble L-carnitine deficiency.

18/Warnings

Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of using L-carnitine if you arepregnant. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Taking L-carnitine is POSSIBLY SAFE in breast-feeding women when taken by mouth in the amounts recommended. Small amounts of L-carnitine have been given to infants in breast milk and formula with no reported side effects. The effects of large amounts taken by a breast-feeding mother are unknown.

Children: L-carnitine is POSSIBLY SAFE when used appropriately by mouth or intravenously (by IV), short-term. It has been used safely by mouth for up to 6 months.

Under-active thyroid (hypothyroidism): Taking L-carnitine might make symptoms of hypothyroidism worse.

Kidney failure: Using DL-carnitine has been reported to cause symptoms such as muscle weakness and eye drooping when administered intravenously (by IV) after dialysis. L-carnitine does not seem have this effect.

Seizures: L-carnitine seems to make seizures more likely in people who have had seizures before. If you have had a seizure, do not use L-carnitine.

Interactions

Always consult with your doctor.
Moderate
Acenocoumarol (Sintrom)

Acenocoumarol (Sintrom) is used to slow blood clotting. L-carnitine might increase the effectiveness of acenocoumarol (Sintrom). Increasing the effectiveness of acenocoumarol (Sintrom) might slow blood clotting too much. The dose of your acenocoumarol (Sintrom) might need to be changed.

Thyroid hormone

L-carnitine seems to decrease how well thyroid hormone works in the body. Taking L-carnitine with thyroid hormone might decrease the effectiveness of the thyroid hormone.

Warfarin (Coumadin)

Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to slow blood clotting. L-carnitine might increase the effects of warfarin (Coumadin) and increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. Be sure to have your blood checked regularly. The dose of your warfarin (Coumadin) might need to be changed.

The information provided on this page is for reference purposes and is not meant to be used as a medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with a medical professional. The content on this page has been provided with thanks by RxList.com