Carnitine is a substance made in the body from the amino acids lysine and methionine. It is produced in the liver and kidneys, and its role is to transport fatty acids from the blood into the mitochondria of each cell, where they are transformed into energy.
It is a popular fitness and athletic supplement, because of its role in fat burning. Carnitine also inhibits the build up of lactic acid, which is one of the primary causes of muscle fatigue. Because carnitine reduces the amount of metabolic waste created during exercise, it contributes to a faster post-workout recovery time.
A number of studies have shown that carnitine supplements can help to improve athletic performance, for these reasons. However, beyond the fitness world, carnitine is believed to have a number of other applications as a supplement.
Because a decline in mitochondrial function contributes to the process of ageing, early research has shown that carnitine may help to improve cognitive function in older people. It has also been shown to help reduce the risk of arrhythmias, thus providing a cardio-protective effect. Early indications show that carnitine may also play a role in good thyroid function.
Carnitine can be found in the diet, mostly in red meats, or taken as a supplement in tablet, capsule or powder form.