L-carnitine is a non-essential amino acid, meaning it occurs naturally in the body and does not have to be supplemented through diet. However, supplements of L-carnitine provide certain health benefits, particularly for cardiovascular issues. People also take these supplements for energy boosts. L-carnitine occurs naturally in meat and dairy products.
Physicians most commonly recommend L-carnitine supplements for heart-related problems, as noted by the Digital Naturopath website. See the Resources section for a list of clinical studies showing the effectiveness of this amino acid.
A study published in a 2009 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that L-carnitine supplements reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol--the so-called "bad" cholesterol--blood levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
Neurosurgeon Russell L. Blaylock, in his book "Health and Nutrition Secrets," notes that studies indicate L-carnitine slows and even reverses some types of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease.
Other Aging Issues
Age-associated disorders such as depression, impaired cognition and decreased mental alertness may be partially because of L-carnitine deficiency, according to a review of studies by Juvenon, a health supplement producer connected with the University of California at Berkeley.
Because the main function of L-carnitine is to help the body burn fat into energy, L-carnitine supplements are commonly taken for energy boosts, although a review of studies by Vanderbilt University shows that clinical results are inconclusive.