Carnitine is an essential compound that assists in the transport and eventual burning of fat. Several lines of evidence, however, point to additional benefits of carnitine on recovery from exercise and heart health.
In healthy men, we reported that carnitine supplementation (2g per day for 3 weeks) resulted in significantly less free radical formation, tissue damage and muscle soreness during and after moderate intensity squat exercise.
We recently performed a study to validate our prior work and determine if ingesting a smaller dose of carnitine could also provide the same effect. For 3 weeks prior to each test, subjects ingested either 1g of L-carnitine L-tartrate (LCLT) per day, 2g of LCLT per day or a placebo.
Similar to our previous work, we showed that 1g of LCLT per day was effective at reducing the acute response of several markers of biochemical stress. In addition, muscle soreness was lower after exercise with carnitine supplementation.
In a different study just published, we examined the effects of carnitine supplementation on flow-mediated dilation (FMD) of the brachial artery as a measure of vascular health. Subjects consumed a high fat meal, which has been shown to cause impairment of vascular health as assessed by reduced FMD.
We showed that ingestion of 2g of carnitine with the meal enhanced vascular responses to the high fat meal. The findings indicate that in addition to the traditional role of carnitine as a fat burner, this dietary supplement also helps mitigate the stress response to both exercise and high fat meals.
References: Volek, J. S., Kraemer, W. J., Rubin, M. R., Gomez, A. L., Ratamess, N. A. & Gaynor, P. L-Carnitine L-tartrate supplementation favorably affects markers of recovery from exercise stress. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. (2002); 282:E474-482.
Spiering, B. A., Kraemer, W. J., Vingren, J. L., Hatfield, D. L., Fragala, M. S., Ho, J. Y., Maresh, C. M., Anderson, J. M. & Volek, J. S. Responses of criterion variables to different supplemental doses of L-carnitine L-tartrate. J Strength Cond Res. (2007); 21:259-264.
Volek, J.S., D.A. Judelson, R. Silvestre, L.M. Yamamoto, B.A. Spiering, D.L. Hatfield, J.L. Vingren, E.E. Quann, J.M. Anderson, C.M. Maresh, and W.J. Kraemer. Effects of Carnitine Supplementation on Flow-Mediated Dilation and Vascular Inflammatory Responses to a High-Fat Meal. American Journal of Cardiology. 12(10), 1413,1417, 2008.