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L-Carnitine enhances weight loss and improves blood sugar control

A role for carnitine in human health has been clearly established, but few studies have linked its cellular role in transporting fat into the mitochondria with weight loss. Individuals with insulin resistance often have impaired mitochondrial function and may therefore benefit more from carnitine supplementation.

In this study, the effects of carnitine supplementation on weight loss and blood sugar levels were examined in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is highly associated with obesity and insulin resistance. Sixty overweight women with PCOS were randomized to a L-carnitine supplementation group who took 250 mg/day or placebo group.

The study lasted 12 weeks. Compared to placebo, the carnitine group lost significantly more body weight (-5.9 vs +0.2 pounds) and had greater decreases in waist and hip circumferences. Carnitine also resulted in significantly greater improvements in fasting blood sugar (-7%), insulin (-22%), and insulin resistance (-23%).

These findings suggest that a lower dose (250 mg) of L-carnitine supplementation may produce modest weight loss and improvement in blood sugar management in overweight women with moderate insulin resistance. Over the last 15 years my lab has published a series of studies on L-carnitine using a slightly higher dose (1,000 to 2,000 mg/day) that have shown positive effects on exercise recovery. 

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