L-carnitine is a nutrient factor found mainly in foods of animal origin that plays a role in the use of fat as an energy source. Humans can also synthesise L-carnitine (L-b-hydroxy-c-N-trimethyl aminobutyric) acid in the liver, brain and kidneys from the amino acids lysine and methionine. The bioavailability of carnitine increases in vegetarians who do not obtain such high amounts from the diet, counteracting their lower intake to some extent. Skeletal and cardiac muscle have the highest concentrations of L-carnitine because these tissues utilise L-carnitine to help with energy production. L-Carnitine is used to shuttle long chain fatty acids into the mitochondria where oxidation of the fatty acids occurs to produce energy. L-Carnitine also activates the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex which converts pyruvate to acetyl-CoA, which is subsequently used to generate energy. Evidence suggests that L-carnitine can significantly improve weight loss when taken as a dietary supplement by overweight individuals.
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