L-Carnitine Supplementation: A New Paradigm for its Role in Exercise

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Early research investigating the effects of L-carnitine supplementation has examined its role in substrate metabolism and in acute exercise performance. These studies have yielded equivocal findings, partially due to difficulties in increasing muscle carnitine concentrations. However, recent studies have proposed that L-carnitine may play a different role in exercise physiology, and preliminary results have been encouraging. Current investigations have theorized that L-carnitine supplementation facilitates exercise recovery. Proposed mechanism is as follows: 1) increased serum carnitine concentration enhances capillary endothelial function; 2) increased blood flow and reduced hypoxia mitigate the cascade of ensuing, destructive chemical events following exercise; 3) thus allowing reduced structural damage of skeletal muscle mediated by more intact receptors in muscle needed for improved protein signaling. This paradigm explains decreased markers of purine catabolism, free radical formation, and muscle tissue disruption after resistance exercise and the increased repair of muscle proteins following long-term L-carnitine supplementation.

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Correspondence to William J. Kraemer.

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Kraemer, W., Volek, J., Spiering, B. et al. L-Carnitine Supplementation: A New Paradigm for its Role in Exercise. Monatsh. Chem. 136, 1383–1390 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00706-005-0322-y

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  • Keywords. Amino acids; Exercise recovery; Hormones; Metabolism; Skeletal muscle.