Dog Food Ingredients A to Z: L-Carnitine

Share Button

l-carnitine structureWe now move to the letter “L” in our Ingredient A to Z series and are featuring L-Carnitine as our ingredient of the day.


What is L-Carnitine?

L-Carnitine is an amino acid that is naturally produced in the body.  It is required for the transport of fatty acids from the cytosol (the liquid inside cells) into the mitochondria (the cell’s “power plant” that generate most of a cell’s supply of fuel for energy) during the breakdown of fats for the generation of metabolic energy.

Animal products like meat (especially red meat), fish, poultry, and milk are the best sources of L-Carnitine.


Common names for L-Carnitine

The most common name variations for L-Carnitine are Carnitine, L-Tartrate, Vitacarn, and Vitamin B(t)


Why is L-Carnitine included in dog food?

L-Carnitine provides many health benefits (see below).  It acts as an antioxidant and also supports a healthy heart.   It is often added to dog food because its availability in food ingredients is degraded during the cooking and overall processing of the food products.


Is L-Carnitine a commonly used ingredient in dog food?

L-Carnitine is a very common dog food ingredient.  We found it in 17% of all dog foods in our database.


Common benefits or risks of L-Carnitine

There are many benefits of L-Carnitine.  As mentioned, L-Carnitine plays a critical role in energy production. It transports long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondria to produce energy.  The heart obtains 70–80 percent of its energy from fat breakdown and L-Carnitine’s role in energy metabolism of fatty acids makes it a key component in maintaining cardiovascular health.

L-Carnitine acts as an anti-oxidant helping to fight free-radicals and keep internal inflammation down.

Some suggest that that L-Carnitine can help with weight loss but this is claim is not generally supported by research.

At high doses (3 grams per day), carnitine supplements can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea.

Miscellaneous facts about L-Carnitine

L-Carnitine’s name is derived from the Latin carnus or flesh, as the compound was isolated from meat.

L-Carnitine is often sold as a human supplement to increase athletic performance, although research evidence suggests that there is no associated benefit.

Carnitine can be found at significantly lower levels in many other foods including nuts and seeds (e.g. pumpkin, sunflower, sesame), legumes (e.g. beans, peas, lentils, peanuts), vegetables (e.g. artichokes, asparagus, beet greens, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale),  and fruits (e.g. apricots, bananas)


Sources and further reading

image We’re joining the Tasty Tuesday Blog Hop sponsored by Sugar, the Golden Retriever and Kolchak from Kol’s Notes:

Share Button


  1. Great information once again!
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Tuesday’s Tails~GrizzlyMy Profile

    • Thanks. There are so many different ingredients, some of which are actually useful, and others, not so much.
      steve recently posted…Dog Food Ingredients A to Z: L-CarnitineMy Profile

  2. I love this series.

    Little note (and correct if I’m wrong) but how many people really know what cytosol and mitochondria are? Just wondering. Probably could use simplification or explanation? (Ok, I admit I do know what they mean but …)
    Jana Rade recently posted…Unraveling The Mystery Of Fascia And Myofascial Trigger Points (Part I)My Profile

  3. Ooh, I have missed so much of this series lately! Good grief. Thank you for another excellent explanation. Sometimes, one just doesn’t want to have to look up yet another ingredient. Speaking of which, when you get to “M” I would love to see what you find about Montomorillonite Clay (it’s a long one). I had to look it up the other day after seeing it in an ingredient list for dog biscuits but didn’t really take the time I should have.
    *high paw* to SlimDoggy Jack!
    Oz the Terrier recently posted…Nature’s Variety Makes Healthy Grain-Free BiscuitsMy Profile

    • We have already produced our “M” installment and it is not your suggested ingredient.

      Montomorillonite Clay is a mineral source and it looks to be in about 3-4% of the foods. We will do a second M post with this ingredient highlighted. Look for it in the next week or so.
      steve recently posted…Dog Food Ingredients A to Z: L-CarnitineMy Profile

  4. This one I’ve definitely seen on the ingredients list of some of our food, and had no idea what it was. Isn’t it funny how even things that are good for us or are dogs can become bad when used in high doses? That’s why it always seems “moderation” in everything is a good way to go!
    Jan K recently posted…Tuesday’s Tails – Meet MoeMy Profile

  5. Thank you are the information- I find it very helpful!
    Dina Mom recently posted…Walk PhotosMy Profile

  6. I like this series. 🙂
    Flea recently posted…Let’s Talk Pig Hearts – JNC PumperMy Profile

  7. Thanks for the great information.
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…Hunting Little Muscamoot BayMy Profile

  8. I eat kale and bananas all the time. So that’s good … Happy Tasty Tuesday. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar
    Sugar: Golden Woofs recently posted…Salmon For Dogs: Halo Purely For Pets Liv-a-LittlesMy Profile

    • Kale and bananas. Sounds delicious. With a bacon topping?
      steve recently posted…Wordless Wednesday 11-13-13My Profile

  9. I love these posts; it’s so much easier to come here and research my questions about ingredients than on my own. Thanks!
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…Fur Mom Confessions | My Car is the Dog Car, a Safer Dog CarMy Profile

    • Thanks Kimberly! We enjoy writing these posts on food and ingredients. Pretty interesting stuff.
      steve recently posted…Wordless Wednesday 11-13-13My Profile

Comments are now closed on this post.