Dog Food Ingredients A to Z: L-Carnitine
We 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)