L-Carnitine In Brief

How L-Carnitine works in fat and energy metabolism

Fatty acid transport is often considered to be the main function of L-carnitine. From a scientific point of view, however, pH buffering seems to be more decisive in connection with fat and energy metabolism.
L-carnitine binds outside the cells with acetyl to the compound acetyl-carnitine, which buffers the pH and reduces the available acetyl molecules in the circulation, which can bind to coenzyme A (CoA). This reduces an accumulation of acetyl-CoA, which in turn keeps an important enzyme (pyruvate dehydrogenase) active for the carnitine-dependent transport of fatty acids into the mitochondria (site of combustion).
Within the muscle cell, the amount of free CoA is decisive for the combustion of free fatty acids in the mitochondrium. When a fatty acid (e.g. C-18) then becomes 9 acetyl units (C-2), all of which need a free CoA to enter the cancer cycle, the demand for CoA in the mitochondrium increases dramatically. L-carnitine can temporarily bind these C-2 units as well and maintain the energy-generating processes, which helps to increase the oxidation of fats.

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Author: Remo Jutzeler
Ing. Applied Food Sciences UAS
MAS Nutrition & Health ETHZ

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