One of the common weaknesses amongst older people is impaired metal and physical functionality. In 2007, a paper published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition highlighted the important role of L-carnitine in the health of older people.

L-carnitine is essential for transporting fatty acids to the mitochondria for conversion into cellular energy. Along with many other substances, L-carnitine concentrations decline as the body ages. This has important consequences given the vital role this amino acid composite plays in day-to-day physical and mental functionality. Therefore, it’s reasonable to postulate that L-carnitine supplementation may be beneficial for the health of the elderly.

The Italian Centenarian Study

The placebo-controlled randomised trial based at the University of Catania

1 investigated the effects of L-carnitine on the health of 66 Italian centenarians. The results revealed that oral administration of L-carnitine supplements improves cognitive awareness and leads to an increase in muscle mass. In addition, fat mass and fatigue declined in the study participants. Both mental and physical abilities improved in those individuals taking L-carnitine supplements.

The Importance of L-carnitine Supplementation for Aging Bodies

Arginine ErectionDuring the Italian study, participants that received L-carnitine supplements had an average decline in body weight of 1.6kg, compared with the placebo group average of 0.6kg. Also, those receiving L-carnitine supplements increased muscle mass by an average of 3kg compared with the placebo group. Having sufficient muscle mass is very important to protect joints and bones, especially in old age when misaligned joints and arthritis are more prevalent.

Researchers also measured the effects of fatigue after six minute walking corridor tests. Those taking L-carnitine supplements exhibited less fatigue symptoms. Also cognitive performance, as measured by the Mini Mental State Examination method (MMSE), increased from 0.6 to 4.1 points and mental exhaustion was reduced. The control group showed no improvement in fatigue or cognitive ability.

The researchers noted some limitations in their study.  Some participants suffered from mild cognitive defects, hearing or visual impairments, and illiteracy. Despite these different conditions, the researchers were able to conclude that the administration of L-carnitine in the form of dietary supplements can provide significant benefits for mental and physical performance.

  1. “Mariano Malaguarnera, Lisa Cammalleri, Maria Pia Gargante, Marco Vacante, Valentina Colonna and Massimo Motta, “L-carnitine treatment reduces severity of physical and mental fatigue and increases cognitive functions in centenarians: a randomized and controlled clinical trial”, Am J Clin Nutr December 2007 vol. 86 no 6 1738-1744.”