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Essential for Healthy Metabolism

This conditionally essential nutrient plays a key role in energy metabolism

Carnitine is a hydrophilic quaternary amine that plays an essential role in energy metabolism.1

Carnitine plays a critical role in energy production. It is an essential cofactor that helps transport long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondria so that they can be oxidized to produce energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).2

The vast majority of the body’s carnitine is stored in the cardiac and skeletal muscle. Skeletal muscle contains 90% of the body’s carnitine.1

Carnitine has additional roles, including scavenging and transporting toxic compounds out of the mitochondria.2

A cell membrane protein called OCTN2, encoded by gene SLC22A5, is responsible for transporting carnitine into cells.1

In most people, 75 percent of carnitine comes from diet, primarily from red meat, poultry and dairy products. The rest is synthesized endogenously from the amino acids lysine and methionine in the kidneys and liver.3

Learn the causes of carnitine deficiency and its impact on health.


  1. Longo N, Frigeni M, Pasquali M. Carnitine Transport and Fatty Acid Oxidation. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2016;1863(10):2422-2435. doi:10.1016/j.bbamcr.2016.01.023
  2. Carnitine: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health. Updated April 17, 2023. Accessed November 9, 2023.
  3. Dahash BA. Carnitine Deficiency. StatPearls [Internet]. Updated August 7, 2023. Accessed March 20, 2023.
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