What is L-carnitine and which foods have it?

Q: Dear Dr. Mao,
I am confused about L-carnitine. My wife needs to reduce her triglycerides and increase her good cholesterol. What foods have the highest amounts of L-carnitine?

A: L-carnitine, or levocarnitine, is a quaternary ammonium compound derived from the amino acid lysine and is responsible for the transport of fatty acids within the cells, thereby affecting fate metabolism. Since this is a derivative of an essential amino acid, it must be obtained from outside sources.

The most available source is red beef meat (3.5 oz containing almost 95mg). However, with today’s additive-rich, hormone-laden, and fatty meats, the better natural source for L-carnitine can be nuts, seeds, and many vegetable products, including artichokes, asparagus, beet greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, garlic, mustard greens, okra, and parsley. The added benefits of the other elements of these foods far outweigh the red meat as a sole source of obtaining L-carnitine.

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This entry was posted in Diet and Nutrition, High Cholesterol, Q&A.