Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has become an increasing epidemic. It is the most common cause of elevated liver enzymes and is associated with diabetes and obesity with advanced liver disease.

There are few guidelines for diagnostic and follow up methods and limited proven treatment options. Previous research of pharmacological agents to treat nonalcoholic fatty liver disease were performed with poor results.

A few studies have shown a beneficial effects of carnitine supplementation in liver diseases, however, these results have been inconsistent. This may be due to study design, dosage, or form of carnitine administered.

According to a review published last week in Systematic Reviews, researchers examined the efficacy and safety of carnitine supplementation on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

This review included 8 randomized controlled trials (RCTs). These studies had sample sizes between 60 and 80 individuals with NAFLD or non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) with a study intervention of 12 or 24 weeks. The dosing on L-carnitine supplementation ranged from 900 mg to 2250 mg per day.

The main drivers of NAFLD are inflammation and accumulation of lipids. L-carnitine has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects and is also closely related to fat metabolism and can improve liver function and improve triglyceride metabolism in patients with NAFLD.

As a result, L-carnitine supplementation significantly reduced AST and ALT levels and triglyceride levels with no adverse effects. Other research demonstrated this effect in older adults compared to younger individuals.

These individuals are in a chronic disease state and have increased demands then what could be obtained from the diet alone and therefore, dietary supplements should be considered to help prevent the progression as well as improve liver function. Other nutrients to consider include delta and gamma tocotrienols, phosphatidylcholine, fiber or resistant starch, n-acetylcysteine, fish oil, and probiotics.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: Liu A, Cai Y, et al. Efficacy and safety of carnitine supplementation on NAFLD: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Syst Rev. 2023 Apr 29;12(1):74.







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