L-carnitine: No health claims but high consumer awareness

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L-carnitine: No health claims but high consumer awareness
Leading L-carnitine supplier Lonza says 43% of consumers are aware of L-carnitine and its health benefits even if the EU has banned claims for the nutrient.

“As the use of health claims under [the EU nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR)] has been limited for health ingredients, it is important to see that L-carnitine is a very well established ingredient and end-consumers are aware of a large variety of health benefits of L-carnitine,” ​saidMarco Goßen, sales director nutrition for Germany, Austria and Benelux.

Of the 1000 Germans polled, 39% knew of weight management links; 27% knew of exercise and 20% of energy benefits.

Those polled were at least occasional consumers of any kind of dietary supplements and/or functional foods.

Those who actually took L-carnitine supplements, 59% consumed them for weight management, 33% for exercise and 10% for cardiovascular health.

The ingredient is typically formulated into food supplements, beverages, bars and other functional foods.

Under the strict NHCR, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) rejected L-carnitine for:

  • Faster recovery from muscle fatigue after exercise
  • Skeletal muscle tissue repair
  • Increase in endurance capacity
  • Maintenance of normal blood LDL-cholesterol concentrations
  • Contribution to normal spermatogenesis
  • Energy metabolism
  • Increasing L-carnitine concentrations and/or decreasing free fatty acids in blood during pregnancy

Out of date?

Professor Paul Greenhaff
Professor Paul Greenhaff

That opinion​ provoked 30-year L-carnitine researcher, professor Paul Greenhaff, from the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Nottingham Medical School to criticise EFSA’s health claims panel for missing what he deemed to be, “important literature concerning L-Carnitine supplements.”

Professor Greenhaff went on: “…we have published a series of papers over the past decade demonstrating that increasing muscle carnitine content in humans, via insulin mediated stimulation of muscle carnitine transport, has clear effects on tissue carnitine content, muscle metabolism concerned with the regulation of fat and carbohydrate oxidation (at rest and during exercise) and exercise performance.”

“I would be grateful if you could amend your document as soon as possible to take into account these research findings because at present its conclusions are incorrect and misleading. The literature sourced is also, in the main, out of date.”

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