Short-term carnitine supplementation does not augment LCPomega3 status of vegans and lacto-ovo-vegetarians.J Am Coll Nutr. 2005 Feb; 24(1):58-64.JA
Long-chain polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids (LCPomega3) synthesis, notably that of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), from the precursor alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) proceeds with difficulty. We investigated whether carnitine supplementation augments the LCPomega3 status of apparently healthy vegans and lacto-ovo-vegetarians, who are expected to have low carnitine status.
Group A (n = 11) took 990 mg/day l-carnitine from weeks 1-4, and 990 mg/day l-carnitine + 4 mL/day linseed oil from weeks 5-8. Group B (n = 9) took 4 mL/day linseed oil from weeks 1-4, and 4 mL/day linseed oil + 990 mg/day l-carnitine from weeks 5-8. Fatty acid compositions of red blood cells, platelets, plasma cholesterol esters and plasma triglycerides were measured in the fasting state at baseline, and after 4 and 8 weeks.
Carnitine supplementation increased plasma free and total carnitine concentrations with 30 and 25%, respectively, but did not affect eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and DHA contents of any of the investigated compartments. EPA and DHA changes were negatively related to initial carnitine status.
Our results suggest that carnitine is not an important limiting factor, if any, for LCPomega3 synthesis in vegans and lacto-ovo-vegetarians. This conclusion is also likely to apply to omnivores. The most efficient means to augment EPA and particularly DHA status remains consumption of LCPomega3 from e.g. fish or supplements.