We examined the effects of citric acid and l-carnitine administration on physical fatigue. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, 3-way crossover study, 18 healthy volunteers were randomized to oral citric acid (2,700 mg/day), l-carnitine (1,000 mg/day), or placebo for 8 days. The fatigue-inducing physical task consisted of workload trials on a cycle ergometer at fixed workloads for 2 h on 2 occasions. Before the physical load, salivary chromogranin A, measured as a physiological stress marker, was lower in the group given citric acid than in the group given placebo. Also, after the physical load, the subjective feeling of fatigue assessed with a visual analogue scale was lower in the citric acid group than in the placebo group. In contrast, l-carnitine had no effect on chromogranin A or subjective fatigue. These results suggest that citric acid reduces physiological stress and attenuates physical fatigue, whereas l-carnitine does not.
Keywords: chromogranin A; citric acid; cycle ergometer; l-carnitine; physical fatigue.