Background and aim: Clinical evidence which investigated the effects of l-carnitine, a vitamin-like substance, on weight loss had led to inconsistent results. This study therefore aimed to examine the effect of l-carnitine supplementation on body weight and composition by including the maximum number of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and to conduct a dose-response analysis, for the first time.
Methods and results: Online databases were searched up to January 2019. In total, 37 RCTs (with 2292 participants) were eligible. Meta-analysis showed that l-carnitine supplementation significantly decreased body weight [Weighted mean difference (WMD) = -1.21 kg, 95% confidence interval (CI): -1.73, -0.68; P < 0.001], body mass index (BMI) (WMD = -0.24 kg/m2, 95% CI: -0.37, -0.10; P = 0.001), and fat mass (WMD = -2.08 kg, 95% CI: -3.44, -0.72; P = 0.003). No significant effect was seen for waist circumference (WC) and body fat percent. The meta-analysis of high-quality RCTs only confirmed the effect on body weight. A non-linear dose-response association was seen between l-carnitine supplementation and body weight reduction (P < 0.001) suggesting that ingestion of 2000 mg l-carnitine per day provides the maximum effect in adults. This association was not seen for BMI, WC and body fat percent.
Conclusions: l-carnitine supplementation provides a modest reducing effect on body weight, BMI and fat mass, especially among adults with overweight/obesity.
Keywords: Body composition; Body mass index; Body weight; L-carnitine; Meta-analysis; Systematic review.
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