L-Carnitine as a Diet Supplement in Patients With Type II Diabetes

Cureus. 2020 May 5;12(5):e7982. doi: 10.7759/cureus.7982.


Introduction: L-Carnitine is a very important component of the human body which is involved in cardiac function and generally in the proper functioning of the muscular system. Also, it contributes to the proper use of glucose by the cell, thereby improving the regulation of glucose metabolism of the diabetic patient and preventing complications such as fatigue, insomnia, and mental activity. In this paper we would like to show the therapeutic effect of L-carnitine on type II diabetic patients after 2 g/day oral administration of L-carnitine.

Methods: In this study 181 Greek patients, 84 men and 97 women, aged 50-65 years, Type II diabetics, were administered L-carnitine for six months. All of them were euglycemic, under the proposed treatment, with no diabetic complications or cardiovascular problems. They were under the Mediterranean diet trying to keep their body mass index (BMI) constant. They were neither smokers nor alcohol drinkers. They were administered 2 g/day L-carnitine, orally, once daily for six months, on an empty stomach. The blood tests included fasting glucose, glycated hemoglobin (HBA1c), total cholesterol, and triglycerides and they were performed before, three months after, and six months after the treatment initiation. We also evaluated their tiredness, insomnia, and mental activity at these time points; the participants were given forms to fill out (regarding the distance they are able to brisk walk thrice/week, the duration of their calm uninterrupted sleep and their performance in a cognitive screening test, respectively) and based on the results of their answers, they were allocated to graded groups and scale analysis was performed in each one of them.

Results: Fasting glucose mean decrease was 17.51 after three months of medication (p<0.05); the decrease though noted after six months was not statistically significant. HbA1c showed a statistically significant mean decrease in both three- and six-month milestones (0.335, p<0.05 and 0.623, p<0.05 respectively). Changes noted in cholesterol levels were not statistically significant. Triglyceride measurements showed a significant decrease; -15.38 after three months (p<0.05) and -31.39 after six months of treatment (p<0.05). Finally, significant changes were found in both time periods for tiredness (three months: -0.49, p<0.05, six months: -0.88, p<0.05), insomnia (three months: -0.49, p<0.05, six months: -0.88, p<0.05), and mental activity (three months: +0.25, p<0.05, six months: +0.89, p<0.05).

Conclusion: L-Carnitine could be a valuable dietary supplement in patients with type II diabetes who follow a Mediterranean diet and are under recommended treatment. Research in this field though is at an early stage and more studies should be performed.

Keywords: carnitine; diabetes management; dietary supplements; nutritional intervention; types 2 diabetes.