If you have PCOS, you’ve probably tried a number of things to help your health, and you probably have a number of concerns.
Women with PCOS are more likely to be overweight or obese, more likely to suffer metabolic disorders and insulin-related conditions, and, alongside the extra facial hair, irregular periods, and infertility, it’s a lot to take.
I care deeply about this condition and have worked in my own way to help those who have it for many years (see my PCOS program: PCOS Unlocked)
But the more prevalent PCOS becomes, the more research is done, and new things are coming out all the time!
I’m so excited to bring you this information on L-carnitine, a very special amino acid that can help women with PCOS lose weight naturally and feel more energetic.
L-carnitine is a nootropic amino acid found typically in meat products and milk.
Nootropics are types of supplements (like adaptogens) that work with the brain to increase it’s efficiency.
L-carnitine helps alleviate the effects of aging and disease on mitochondria, while increasing the mitochondria’s potential to burn fat.
For most people (i.e. those without PCOS) it is not a nutrient of concern and they synthesize an ample amount internally and from lysine and methionine in foods. However, it has been found that women with PCOS are often deficient in L-carnitine, regardless of their diets.
L-carnitine improves insulin sensitivity and helps lower blood glucose, which is valuable for women with PCOS who are usually insulin resistant.
This ability, plus the fact that PCOS women are often deficient in L-carnitine seem to make l-carnitine effective in promoting natural weight loss.
It is also known to increase energy, lower ammonia, enhance energy during cancer treatment, improve exercise tolerance and energy in those with conditions like angina and congestive heart failure, and enhance sperm morphology, in case you were curious!
Although studies regarding weight loss with l-carnitine in general seem to find mixed benefit, studies which look at those deficient in l-carnitine or those with insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome find it does help.
In fact, a recent study of PCOS only women found that compared to placebo, statistically significant weight loss occurred over 12 weeks with supplementation.
This is excellent news since it is no secret that PCOS women, with their hormone imbalances and insulin resistance typically struggle to maintain a healthy weight.
Adverse effects are rare but can include gastrointestinal disturbance, body odor, and seizures. I’ve heard from some women that it causes a “fishy” odor in the urine, which can be unpleasant. It may possibly interact with anticoagulants and certain thyroid medications so, like with any supplement or diet, you should get the okay from your doctor.
Typical doses in the studies that showed weight loss benefits ranged from 500-2,000 mg a day, with 2,000 mg. a day being what was used with PCOS women.
Though the evidence for this supplement in PCOS are somewhat new, there’s enough promise that I find it interesting for PCOS ladies looking for weight loss help.
It’s not a magic pill, and a focus on healthy dietary habits is absolutely still vital for women the PCOS.
But, one of the cool things about L-carnitine is that it is best deposited into muscles in hyperinsulinemic states, or during times when insulin is high (which is almost all the time for most PCOS women).
That means those with insulin resistant conditions would see the most benefit from supplementation.
If you’re interested in trying L-carnintine, give it at least 12 weeks of supplementation. This is one (find l-carnitine on amazon here) I particularly like because the pills are in 1000 mg amounts so you can just take 2 a day, with meals.
Do you take l-carnitine and has it helped you? What supplements are part of your PCOS routine?
(Here’s the citation for that study, in case you want to check it out-
Samimi, M., Jamilian, M., Afshar Ebrahimi, F., Rahimi, M., Tajbakhsh, B., & Asemi, Z. (2016). Oral carnitine supplementation reduces body weight and insulin resistance in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized, double‐blind, placebo‐controlled trial. Clinical endocrinology.)