L-Carnitine for PCOS

Benefits of L-Carnitine for PCOS

A common problem that women with PCOS often experience is weight gain. This can be due to insulin resistance, which encourages more fat to be stored in the body. L-Carnitine is a supplement which has been popular with those who work out frequently and want to build muscle, but did you know that L-Carnitine can also benefit PCOS?

What is L-Carnitine and What Does It Do?

L-Carnitine is an amino acid produced by the body. Studies have shown that L-Carnitine can have potential benefits for aiding weight loss, metabolism, improved function of the brain and energy production in the body.

It works by transporting fatty acids to the mitochondria where they can be converted into metabolic energy. This essentially means releasing energy from fats. L-carnitine ensures that the mitochondria is producing energy efficiently.

What form of L-Carnitine should I take?

It is often recommended to take Acetyl L-Carnitine, which is the acetylated form of L-carnitine. This is because Acetyl L-Carnitine is more bioavailable. This means that the body can absorb it easier and quicker.

L-Carnitine and PCOS

Scientific evidence has shown that those who have PCOS may have lower levels of carnitine in their body, and higher levels of androgenic hormones, cholesterol and fasting insulin levels.

L-Carnitine can provide support for those with PCOS due to its ability to affect the metabolism of fatty acids, which PCOS patients are unable to do effectively. L-Carnitine also plays a role in the metabolism of glucose and decreasing oxidative stress. By reducing lipids and weight, it can play a role in reducing weight gain in those with PCOS.

PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a common disorder of the endocrine that affects 1 in 15 women who are of reproductive age. It results in polycystic ovaries which means that the ovaries can become larger and contain numerous harmless follicles (underdeveloped sacs). It can also cause weight gain due to insulin resistance, irregular periods due to irregular ovulation as well as high androgen levels (testosterone, or “male” hormones) which can lead to symptoms like hirsutism or alopecia.

High insulin levels are often associated with PCOS patients because they are resistant to the mechanism of insulin in the body. This can lead to an increase in androgenic hormones like testosterone and can cause the body to store fat leading to weight gain.

Side Effects of PCOS Treatments

Whilst it is difficult to understand the definite cause of PCOS, it can be genetic. It is often related to an imbalance in hormones within the body, including insulin levels.

Treatment options can include the use of Metformin to combat the resistance to insulin. This can cause gastrointestinal side effects including nausea, bloating and abdominal pain. Some may also experience a metallic taste in their mouth due to metformin remaining in the saliva.

Many are also prescribed to take the contraceptive pill to balance hormone levels and lower the level of androgenic hormones such as testosterone. Many are wary of the effects the pill may have on the body due it affecting hormone levels. These effects normally subsite within a few months but can cause spotting, nausea, mood changes and migraines.

Benefits of taking L-Carnitine for PCOS

Reduce BMI, Belly Fat and Body Weight

L-carnitine’s effects on the metabolism of fatty acids may help to reduce body weight and BMI in individuals with PCOS. By helping the body to utilise fatty acids, and reduce inflammation, L-carnitine can potentially contribute to weight loss. 6 studies which included 672 individuals who had PCOS demonstrated that the supplementation of L-carnitine significantly decreased body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, body weight and even total cholesterol levels. Based on scientific studies, those with PCOS may experience benefits such weight loss and BMI when taking L-carnitine, but more evidence is required and larger scale studies can further prove these results.

Improved Insulin Sensitivity

Insulin resistance is common in those with PCOS. Elevated insulin can lead to weight gain, as it promotes higher androgen levels and a slower metabolism. Evidence has shown that after l-carnitine treatment, there was a great improvement in insulin sensitivity as well as a decrease in hirsutism. This could be due to L-carnitine enhancing the androgen receptors, improving sensitivity to hormones like testosterone, and so lowering levels of androgen hormones.

May support fertility and pregnancy rates

The hormone imbalance and irregular periods that may arise from PCOS can make it harder for an individual to become pregnant. PCOS is actually one of the leading causes of infertility. However studies have shown that L-carnitine supplementation may help ovulation and clinical pregnancy rates by reducing oxidative stress, supporting more balanced hormone levels and energy production.

How effective is L-Carnitine for PCOS?

L-carnitine supplementation for those with PCOS has shown promising benefits, from helping reduce high androgen levels to aiding in weight management by improving insulin sensitivity.  However, it is important to note that more long-term research is required on the role of L-carnitine in individuals with PCOS. It is also important to remember that individuals may have different responses to different supplements, and one should always consult with their medical professional prior to taking new supplements.

How Much L-Carnitine Should You take for PCOS?

Studies investigated a range of L-carnitine dosages between 250mg-3000mg. It is safe to consume 2000mg of L-carnitine a day, however there can be side effects that accompany this, including indigestion. It is important to talk to your medical professional if you are experiencing any side effects, particularly if you are taking these supplements for long-term use.

L-Carnitine Supplements for PCOS

The Lamberts Acetyl L-Carnitine provides 500mg of Acetyl L-Carnitine in convenient one a day capsules. The acetyl form of this particular amino acid enhances the absorption in the body. They are suitable for vegetarians to!


  • PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a common condition that can cause polycystic ovaries, weight gain, irregular periods and high androgen levels.
  • Many PCOS individuals have high insulin levels due to resistance to insulin, and this can lead to increased androgenic hormones like testosterone which can cause excessive hair growth, hair loss and weight gain.
  • L-carnitine is an amino acid that is produced by the body that can help transport fatty acids to the mitochondria where they can be converted into metabolic energy - releasing energy from fat.
  • By helping the body to utilise fatty acids, improve sensitivity to hormones like testosterone, and reduce inflammation, L-carnitine can potentially contribute to a reduction in body weight and BMI and improve insulin sensitivity in those with PCOS.

The Benefits of L-Carnitine For PCOS

By Saarah Mengrani, MSc Biotechnology