Last update July 23, 2022


Very Low Risk

Safe. Compatible. Minimal risk for breastfeeding and infant.

Carnitine is a derivative of the amino acids L-lysine and L-methionine. It is widely distributed in all mammalian tissues and is very abundant in muscle tissue and is essential in fatty acid metabolism (AESAN 2021). It is used as levocarnitine in the treatment of primary (extremely rare) and secondary deficiency (due to hemodialysis, cardiomyopathy or HIV) of carnitine (Evans 2003). Oral or intravenous administration 2 to 4 times a day. In the form of acetylcarnitine it is used in various psychiatric disorders.

Carnitine is present breast milk: Mean concentration level the first month is about 7 to 12 mg/L (Mitchell 1991, Penn 1987, Rovamo 1986, Cederblad 1986, Sandor 1982), with lower levels in the next following months. (Rovamo 1986, Sandor 1982)

Milk carnitine levels are not affected by carnitine supplementation: breastfed infants of carnitine-deficient mothers require carnitine supplementation. (Studinski 2011)

Due to its protein nature it would be digested and inactivated in the gastrointestinal tract. Its very low oral bioavailability, < 20% (Evans 2003), minimizes the passage into plasma of the infant from ingested breast milk, except in the premature and in the immediate neonatal period in which there may be greater intestinal permeability.

The maximum daily amount of levocarnitine as a food supplement should not exceed 2 g. (AESAN 2011)


We do not have alternatives for Carnitine since it is relatively safe.

Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM team of health professionals, and are based on updated scientific publications. It is not intended to replace the relationship you have with your doctor but to compound it. The pharmaceutical industry contraindicates breastfeeding, mistakenly and without scientific reasons, in most of the drug data sheets.

Jose Maria Paricio, Founder & President of APILAM/e-Lactancia

Your contribution is essential for this service to continue to exist. We need the generosity of people like you who believe in the benefits of breastfeeding.

Thank you for helping to protect and promote breastfeeding.

José María Paricio, founder of e-lactancia.

Other names

Carnitine is also known as

Carnitine in other languages or writings:


Main tradenames from several countries containing Carnitine in its composition:


Variable Value Unit
Oral Bioavail. 5 - 18 %
Molecular weight 161 daltons
Protein Binding Bajo - Low %
VD 0.2 - 0.4 l/Kg
pKa 4.2 -
Tmax 3.3 hours
15 - 17 hours


  1. AESAN. Informe del Comité Científico de la Agencia Española de Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutrición (AESAN) sobre condiciones de uso de determinadas sustancias distintas de vitaminas, minerales y plantas para ser empleadas en complementos alimenticios - 1. Revista del comité científico nº 17. 2012 Full text (in our servers)
  2. Studinski AL, Pino GB, Grycki E, Hofherr S, Matern D, Ellison J. Correlation of plasma and breast milk carnitine levels and the effect of carnitine supplementation in a lactating woman with carnitine uptake deficiency (CUD). Mol Genet Metab 2011;102:315. Poster 99. doi:10.1016/j.ymgme.2010.11.160
  3. Evans AM, Fornasini G. Pharmacokinetics of L-carnitine. Clin Pharmacokinet. 2003 Abstract
  4. Mitchell ME, Snyder EA. Dietary carnitine effects on carnitine concentrations in urine and milk in lactating women. Am J Clin Nutr. 1991 Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  5. Penn D, Dolderer M, Schmidt-Sommerfeld E. Carnitine concentrations in the milk of different species and infant formulas. Biol Neonate. 1987;52(2):70-9. Abstract
  6. Rovamo LM, Salmenperä L, Arjomaa P, Raivio KO. Carnitine during prolonged breast feeding. Pediatr Res. 1986 Abstract
  7. Cederblad G, Svenningsen N. Plasma carnitine and breast milk carnitine intake in premature infants. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1986 Abstract
  8. Sandor A, Pecsuvac K, Kerner J, Alkonyi I. On carnitine content of the human breast milk. Pediatr Res. 1982 Abstract

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