Carnitine in the Dairy Chain; a metabolically active compound with the potential to prevent or postpone muscle decrease in elderly people

Project introduction and aim: Muscle protein metabolism is important in elderly people who face decreases in muscle mass and function. Carnitine, also known as vitamin Bt, is a metabolite with pivotal roles in the energy metabolism of mammals, including humans, by providing crosstalk and buffering capacity between the major metabolic pathways. Although humans are able to synthesize carnitine, dietary carnitine is thought to contribute to intramuscular carnitine status, especially in elderly. Carnitine is naturally occurring in relatively high amounts in cow milk and various dairy products.

Within this project a phylogenetic analysis of genes involved in the carnitine metabolism is performed to determine which genes have been well conserved during evolution. Well conserved genes indicate that these play an essential role in carnitine metabolism, and will be more intensively studied in the cross-sectional study; the Fitaal study.

In the Fitaal study, we investigate the carnitine status in fit and pre-frail/frail elderly compared to healthy young individuals. During ageing the intramuscular carnitine levels decline, but it is unknown if the degree of decline in carnitine status is associated with the physical fitness of elderly and the mitochondrial function. In addition, we study the cognitive function of the elderly. In total, 26 pre-frail/frail elderly, 26 fit elderly, and 26 healthy young individuals participate in this study. The study is conducted in Leeuwarden. More information can be found at

This project is a collaboration between Wageningen University, Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Science, Medical Center Leeuwarden, Sigma Tau B.V. and province of Fryslân.

Promovideo Fitaal studie: