An Acetyl L carnitine supplement can perform many key functions in the body: improve the functioning of muscle tissue and of the immune system, boost mood and memory, and protect the aging process of the brain.
Let’s take a closer look at the compound, acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC). However, to better understand acetyl-L-carnitine, we first need to take a look at L-carnitine. Carnitine is a compound that your liver and kidney make during the metabolism of lysine, which is an amino acid that can be found in many proteins. Although your body can synthesize L-carnitine in the liver, it depends on outside sources (meat being a primary source) to fulfill its requirements. This can present a problem for vegetarians who don’t eat foods with acetyl-L-carnitine since L-carnitine performs several key functions in the human body.
For one, Carnitine can improve the functioning of the immune system by enhancing the ability of macrophages to function as phagocytes. And it can improve the functioning of muscle tissue. In fact, Carnitine has been shown to increase running speed when given prior to exercise.
Carnitine also plays a major factor in cellular energy production by shuttling fatty acids from the main cell body into the mitochondria (the cell’s energy factories) so that the fats can be oxidized for energy. Without carnitine, fatty acids cannot easily enter the mitochondria.
TWEET Tweet: #didyouknow Studies show acetyl-L-carnitine can improve attention span and increase short term memory! @BaselineHealth
Now, it should be noted that there is one study back in 2013 connecting carnitine with heart disease, but as Jon Barron pointed out, that study is seriously flawed, and its results are an outlier in the research on carnitine. In fact, more recent studies have concluded that carnitine supplementation is more likely to be heart protective.
There is, however, a specialized form of L-carnitine known as acetyl-L-carnitine that is often deficient even in meat eaters and that performs virtually all of the same functions – but better.
For example, in terms of cellular energy production, in addition to shuttling fatty acids into cell mitochondria, ALC provides acetyl groups from which Acetyl-Coenzyme A (a key metabolic intermediate) can be regenerated, thereby facilitating the transport of metabolic energy and boosting mitochondrial activity. But beyond that, the addition of the acetyl group makes ALC water soluble, which enables it not only to diffuse easily across the inner wall of the mitochondria but also to cross all cell membranes more easily.
In other words, ALC reaches parts of the body where L-carnitine cannot go. In particular, ALC readily crosses the blood/brain barrier, where it provides a number of specialized neurological functions. For example, it can:
- Facilitate both the release and synthesis of acetylcholine, a key brain biochemical.
- Increase the brain’s levels of choline acetyltransferase.
- Enhance the release of dopamine and improve the binding of dopamine to dopamine receptors.
- Protect the neurons of the optic nerve and the occipital cortex of the brain.
In addition, studies have shown that acetyl-L-carnitine can slow down the deterioration in mental function associated with Alzheimer’s along with slowing its progression. Part of this is a result of its ability to shield neurons from the toxicity of beta amyloid protein. As a result:
- ALC improves alertness in Alzheimer’s patients.
- Improves attention span.
- And it increases short term memory.
Through its action on dopamine (a chemical messenger used between nerve cells) and dopamine receptors, ALC seems to play a major role in minimizing the symptoms of Parkinson’s. It does this by enhancing the release of dopamine from dopaminergic neurons and improving the binding of dopamine to dopamine receptors. ALC also retards the decline in the number of dopamine receptors that occurs as part of the normal aging process and (more rapidly) with the onset of Parkinson’s. In fact, many researchers believe that Parkinson’s may be caused by a deficiency of dopamine. In addition, ALC also inhibits tremors.
And acetyl-L-carnitine may even play a role in helping with MS since ALC inhibits (and possibly reverses) the degeneration of myelin sheaths. But most of all, acetyl-L-carnitine just helps slow down the aging process of the brain, making it a key ingredient in any anti-aging supplement:
For instance, consider these brain benefits of ALC…
- ALC retards the inevitable decline in the number of glucocorticoid receptors that occurs with aging.
- It retards the age-related deterioration of the hippocampus.
- It retards the inevitable decline in the number of nerve growth factor receptors that occurs as we age.
- It stimulates and maintains the growth of new neurons within the brain (both independently of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) and as a result of preserving NGF).
- ALC protects the NMDA receptors in the brain from age-related decline.
- ALC inhibits the excessive release of adrenalin in response to stress and inhibits the depletion of luteinizing hormone releasing hormones and testosterone that occurs as a result of excessive stress.
- And ALC enhances the function of cytochrome oxidase, an essential enzyme of the Electron Transport System.
The mind boosting effect of an acetyl L carnitine powder supplement is often noticed within a few hours of taking this anti-aging nutrient — or even within an hour. Most people report feeling mentally sharper, having more focus, and being more alert. Some find a mild mood enhancement. More specifically:
- ALC improves learning ability along with both short term and long term memory.
- It improves mood by 53%.
- It both improves the quality of and reduces the need for sleep.
- It improves verbal fluency.
- And ALC improves hand eye coordination by some 300-400%.
With all of these benefits, it’s no surprise to find it as an ingredient in Jon Barron’s natural anti-aging supplement, Ever Young.
Learn more about natural anti-aging.
I have been told that ALC also will help neuropathy; not only diabetic neuropathy, but others as well. Also, I have been told by some health experts that there are over 100 different reasons (or types?) for having neuropathy; true or not true?
Dr. R. Bolmarcich
ALC is one of the most
ALC is one of the most studied nutritional supplements for managing peripheral neuropathy, and many of those studies have been positive. For example:
As for the causes of neuropathy, we don’t know if there are hundred, but there certainly are many, including:
Not to mention that the Merck Manual lists nearly 40 drugs that are known to cause neuropathy as a side effect, including:
I have heard that many l
I have heard that many l-carnitine capsules use the synthetic “D form” of l-carnitine, which I understand interferes with the natural action of l-carnitine.
It is very difficult to find this information from sellers/manufacturers. Can you recommend a brand/type, liquid or powder that uses naturally occurring l-carnitine?
Yes, carnitine occurs in two
Yes, carnitine occurs in two forms, known as D and L, that are mirror images (isomers) of each other. Only L-carnitine is active in the body and is the form found in food. But virtually every carnitine supplement from virtually any even barely reasonable company uses l-carnitine in their formulas—and in most cases is identified as such on the label.
Note, if you read above, we recommend acetyl-L-carnitine, which, as you can see from its name, uses the L form of carnitine. Baseline Nutritionals uses acetyl-l-carnitine in its Ever Young formula because of its ability to cross the blood/brain barrier. See list of product recommendations above under “products.”
Does L-carnitine/acetyl L-Carnitine support cancer in any way? Oncologists generally do not speak about supplements except to guide away from them. Basically they appear to know very little about supplements.
There aren’t a lot of studies
There aren’t a lot of studies on carnitine and cancer. The ones that do exist, however, connect some cancers with low levels of carnitine in the blood, which would make supplementation a good thing. http://www.researchgate.net/publication/19576663_The_serum_carnitine_status_of_cancer_patients.
There is one study connecting carnitine with heart disease, but as Jon Barron pointed out, that study is seriously flawed, and its results are an outlier in the research on carnitine. http://jonbarron.org/heart-health/acetyl-l-carnitine-supplements-and-heart-disease.
ALC MUST BE TAKEN ON AN EMPTY STOMACH WITH B6 AND C TO ENHANCE ABSORBTION