Acetyl-L-carnitine

Acetyl-L-carnitine is similar in form to the amino acid L-carnitine and also has some similar functions, such as being involved in the metabolism of food into energy. The acetyl group that is part of acetyl-L-carnitine contributes to the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is required for mental function.

Acetyl-L-carnitine is a molecule that is produced naturally in the brain, liver, and kidney, but as we age, levels tend to decline. It is also available as a dietary supplement.

What it does

  1. Enhances Brain Function: ALC is structurally similar to the most abundant neurotransmitter in the brain, acetyl-choline, which becomes poorly utilised in Alzheimer’s disease. It is thought that ALC may mimic acetyl-choline in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. ALC may also act as an antioxidant in the brain, stabilise cell membranes, aid the removal of cellular waste and improve energy production in brain cells.
  2. Energy Enhancing: ALC is required to carry long chain fatty acids into the mitochondria, the energy-producing components of cells, so they can be metabolised into energy.
  3. Anti-ageing: Supplementation can help counteract the decline in mitochondrial function due to lower levels of ALC as we age.
  4. Cholesterol: Can help improve the ratio between HDL and LDL cholesterol, which is thought to be one of the most important factors in preventing cardiovascular disease.
  5. Heart Health: Fatty acids are the primary source of fuel for the heart. Carnitine is required for the transport of fatty acids into the mitochondria, where they are metabolised into energy and is crucial to the maintenance of heart health. Whilst ALC can be used for heart health, L-Carnitine is the preferred form for this purpose.

Potential Uses

Atherosclerosis Cholesterol Age related cognitive decline
Alzheimers disease Dementia Fatty liver disease
Muscle weakness Depression in the elderly Male infertility

Food sources of Carnitine, which is converted to ALC in the body:

Beef cod avocado
pork chicken whole-wheat bread
milk ice cream asparagus

Cautions

ALC should be avoided if pregnant or breastfeeding unless under supervision by a qualified medical health practitioner.

Slight digestive discomfort and skin irritation may be experienced.

Carnitine deficiency may arise from use of various drugs, including valproic acid, phenobarbitol, didanosine, zalcitabine, stavudine, and pivalic acid containing antibiotics.

 

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