Benefits of Acetyl-L-Carnitine

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Supplementing your diet with Acetyl-L-Carnitine is a great way to boost cognitive health, as well as effortlessly protect various other organ systems.

What is Acetyl-L-Carnitine?

Acetyl-L-Carnitine (often shortened to ALCAR) is a form of l-carnitine that can be produced naturally within the body, primarily derived from l-carnitine. It is also known as the most bioavailable form of carnitine in the body. Whereas l-carnitine is famed for its ability to improve energy metabolism and aid in weight loss efforts, Acetyl-L-Carnitine has the capacity to pass through the blood-brain barrier, making it extremely important for cognitive health and the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases. Given that the body can freely transform l-carnitine into the acetyl version, and vice versa, most people are able to maintain Acetyl-L-Carnitine levels based on their diet, but certain health conditions and health goals may require supplementation.

If you want to boost your levels of this amino acid, you should consume more red meat, pork, chicken, and seafood, along with raw dairy products, like milk, yogurt, and cheese. From there, the body can convert the l-carnitine into the acetyl variety, allowing you to benefit from its many effects.

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Acetyl-L-Carnitine Benefits

The primary benefits of this amino acid include the following:

  • Preventing memory problems
  • Weight loss
  • Reducing fatigue
  • Preventing mental disorders

Memory Problems

Being able to cross the blood-brain barrier means that this amino acid can help to break down fatty deposits in the brain, some of which can prevent age-related memory loss and improve cognitive performance.

Mental Disorders

According to a detailed research paper by Dr. J J Burrascano on nutritional supplements in disseminated Lyme disease, Acetyl-L-Carnitine can help enhance mood, cognition function, and memory.

Fatigue

The increased energy production derived from Acetyl-L-Carnitine can help to overcome fatigue and general exhaustion.

Peyronie’s Disease

Using this supplement can counter the negative effects of Peyronie’s disease, which is an inflammatory condition that affects the penis.

Weight Loss

As mentioned, the acetyl variety of carnitine can do many of the same things as L-carnitine, including boosting energy metabolism and fat-burning, thus aiding in weight loss efforts.

Peripheral Neuropathy

A 2015 meta-analysis published in PLOS One journal revealed that the acetylated form of L-carnitine may help moderately reduce pain in peripheral neuropathy patients. However, further trials are required to establish these findings. 

Acetyl-L-Carnitine vs L-Carnitine

These two substances are two different forms of the same amino acid, but they have varied functions within the body.

  • The acetyl group on the former enables it to move more freely within the body, thus having a larger impact on other bodily functions, more so than the basic l-carnitine variety.
  • The acetyl form of this amino acid possesses many of the same abilities as the regular l-carnitine variety but in a less significant way.
  • While the acetyl form is known for its impact on cognitive abilities, the regular l-carnitine is primarily praised for its effects on metabolism and energy production.

Acetyl-L-Carnitine Side Effects

Although this amino acid can have many impressive benefits, there are some potential side effects associated with supplementation, such as complications with pregnancy, higher risk of seizures and complications with the thyroid gland. Experts typically recommend between 500 and 2,000 mg per day, depending on your level of physical exertion or other pre-existing health conditions.

  • Pregnancy: The safety of taking this supplement as a child or a pregnant/breastfeeding woman is unknown, and should, therefore, be avoided.
  • Seizures: In some cases, supplementation with this amino acid can worsen seizure disorders, so speak with your doctor if you suffer from one of these conditions.
  • Thyroid: The effect of this compound on the hormones, as well as blood pressure, is well documented, so avoid using this supplement if you are already taking medication for any of these issues.
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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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