The Effects of
Acetyl-L-Carnitine -- New
Research Yields Unexpected Benefits
Reprinted by permission from
Bill Faloon of The Life Extension Foundation
is the biologically active form of the amino acid L-carnitine and has been
shown to protect cells throughout the body against age-related degeneration.
Most clinical research has focused on the brain, where improved mood, memory
and cognition has been observed in response to acetyl-l-carnitine
administration. By facilitating the youthful transport of fatty acids into the
better enables dietary fats to be converted to energy and muscle.
The failure of doctors to suggest this natural amino acid correlates
directly with the lack of drug company advertising for the product.
There is little economic motivation for drug
companies to promote the benefits of carnitine to doctors when their patients
can choose from hundreds of lower cost carnitine supplements available over
the counter. In addition, acetyl-L-carnitine has been shown to maintain immune competence1
and reduce the formation of a cell-clogging pigment called lipofuscin2.
The most important effect of acetyl-l-carnitine, however, is to
work with coenzyme Q10 and
alpha lipoic acid to maintain the function of the
mitochondria3. When the mitochondria function dwindles,
health problems can become an inevitable consequence.
The effects of aging were dramatically demonstrated when scientists
measured cell energy activity and respiration rates in the heart mitochondria
of rats. Both cellular energy and respiration was depressed around 40%
in the older rats. When acetyl-L-carnitine was administered, their heart rates became
almost completely restored to the metabolic function level of young control
rats4. This study showed that the heart mitochondrial content of
cardiolipin, a key agent necessary for mitochondrial substrate transport, was
markedly reduced in aged rats. Treatment of aged rats with acetyl-L-carnitine
reversed the age-associated decline in cardiolipin content. This newly
identified mechanism helps explain why acetyl-L-carnitine may be beneficial in
supporting problems associated with congestion in the heart.
Aging causes alterations in brain cell metabolism. Acetyl-L-carnitine has
been shown to counteract several mechanisms of brain cell damage. A new study
shows that acetyl-l-carnitine helps with blood flow by maintaining the cell's energy cycle5. Other recent
studies show that acetyl-L-carnitine protects brain cells against glutamate-induced and ammonia-induced toxicity6.
As people grow
older, circulation to the brain diminishes, which sets off a cascade of
pathological events that results in neurological impairment. Acetyl-L-carnitine
appears to help protect against some of the known negative side effects that aging
induces in the brain.
Emergency use of Acetyl-L-Carnitine
In animal stroke models, an 11-point neurologic deficit scoring
system evaluated the treatment progression of acetyl-L-carnitine against a
control vehicle. Acetyl-L-carnitine was shown to support brain cells against injury and to improve neurological outcome with the treated animals
being significantly improved over the controls. This study suggests that
acetyl-L-carnitine might someday be used to improve the prognosis of stroke.8
Acetyl-L-carnitine was shown to have
a significant neuro-protective effect against the degeneration of
Acetyl-L-carnitine may facilitate nerve regeneration after nerve injury9.
Scientists surgically severed nerves and observed the typical motor-neuron
degeneration that occurred at the site of the injury. Acetyl-L-carnitine was
shown to have significant neuro-protective effect against the degeneration of
traumatized motor-neurons. These observations prompted the scientists to
postulate a better hypotheses concerning motor-neuron regeneration and even
the possibility of inducing neuronal proliferation. These findings have
practical applications in those who have suffered from loss of nerve function.
Another study showed that acetyl-L-carnitine helped prevent ethanol-induced brain
scientists who conducted this rat study stated that acetyl-L-carnitine might
have an indirect benefit by protecting brain cells against the
side effects of
It is well known that many anti-viral HIV-drugs contribute to peripheral
neuropathy. Doctors in London noted that treatment with acetyl-L-carnitine may
assist in the treatment of drug-induced peripheral neuropathy.11
In two related studies of
diabetic nerve degeneration and
acetyl-L-carnitine was shown to support nerve regeneration after
experimental injury.12 In the first study, doctors at the Hines VA
Hospital in Illinois showed that diabetic rats treated with acetyl-L-carnitine
maintained near normal nerve conduction velocity without any adverse effects
on glucose, insulin or free fatty acid levels. These observations led the
scientists to summarize that acetyl-L-carnitine can support nerve
regeneration after experimental injury.
Reports on acetyl-L-carnitine for the treatment of memory problems have
been contradictory. Some studies show encouraging degrees of efficacy, while
other studies show no benefit. A placebo-controlled study at Stanford
University School of Medicine in California showed that
patients under age 62 benefitted more from acetyl-L-carnitine than older
patients.15 The doctors concluded that acetyl-L-carnitine may
progression of memory problems in younger subjects. Though this is an
important study, patients over 61 may want to still consider ALC
for its other known neurological benefits, which were not evaluated in this
Acetyl-L-carnitine enhances energy production in every cell of the body.
recent studies illustrate the unique ability of acetyl-L-carnitine to increase
cellular respiration in aging models. A study from Berkeley examined liver
parenchymal cells in old mice after feeding them a 1.5% solution of acetyl-L-carnitine
for one month. The results show that acetyl-L-carnitine supplementation
supports the age-associated decline of mitochondrial membrane
function.16 A similar second study, also from Berkelely, again
supported the first study.17
Problems Associated with Eye Lense Clouding
Glycosylation and glycation are terms used to describe the binding of
sugars to proteins that form non-functioning structures (crosslinks)
in the body. Glycation-induced protein cross linking is most notable
in the lense of the eye, the brain and
collagen of the skin. Protein glycation has been implicated in the
development of cataracts. Scientists recently evaluated the effects of
L-carnitine and acetyl-L-carnitine on the glycation of lens proteins.
The results show that acetyl-L-carnitine suppresses glycation by 42%
but that l-carnitine has no effect.7
shows that acetyl-L-carnitine produces a 70% reduction in one
measurement of Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs). It is the
formation of AGEs that makes the clouding in the lense irreversible. This in-vitro
study shows, for the first time, that acetyl-L-carnitine (not L-carnitine)
may support anti-lense clouding by preventing glycation-mediated protein damage
in the eye lense side effects free.
The optimal dose range of acetyl-L-carnitine for healthy people is 1000 mg
to 2000 mg day. Those with memory problems should consider 3000 mg a day.
Synergistic nutrients that could be taken with acetyl-L-carnitine include
coenzyme Q10 (100-300 mg/day) and
alpha lipoic acid (250-500 mg/day).
A couple of sites that be helpful to see if any
of the above supplements are helping you are
You can perform a set of tasks and see your score as a pre-test. Then,
take any one or a combination of any of the supplements above for at least 2
weeks and then perform a post-test. Compare your scores and see if you
A plethora of published studies on
acetyl-L-carnitine has heightened our awareness of the multi-faceted benefits
of this amino acid side effects free. Published research shows acetyl-L-carnitine is critical to
youthful cellular function in the brain, heart, liver, peripheral nerve and
immune system.18 Supplementation with acetyl-L-carnitine
becomes an even greater consideration when we realize the potential
effects this amino acid may produce when taken in combination with coQ10 and
alpha lipoic acid.
Gymnastics to Maintain the Brain