Let's take a closer look at the compound, acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC). In simplest terms, ALC is an amino acid found in animal protein, predominately in red meats. It is most often used to help improve mood, endurance, and memory. However, to better understand acetyl-L-carnitine, we first need to take a look at L-carnitine.
While L-Carnitine helps transport fats to mitochondria, the cell's power plant, the acetylated version of carnitine (acetyl-l-carnitine) helps break fat down through oxidation, thereby creating energy from fats. 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. Effectively, carnitine is a modified version of lysine. Although your body can synthesize L-carnitine in the liver, it depends on outside sources (meat being a primary source) to fulfill its requirements. Acetyl-carnitine is also natural to the body. It is readily formed in cells by the enzymatic addition of an acetyl group to carnitine. Getting sufficient amounts of acetyl-L-carnitine and L-carnitine can present a problem for vegetarians who don’t eat any foods that contain these amino acids or any foods sufficiently high in lysine to allow the body to manufacture them at adequate levels.
L-Carnitine for Immunity, Muscle and Cell Improvement
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.
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, the specialized form of L-carnitine that we’ve already mentioned, acetyl-L-carnitine, that is often deficient even in meat eaters and that performs virtually all of the same functions – but better.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine for Natural Blood & Brain Booster
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.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine & Alzheimer’s Disease
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.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine & Parkinson’s Disease
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.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine & MS
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.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine for a Natural Mental Boost
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%.
How to Take Acetyl-L-Carnitine
Acetyl-L-Carnitine is typically available in supplement form with doses and times taken varying according to the reason for taking it. With all of these benefits we’ve listed here, it’s probably no surprise that you’ll find it as an ingredient in Jon Barron’s natural anti-aging supplement, Ever Young.
Learn more about natural anti-aging.