Acetyl-l-carnitine (alcar) is a powerful addition to your supplement toolbox. This valuable little molecule has been a staple in the bodybuilding and brain-hacking communities for years now, thanks to its ability to help you lose weight and power up your brain.
While many have heard of the blood flow and memory support herb Ginkgo Biloba, a lesser-known supplement called Acetyl L-Carnitine (ACL) is also showing promise in research studies—and it’s worth your attention. Acetyl L-Carnitine is an amino acid that’s produced naturally in the body and helps the body produce energy. However, it is also a powerful antioxidant and can cross the blood-brain barrier where it plays a role in the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine as well as supports healthy blood flow to the brain.
While using a supplement naturally produced in the body sounds safe, still check with a doctor. Persons taking any supplement or nootropic to impact sleep must be careful. Acetyl L-Carnitine helps with healthy brain function, energy, and immune health. Each is essential for helping to sleep for more extended hours and wake up rested. Try a supplement that provides a strong concentration of Acetyl L-Carnitine to hit the sack better.
What is Acetyl-Carnitine?
Acetyl L-Carnitine or Acetyl-Carnitine (alcar) is a substance natural to the body. It is readily formed in cells by the enzymatic addition of an acetyl group to carnitine. Carnitine, also natural to the body, is a modified version of the amino acid lysine. In fact, alcar and l-carnitine are two different forms of the same amino acid. Enzymes can readily convert carnitine to Acetyl-Carnitine and back, according to the metabolic needs of the cell. Thus, inside the cell, Acetyl-Carnitine and carnitine are essentially interchangeable. The major difference between Acetyl-Carnitine and carnitine is that Acetyl-Carnitine is more easily absorbed from the gut, and more readily crosses the blood-brain barrier.
Advantages of Acetyl-Carnitine
As a supplement, Acetyl-Carnitine has certain advantages. Carnitine serves an important role in the burning of fat for energy and ferrying fatty acids across the walls of the mitochondria, where they are oxidized and turned into energy. On its return trip from inside the mitochondria, it brings back acetyl groups and other small fragments produced in fatty acid oxidation.
Carnitine’s role in fat metabolism leads it to affect, to some degree, all the other energy metabolism in the cell, including the burning of carbohydrates. In this way, it can be linked to glucose metabolism, insulin, and Metabolic Syndrome. Some authors have suggested that its important role in the burning of fat also makes it useful in diets for weight loss and overall health maintenance.
We get a constant supply of carnitine in our diet, especially if we eat meat. (In fact, the name carnitine is derived from the Latin word for meat.) Although most diets supply more than enough carnitine, our bodies have the capacity to make our own supply through enzymatic action on the amino acid lysine. By that process, even strict vegetarians are thought to be able to supply themselves with adequate amounts of carnitine.
Acetyl-Carnitine In The Body
In the body, Acetyl L-Carnitine is made from L-carnitine. L-carnitine is a derivative of the amino acid. L-carnitine and Acetyl L-Carnitine are used to help the body turn fat into energy. People take Acetyl L-Carnitine for improving memory and thinking skills, alcohol use disorder, bipolar disorder, nerve pain, fibromyalgia, infertility, and other conditions. The body can convert L-carnitine to Acetyl L-Carnitine and vice versa.
Most of the cells in your body contain carnitine, which your liver and kidneys make. Carnitine helps your cells produce energy. Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALC) is a form of carnitine that’s available as a supplement.
The Effects of Acetyl L-Carnitine on Memory and Cognition
As already mentioned, alcar and l-carnitine are two different forms of the same amino acid (lysine) with different workings and effects. While both l-carnitine versions support muscles, as well as the nervous and cardiovascular system, l-acetylcarnitine can help energize the brain, support nerves, and promote the synthesis of acetylcholine. L-carnitine, on the other hand, is mainly used as an enhancement for weight loss and workouts, due to the fast muscle recovery and energy boost offer by its fat-burning properties. While alcar also possesses the same ability to convert fat into energy, its primary benefit is related to the mind.
It has been proposed that by boosting metabolism in brain cells, the adverse effects of many brain disorders may be slowed, stopped, or even reversed, however, most research is from the 1990s and early 2000s. The most ambitious claim is that a type of l-carnitine, known as acetyl-l-carnitine (alc), can improve memory, cognition, and attention in people with Alzheimer’s disease (ad).
Many animal trials suggest that alc may support learning, memory, and emotional health. Scientists observed its ability to shield the brain and improve cognition by maximizing energy (ATP) production, scavenging free radicals, preventing brain aging caused by lactate buildup in the brain.
Based on these effects, acetyl-l-carnitine might also have nootropic effects (improve cognition) regardless of age, though studies haven’t researched this yet.
Benefits of Acetyl-Carnitine
Alzheimer’s Disease: Several studies show improvements or slower declines in mental ability in people with Alzheimer’s disease who took ALC.
Prediabetes: Research shows that people with prediabetes had some improvement in their blood sugar levels after taking ALC for 2 months.
Effects on Alcoholism: ALC may help reduce cravings in people who are alcoholics.
Depression: Research found that ALC treatment reduced symptoms of depression in older people. It also improved dysthymia, a milder form of depression, as well as a common medication. People with depression have low blood levels of a substance called Acetyl L-Carnitine, according to a Stanford University School of Medicine scientist and her collaborators in a multicenter study.
Fragile X syndrome. This is a genetic problem. ALC has been used to affect certain behaviors in boys with fragile X, such as their social skills and hyperactivity, but research is mixed as to whether it really helps or not.
Male infertility: Men taking ALC in some studies had better sperm movement.
Sciatica. Research has linked ALC with less pain or less intense pain in people with pain from sciatica.
Peyronies disease. This condition causes the penis to curve abnormally. In one study, men who took daily ALC for 3 months had less pain and curving of the penis. The problem also progressed less in the men taking ALC.
Suggested Dosages of Acetyl-Carnitine
Supplement makers suggest varying amounts of this supplement for different purposes. Common dosages range from 1 to 3 grams daily, divided into several doses. But optimal doses have not been established for any condition. Quality and active ingredients in supplements may vary widely from maker to maker. This makes it difficult to establish a standard dose.
Another cognition supplement many people are talking about is Agmatine Sulfate. You may want to look at this supplement for brain support as well.