Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR) is an acetyl derivative of L-carnitine, which occurs naturally in the human body where it plays a role in maintaining an optimal balance between acetyl-CoA and CoA, as well as in transporting fatty acids to the mitochondrion, where they are utilized in the production of energy. The acetyl form of carnitine is characterized by its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, as well as by its higher bioavailability than the traditionally used L-carnitine.1,2
The Mitochondrion plays a role as a sort of energy center of the cell. L-carnitine increases the potential of the mitochondrion in burning fat, that is why preparations containing carnitine, including ALCAR, are often used as diet supplements for weight loss.3
Basic studies have shown, that ALCAR inhibits the formation of lipofuscin deposits- the lipid pigment deposited in the cells of various types of tissue, such as the heart and the brain, which plays a role in various aspects of the natural aging process, and is associated with such neurodegenerative diseases as Alzheimers and Parkinson's.4
Moreover, acetyl L-carnitine also acts as an acetyl group donor in the biosynthesis of acetylcholine thereby increasing the activity of the cholinergic system. This has a positive effect on memory and cognitive function in healthy people as well as elderly people with dementia, or those with a history of alcohol abuse.5–7
ALCAR is characterized by its anti-depressant qualities resulting from its positive effect on the activity of the glutamate receptor gene, one of the main neurotransmitters in the central nervous system. The therapeutic effect of ALCAR is able to be felt after 3 days of treatment, whereby the effects of conventional anti-depressant medication appear after up to 2 weeks.8,9
A daily dose administered orally is typically between 1500-2000 mg.5
Caffeine, Alpha-lipoic acid, choline, choline bitartrate, DMAE, calcium pantothenate, soy isoflavones, CoQ10, alcohol, DHEA
The dose of ALCAR should be lowered, when used with other supplements.
Interaction may occur with anticoagulants, such as Acenocoumarol or Warfarin.10
1. Nałȩcz, K. a., Miecz, D., Berezowski, V. & Cecchelli, R. Carnitine: Transport and physiological functions in the brain. Mol. Aspects Med. 25, 551–567 (2004).
2. Burlina, a P., Sershen, H., Debler, E. a & Lajtha, a. Uptake of acetyl-L-carnitine in the brain. Neurochem. Res. 14, 489–493 (1989).
3. Center, S. a et al. The clinical and metabolic effects of rapid weight loss in obese pet cats and the influence of supplemental oral L-carnitine. J. Vet. Intern. Med. 14, 598–608 (2000).
4. Amenta, F., Ferrante, F., Lucreziotti, R., Ricci, a & Ramacci, M. T. Reduced lipofuscin accumulation in senescent rat brain by long-term acetyl-L-carnitine treatment. Arch. Gerontol. Geriatr. 9, 147–153 (1989).
5. Acetyl-L-Carnitine Monograph. Altern. Med. Rev. 15, 76–83 (2010).
6. Rump, T. J. et al. Acetyl-l-carnitine protects neuronal function from alcohol-induced oxidative damage in the brain. Free Radic. Biol. Med. 49, 1494–1504 (2010).
7. Ando, S. et al. Enhancement of learning capacity and cholinergic synaptic function by carnitine in aging rats. J. Neurosci. Res. 66, 266–271 (2001).
8. Nasca, C. et al. L-acetylcarnitine causes rapid antidepressant effects through the epigenetic induction of mGlu2 receptors. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 110, 4804–9 (2013).
9. Wang, S.-M. et al. A review of current evidence for acetyl-l-carnitine in the treatment of depression. J. Psychiatr. Res. No–Specified (2014). doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2014.02.005
10. WebMD. Acetyl-L-Carnitine. at <http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-834-acetyl-l-carnitine.aspx?activeingredientid=834&activeingredientname=acetyl-l-carnitine>
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