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Acetyl-L-Carnitine Supplement for Brain Health

Updated on February 10, 2015

Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR) is an important amino acid that is normally found in the body. It helps the body produce energy and plays important roles in heart and brain function, muscle movement, and other processes. In particular, it helps transport fat into the power-plants of the cells (called the mitochondria) where it gets converted into cellular energy called ATP.

Acetyl-L-Carnitine can Cross Blood-Brain Barrier

Acetyl-L-carnitine is simply the amino acid L-carnitine with an acetyl group attached to it. With this attachment, it makes acetyle-L-carnitine more easily cross the blood-brain barrier where it can provide antioxidant support and assist in cellular energy production. Therefore, it is the Acetyl-L-carnitine form that is neuro-protective.

When evaluating the efficacy of a supplement, we have to look at how well it crosses the blood-brain barrier. This is the barrier that is supposed to keep bad stuff out of the brain.

Acetyl-L-carnitine turns out to be able to cross the blood-brain barrier quite easily as mentioned in the book "The Brainwash: A Powerful, All-Natural Program to Protect Your Brain..."

"Acetyl-L-carnitine is potent in assisting the creation of energy in brain cells by delivering essential fatty acids to them, and by assisting with brain cells' elimination of waste products. This nutrient is readily absorbed across the blood-brain berrier and is helpful in the manufacture of the brain messenger chemical acetylcholine." [page 130]

Acetyl L-Carnitine is Neuro-Protective

Acetyl-L-carnitine is a precursor to acetylcholine, one of the brain's important neuro-transmitters. A "precursor" just means that it is "used in the formation of".

It has been used as a supplemental treatment of Alzheimer's Disease and age-related memory impairments and can delay the progression of early-stage Alzheimer's Disease.

Animal studies with mice showed that acetyl-l-carnitine improved their memory and physical activity.

Dr. Perricone writes in The Perricone Prescription that "Acetyl L-carnitine is therapeutic to brain cells." [page 100]

Dr. Hyman writes in The UltraMind Solution ...

"... many "neuroprotective" strategies are under investigation and have shown promise, including lipoic acid, acetyl-L-carnitine, coenzyme Q10, and NADH. All help repair the damage to your mitochondria -- damage from any source -- and protect your neurons. The result is improved brain function." [p249]

When Dr. Weil came onto The Doctor Oz Show, he mentioned two supplements that he takes everyday for brain health. That is Co-Q10 and Acetyl-L-Carnitine. Acetyl-L-Carnitine turns on a growth factor in the brain.

The book Ultraprevention says that acetyl-l-carnitine "has a protective effect on brain neurons and the liver" [Liponis, Mark; Hyman, Mark, M.D. (2003-09-16). Ultraprevention (p. 86). Simon & Schuster, Inc.. Kindle Edition. ]

In supplements, acetyl-l-carnitine sometime comes bundled with alpha-lipoic acid because they are both neuro-protective.


Not all supplements are suitable for all individuals and may have interactions with other medicines or drugs. Check with your doctor first, especially is you are pregnant or breast feeding. Do not use acetyl-L-carnitine if you have an under-active thyroid, or are using Acenocoumarol (Sintrom) or Warfarin (Coumadin).

Author is not a medical professional and may receive revenues from display ads and links within article. Author does occasionally use Acetyl-L-Carnitine.


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