Acetyl L-Carnitine: L- Carnitine’s Ace used to improve energy production.

by Brian Ellis
Over a century ago in 1905, L-carnitine was first isolated from red meat, which is how it derived from the root word carnus. In the human body it is synthesized with the help of the amino acids Iycine and methionine. Although it can be ingested from raw materials, the levels are generally not enough to contribute to optimal health, which is why supplementation of L-carnitine is often recommended.

Acetyl L-carnitine (ALC), the acetic acid ester of L-carnitine, is used to improve energy production because it shuttles acetyl groups and fatty acids into mitochondria. Many factors go into the level of ALC present in foods, including the type of food and preparation. While high quantities of ALC are only found in red meat, smaller levels are found in white meats, fish, shellfish and dairy products. And according to C. Leigh Broadhurst, PhD, a consultant for Jarrow Formulas (Los Angeles, CA), “We have to consider the ramifications of processed, overcooked and vegetarian foods on our carnitine intake … overcooking and overprocessing destroy carnitine in all foods.”

ALC continues to gain poularity since it is well absorbed by the body, which proves especially important since humans need at least 250-500 mg of carnitine per day. It has received notice for significantly improving memory impairment in rats in a study entitied” Acetyl-I-Carnitine ameliorates hypobaric hypoxic impairment and spatial memory deficits in rats.” The study reported the following: “Rats received daily Acetyl L-carnitine at a dosage of 75mg/kg body weight orally during exposure.

Subsequent to exposure, performance of the animals was tested in Morris Water Maze, which revealed working memory impairment that was significantly improved by Acetyl L-carnitine.”

Similar studies in humans, however, due partially to the lack of adequate research. In 2003, 11 clinical trials were run supplementing Alzheimer’s disease patients with ALC. While ALC did improve the overall clinical impression, it did not significantly affect the specific tests for cognition, functional ability or dementia severity. It is not known whether longer supplementation of ALC, possibly for several years, would be needed to see more desirable results, but more studies are planned for upcoming years.

One area that has shown promis “has a role in the treatment of cardiac disorders because it protects the heart muscle from oxidative stress and low oxygen levels due to pooring results for supplementation with ALC in humans is heart health. “Carnitine in any supplemental form,” said Jarrow’s Broadhurst, circulation or partial arterial blockage.” An inadequate supply of carnitine, on the other hand, can result in severe fatigue, muscle weakness and even heart failure.

In one study, elderly patients suffering from the very frequent complaint of fatigue were treated with ALC. The results were a decrease in physical fatigue, mental fatigue and severity fatigue, as well as improvements in functional status and cognitive functions, leading to the conclusion that administering ALC may improve both physical functions and the cognitive status in the elderly.


  • Jarrow Formulas data
  • Barhwala, Kalpana, et al. “Acetyl-l-Carnitine ameliorates hypobaric hypoxic impairment and spatial rnemory deficits in rats.” Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences, Defence Research and Development Organization, Rev. 26 (May 2007) • Hudson S., Tabet N. “Acetyl-L-carnitine for dementia.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. (Issue 2, 2003.)
  • Malaguarnera, M., et al. “Acetyl I-carnitine (ALC) treatment in elderly patients with fatigue.” Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 2003, Vol. 46 (Issue 2, 181-190, 2003.)

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