Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR) Benefits Nootropics

Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR) Benefits Nootropics

Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR) is an important amino acid that is primarily involved in transferring fatty acids into mitochondria for energy production, is a precursor (when accompanied by choline) to the critical acetylcholine, a key neurotransmitter for audio/visual processing, memory and learning, and is synthesized to L-carnitine, a derivative of the amino acid lysine, essential to immune function and mood balance. It has become very popular as an energy, brain, and mood booster supplement. There are a certainly a range of benefits, but it is ALCAR's ability to easily cross the blood-barrier that makes them so available.

Why is ALCAR important?

L-carnitine is critical to cellular metabolism, and acetyl-L-carnitine increases energy production in the mitochondria (cell power sources), which is why it can boost physical energy and mental performance. Several studies have linked low ALCAR levels to fatigue and showed it be as effective for curing fatigue as some medications. Acetylcholine is also linked to cognitive deficiencies as well as low energy levels, so the relationship between ALCAR and the production of the important acetylcholine is likely another reason for its key benefits.

Research shows ALCAR has a host of other benefits as well.

One of ALCAR's most important benefits derives from its strong antioxidant capacity, promoting the production of glutathione, a free radical scavenger, as well as being highly neuro-protective. In a day and age when oxidation and free radical damage is endemic, we need every resource to defend against a toxic environment. 

ALCAR is believed to reduce protein oxidation, as well as excitotoxicity. A study of administered ALCAR showed it helped "reduce cell death after exposure to an excitotoxic amino acid derivative and glutamate receptor agonist (NDMA)." It also acted to reduce the amount of damaged fats in the brain, which protects against degenerative diseases. Not only does ALCAR act as a neuro-protectant, especially when there is a lack of oxygen, but also as a stress protectant. Patients recovering from strokes are sometimes given ALCAR in order to speed recovery.

ALCAR for mood.

It also seems to have an effect on serotonin production, which may explain the positive effects on mood and its use as a form of antidepressant. A 2005 study showed it reduced anxiety-related behavior. Another double-blind study of 60 seniors with mild depression who were given carnitine daily for 2-months showed significantly reduced symptoms as compared to placebo.

Some studies suggest ALCAR may have a protective effect on the central nervous system and the heart, particularly useful for people who suffered a stroke. A 2007 study reported that it both reduced systolic blood pressure, and strengthened blood vessels that regulate blood flow. Diabetes patients reported reduced pain from peripheral neuropathy after ALCAR use.

ALCAR and the brain.

ALCAR shows strong effects on memory and has been well studied as an adjunct treatment for Alzheimer's disease. There is more data that shows it may slow age-related mental degeneration not associated with Alzheimer's. One study of elderly people given regular doses of ALCAR saw improvements in directional and verbal memory skills. It has been shown to enhance visual memory and attention in people with Down Syndrome, and helps fight cognitive decline and improve focus in general. Again, this is probably why it is so popular as a focus and energy nootropic

Acetyl-L-carnitine as part of a nootropic complex.

Acetyl-L-carnitine has found success as a stand alone supplement, but most commonly it is used as part of a nootropic complex. Nootropics are supplements that enhance mental function and performance. Because studies have evinced the benefits of ALCAR on learning, memory (spatial and verbal), critical thinking abilities, and mental focus, many companies have added it to their nootropic formulas. Again, it's ability to cross the blood-brain barrier makes it a highly synergistic and useful component in energy, focus, and mood boosters. We actually tested a version of our ELEVERA focus stimulant supplement with and without ALCAR -- it was quickly apparent that it was an excellent addition for enhancing attention and mood.

Moreover, ALCAR is created in your body naturally, so it can be considered safe as well as effective. It can be easily obtained by eating meat (lamb), fish, dairy, asparagus, and avocados. Some people can not produce their own carnitine, or can become deficient due to certain situations, but the good news is that supplementation has shown to be very effective. Make sure to look for a high quality supplement, and check with your doctor about dosage, or if you are taking any medications (especially thyroid.)

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Mehta, Sweety (2013): "Activation and transportation of fatty acids to the mitochondria via the carnitine shuttle".

Marcovina, S. M.; Sirtori, C.; et al. (2013): "Translating the basic knowledge of mitochondrial functions to metabolic therapy: Role of L-carnitine". Translational Research, 161

Benvenga S1, Ruggeri RM, et al (Aug 2001): "Usefulness of L-carnitine, a naturally occurring peripheral antagonist of thyroid hormone action, in iatrogenic hyperthyroidism: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial". The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism, 86.

Pekala, J.; Patkowska-Sokoła, B.; et al. (2011). "L-carnitine--metabolic functions and meaning in humans life". Current drug metabolism, 12.

Dinicolantonio, J. J.; Lavie, et al. (2013). "L-Carnitine in the Secondary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis"

The opinions expressed in this article are of the author. Content and other information presented on the site are not meant to be medical advice or any substitute for professional advice, counseling, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard professional medical or mental health advice from your physician or other qualified health provider.

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