Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALC)

Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALC)

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Short overview

ALC (acetyl-L-carnitine) is widely used at all areas of life, because it has a positive effect on brain functions. No wonder that elderly people are interested in it, as it stimulates brain functions and slows down memory loss. Furthermore, it was also revealed that it increases the amount of energy available for the cells and also strengthens the immune system.

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Other names

acetyl L-carnitine, acetyl-carnitine, L-acetyl-carnitine, LAC


ALC can be found in milk and the human body in small amounts.

Impact on improving performance

ALC, the acetylic form of L-carnitine can be much more efficient at transporting fats to the muscles where they can be burned, instead of being stored. However, while L-carnitine is known as a weight loss supplement, ALC is much more popular for its anti-aging properties than for its use as a weight loss supplement. It proved particularly effective in the treatment of health issues related to aging, including memory loss.

How it promotes fat loss:

  • It transports fat to the cells where it can be burned and transformed to energy.

How it supports brain function:

  • It facilitates the ability to concentrate by increasing the activity of neurotransmitters.

How it can prolong your life:

  • By fighting off free radicals it outweighs the effects of aging.

Health benefits

ALC deficiency symptoms

No known deficiency symptoms.

Possible use

Based on studies, ALC can be useful in the treatment of the following symptoms:

  • Problems of mental concentration
  • Scorbut
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Heart failure
  • Mental diseases
  • Depression
  • Herpes
  • Cardiovascular diseases

Detailed review

Further information

ALC (acetyl-L-carnitine) is an amino acid-like natural compound which can be found in nature in its original state. It is made up by joined acetyl-CoA and L-carnitine. It is apparently absorbed and utilized by the body much more efficiently than L-carnitine.

Similarly to L-carnitine, ALC supports the transportation of fat to the mitochondria or the energy centers of the cells, where they can be burned and converted to energy. ALC is often recommended for increasing energy levels (especially during endurance activities), reducing cholesterol levels and (indirectly) promoting fat burn. ALC can also prevent damages resulting from oxygen deficiency (for example, when you are gasping during a sprint) by protecting the heart and the lungs during endurance sports activities.

Supporting brain function

Despite all of the above, ALC has become popular for its brain-boosting effect and its capacity to slow down age-related memory loss. These benefits are supported by comprehensive scientific studies. A study which was conducted by Italian scientists under the supervision of Alberto Spagnioli reported that this substance stopped the mental deterioration of 63 sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease. Patients got better regarding all monitored fields including memory tests and physical condition.

Other studies, which were conducted in the USA and Europe, had similar results and also showed that ALC can significantly reduce depression, improve mood and significantly improve constructive thinking, awareness and reaction time. These positive effects apparently remain even after you stop taking ALC. This means, it doesn’t need to be taken on a regular basis to ensure positive effects. Life Extension Foundation actually recommends that ALC should be administered for less than 2 months, followed by a 10-month break.

How it works

Studies have shown that ALC increases blood stream to the brain and stimulates the activity of neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) in the brain, thus preventing the changes that take place in the brain cells in parallel to normal aging processes. It was also shown that it increases the nerve growth factor and the level of the choline acetyltransferase enzyme, all of which are essential for normal brain function including memory and study skills.

Let’s live a longer, healthier life

Aging does not only entail memory loss, and ALC has several other important functions as well. For example, it prevents deterioration of the immune system that often comes with age, by repairing damaged DNA in the white blood cells. Some scientists state that the deterioration of the ability of the human body to repair damaged DNA in the white blood cells plays an important role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and several other damages to the nervous system.

ALC also has antioxidant properties, which means, it can minimize damages to the tissues. Aging is also caused by the wear of the energy-producing parts of the cells, and ALC apparently helps maintain energy metabolism in the cells on the level it was in younger age. By helping the cells remain “young”, ALC (in principle) basically helps you remain young.


ALC has several great benefits, especially in relation to enhancing brain functions. Most likely, research on this popular substance will be continued. Until then, it seems to be a promising supplement for enhancing brain capacity and facilitating longevity.

Indications for use


There is no recommended daily allowance (RDA) for ALC. However, 500 mg 3 times a day can be sufficient for achieving the above mentioned benefits.


Although some studies recommend that it should be taken on an empty stomach, it may cause discomfort if taken without food.

Synergists of ALC

No known synergists.

Safety information

Effects on pregnant or nursing women have not been established yet.

Toxicity of ALC

No known toxicity.

Contra-indication and restrictions

Not documented.


• Bowman, B.A., "Acetyl-Carnitine and Alzheimer's Disease," Nutr Rev 50.5 (1992) : 142-4.

• Brooks, J.O., et al., "Acetyl-L-Carnitine Slows Decline in Younger Patients with Alzheimer's Disease: A Reanalysis of a Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study Using the Trilinear Approach," Int Psychogeriatr 10.2 (1998) : 193-203.

• Calvani, M., et al., "Action of Acetyl-L-Carnitine in Neurodegeneration and Alzheimer's Disease," Ann N Y Acad Sci 663 (1992) : 483-6.

• Carta, A., et al., "Acetyl-L-Carnitine and Alzheimer's Disease: Pharmacological Considerations Beyond the Cholinergic Sphere," Ann N Y Acad Sci 695 (1993) : 324-6.

• Garzya, G., et al., "Evaluation of the Effects of L-Acetylcarnitine on Senile Patients Suffering from Depression," Drugs Exp Clin Res 16.2 (1990) : 101-6.

• Kidd, P.M., "A Review of Nutrients and Botanicals in the Integrative Management of Cognitive Dysfunction," Altern Med Rev 4.3 (1999) : 144-61.

• Ruggiero, F.M., et al., "Effect of Aging and Acetyl-L-Carnitine on the Lipid Composition of Rat Plasma and Erythrocytes," Biochem Biophys Res Commun 170.2 (1990) : 621-6.

• Martignoni, E., et al., "Acetyl-L-Carnitine Acutely Administered Raises Beta-Endorphin and Cortisol Plasma Levels in Humans," Clin Neuropharmacol 11.5 (1988) : 472-7.

• Spagnoli, A., et al., "Long-Term Acetyl-L-Carnitine Treatment in Alzheimer's Disease," Neurology 41.11 (1991) : 1726-32.

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