What is Acetyl-L-Carnitine?
Acetyl-L-carnitine or ALCAR, is an acetylated form of L-carnitine. ALCAR has been claimed to be superior to normal L-carnitine in terms of bioavailability. However, at least one study has suggested that the acetylated form may have a lower oral bioavailability.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine is L-Carnitine, acetylated.
L-carnitine is derived from the lysine and methionine amino acids.
It is claimed that ALCAR provides several benefits. Advocates of acetyl-L-carnitine market it as a life extension supplement. There may be some benefit in cases of end stage renal disease or peripheral arterial disease. When supplemented alongside Lipoic acid, ALCAR appears to reverse some of the damage to mitochondria associated with aging.
ALCAR supplementation has been shown to be neuroprotective in instances of cerebral ischemia, peripheral nerve injury, and to be beneficial in the treatment of Parkinson's disease in animals.
ALCAR supplementation has also been shown to reverse syptoms associated with mental decline in the elderly.
ALCAR is being researched in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.
Acetyl l-carnitine is added to dietary supplements to augment the amount of carnitine that the body naturally produces. It is believed that acetyl l carnitine supplements may be necessary. The reason is simply because sometimes the body’s requirements may exceed the amount that the body produces.
In order for the body to produce carnitine, it needs the amino acids lysine or methionine and vitamin C (ascorbic acid). So a shortage of one or both amino acids and/or vitamin C will lead to inadequate production of carnitine. Dietary supplements that contain acetyl l-carnitine are insurance against carnitine deficiency.
In the human body, carnitine transports long chain fatty acids into the cells, so that they can be used for energy. Several steps are required for this process and dysfunction at any or all of the steps leads to genetic disorders including primary carnitine deficiency, in which the body cannot convert fat into energy. Because carnitine is necessary to convert fat to energy, acetyl l carnitine is commonly added to “fat burners” and other weight loss supplements.
Studies have shown that supplements combining acetyl l-carnitine and alpha lipoic acid appear to reverse the damage done to certain cellular structures, known as mitochondria, by the aging process. Mitochondria exist in all of the cells of the body.
They are the cellular structures that have been described as “cellular power plants”. These structures churn out energy for the cell by converting other compounds into ATP, which has multiple functions at the cellular level, including energy transfer.
Mitochondria also store and release calcium. In nerve cells, the release of calcium back into the cell initiates events that cause the release of neurotransmitters, which transmit signals among different nerve cells in the brain and body. In other words, neurotransmitters tell the muscles and organs what to do.
In endocrine cells found in the pituitary, thyroid and adrenal glands, the release of stored calcium triggers the release of different hormones. Many other processes are controlled by the mitochondria and acetyl l carnitine, along with alpha lipoic acid, protects the mitochondria from damage and may even reverse damage that has already occurred.
Acetyl l-carnitine supplements have been shown to reduce mental decline in elderly patients. It is being researched as a treatment for Alzheimer’s. Studies have shown neuro-protective benefits to stroke victims and those suffering from peripheral nerve damage. Acetyl l carnitine supplements have been used for treating Parkinson’s disease in animals.
In people with type II diabetes, acetyl l-carnitine supplements improved the transfer of glucose from the blood stream to the cells and improved the body’s ability to convert the glucose into energy. In other words, it lowered blood glucose levels in diabetics, but not in control groups. It may be that carnitine deficiency is an underlying problem in diabetes.
Our knowledge of the human body and how it works continues to grow. Many nutrients are being added to the list of vitamins and minerals that are essential to human health.
Many health professionals believe that most chronic health conditions, including obesity, cancer and heart disease, are related to chronically poor nutrition. People may not show outright symptoms of nutrient deficiencies, but complain of problems such as fatigue, trouble controlling their weight, headaches, digestive problems, forgetfulness, nervousness, depression, etc.
The USDA creates recommended daily allowances based on the average intake of a vitamin, mineral or other nutrient. These recommendations are believed to be sufficient to prevent outright deficiency diseases, but may be far less than what an individual needs for overall good health, to prevent chronic illnesses and to live a longer life.
Acetyl l-carnitine is one nutrient that has no established daily value, but is believed by many to extend both the quality and the length of one’s life.
Some supplements contain carnitine or l-carnitine. Acetyl l carnitine is the form of carnitine that is believed to be more readily processed by the human body. In supplements with an enteric coating or time released action, this form is released in the upper intestine where it would naturally be released from food sources.
Studies have shown that carnitine found in food is more readily available for use by the human body than are carnitine supplements. However, the foods that contain high amounts of carnitine are mostly red meats. We are constantly reminded of the danger of including too much red meat in the diet. This is one reason that acetyl l-carnitine supplements are so important..
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