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Acetyl-L-Carnitine

Also indexed as: Acetylcarnitine, ALC, L-Acetyl-Carnitine


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Acetyl-L-carnitine is similar in form to the amino acid L-carnitine and also has some similar functions, such as being involved in the metabolism of food into energy. The acetyl group that is part of acetyl-L-carnitine contributes to the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is required for mental function.

Where is it found?

Acetyl-L-carnitine is a molecule that occurs naturally in the brain, liver, and kidney. It is also available as a dietary supplement.

Acetyl-L-carnitine has been used in connection with the following conditions (refer to the individual health concern for complete information):

Science Ratings Health Concerns
3Stars

Age-related cognitive decline

2Stars

Alzheimer’s disease

Cerebellar ataxia, degenerative

Depression (for elderly people)

Down’s syndrome

Erectile dysfunction (in combination with L-carnitine)

Macular degeneration (in combination with fish oil and coenzyme Q10)

Type 1 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes

1Star

Amenorrhea

Male infertility

Peripheral neuropathy

3Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support and/or minimal health benefit.

Who is likely to be deficient?

Acetyl-L-carnitine levels may decrease with advancing age. However, because it is not an essential nutrient, true deficiencies do not occur.

How much is usually taken?

Most research involving acetyl-L-carnitine has used 500 mg three times per day, though some research has used double this amount.1

Are there any side effects or interactions?

Side effects from taking acetyl-L-carnitine are uncommon, although skin rash, increased appetite, nausea, vomiting, agitation, and body odor have been reported in people taking acetyl-L-carnitine.2 3

Are there any drug interactions?
Certain medicines may interact with acetyl-L-carnitine. Refer to drug interactions for a list of those medicines.

References:

1. No authors listed. Acetyl-L-Carnitine. Altern Med Rev 1999;4:438–41 [review].

2. Thal LJ, Carta A, Clarke WR, et al. A 1-year multicenter placebo-controlled study of acetyl-L-carnitine in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Neurology 1996;47:705–11.

3. Rai G, Wright G, Scott L, et al. Double-blind, placebo controlled study of acetyl-L-carnitine in patients with Alzheimer’s dementia. Curr Med Res Opin 1990;11:638–47.

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