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Acetyl-L Carnitine Benefits & Side Effects

by Travis Hlavka

Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR) is just one form of carnitine. Carnitines transport fatty acids to mitochondria to be used as fuel. They also dispose of the waste products of this process.  (Simply put…. It’s an amino acid that helps you produce energy.)

Carnitine acts as an antioxidant and has been proposed as a treatment for many conditions.  It’s important for many processes within the body, including heart and brain function, and muscle movement.

ALCAR is claimed to be more bio-available than the non acetylated L-Carnitine.

Natural sources include:

  • Red meat (particularly lamb)
  • Dairy products
  • Fish
  • PoultryTempeh
  • Wheat
  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Peanut butter

Acetyl-L Carnitine Dosing

The recommended dose, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, is between 1 and 3 g per day.  I currently take 2-3g/day.  2g in my homemade preworkout drink.

Acetyl-L Carnitine Benefits

ALCAR has been studied extensively and found to have significant anti-aging and cognitive benefits. Several clinical trials suggest it can be effective in improving memory, mood and response to stress.  ALCAR is a cognitive enhancer and neuroprotective agent that protects against a wide range of age-related degenerative changes in the brain and nervous system.

I take ALCAR because of the antioxidant benefits and effects on stress and memory.  I haven’t found any concrete evidence that it improves athletic performance but I figure if it helps my mood and stress and is an antioxidant, it’s a good addition for me.

Acetyl-L Carnitine Side Effects

Acetyl-L-carnitine seems to be safe in general. Clinical trials have included children, with no “marked” side effects.

However in some instances, it has been reported to cause vomiting, an upset stomach, nausea, increased appetite, and restlessness. It can cause a “fishy” odor of the urine, breath, and sweat.

Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of acetyl-L-carnitine during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Under-active thyroid (hypothyroidism): There is some concern that acetyl-L-carnitine might interfere with thyroid hormone. Don’t use acetyl-L-carnitine if you have an under-active thyroid.

Seizures: An increase in the number or seriousness of seizures has been reported in people with a history of seizures who have used L-carnitine by mouth or by IV (intravenously). Since L-carnitine is related to acetyl-L-carnitine, there is a concern that this might also occur with acetyl-L-carnitine. If you have ever had a seizure, don’t take acetyl-L-carnitine.

Other Names:  Acetil-L-Carnitina, Acetyl Carnitine, Acétyl Carnitine, Acetyl L-Carnitine, Acétyl-L-Carnitine, Acetyl-L-Carnitine Arginate Dihydrochloride, Acetyl-L-Carnitine Arginate HCl, Acétyl-L-Carnitine Arginate HCl, Acetyl-L-Carnitine HCl, Acétyl-L-Carnitine HCl, Acetyl L-Carnitine Hydrochloride, Acetyl Carnitine, Acétyl-Carnitine, Acetyl-Levocarnitine, Acétyl-Lévocarnitine, ALC, Alcar, Carnitine Acetyl Ester, Dihydrochlorure d’Acétyl-L-Carnitine Arginate, Gamma-Trimethyl-Beta-Acetylbutyrobetaine, L-Acetylcarnitine, L-Acétylcarnitine, Levacecarnine, N-Acetyl-Carnitine, N-Acétyl-Carnitine, N-Acetyl-L-Carnitine, N-Acétyl-L-Carnitine, ST-200, Vitamin B(t) Acetate, 2-(acetyloxy)-3-carboxy-N,N,N-trimethyl-1-propanaminium inner salt, (3-carboxy-2-hydroxy-propyl)trimethylammonium hydroxide inner salt acetate.

References:
WebMD – L-Carnitine
Wikipedia – Acytelcarnitine
University of Maryland Medical Center – L-Carnitine
TLC – Acetyl L-Carnitine
Livestrong – L-Carnitine

Travis Hlavka (9 Posts)

I may act like a 12yr old a lot of the time, but that's because I have a genetic defect that will not allow me grow up. HOWEVER, I do take strength training and fitness very seriously and I love using what I know to help others reach their fitness goals and avoid the bazillion mistakes I've made in my 25+ yrs of training. Since I don't know everything, I never stop learning. Note: I am no longer a "certified" trainer, but I truly understand more about fitness and health now than I ever did with that official piece of paper.

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