WHAT IT IS Acetyl-L-carnitine is a molecule found naturally throughout the body that helps to transport fats into the mitochondria, the tiny energy “factories” in all living cells. ALC is closely related to carnitine, a natural amino acid that is also available as a nutritional supplement (ALC is considered the more potent of the two); it is also related to choline (discussed on next page), in both chemical structure and clinical effects.
REPORTED EFFECTS Take ALC to enhance cognition and stimulate creativity–it is thought to improve communication between the right and left hemispheres of the brain, thereby promoting intuitive and balanced thinking.
HOW IT WORKS Though the action of ALC in the brain is not yet fully understood, some researchers believe it works by helping to facilitate the activity of important neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine and dopamine in the brain.
THE EVIDENCE Clinical studies with ALC have shown it to be effective in restoring memory and cognitive ability in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, and a few recent studies even suggest that ALC may produce a similar effect in healthy adults. In a placebo-controlled clinical study on 279 patients suffering from mild to moderate cognitive decline, those taking ALC significantly improved their scores on cognitive function tests, while those taking the placebo showed no improvement. And in a 1992 study in Italy on a group of 8 males and 9 females, ages 22 to 27, ALC was shown to improve reflex speed and increase accuracy in playing a video game.
CAVEATS Pregnant and lactating women are advised not to take ALC, except under a doctor’s supervision.
FOR OPTIMAL BENEFIT ALC may be most effective when taken with phosphatidyl serine, according to Khalsa. The two substances work together to aid production of acetylcholine in the brain.
DIETARY SOURCES Dietary sources of ALC include milk, fish, meat, and other animal foods high in protein; however, it is difficult to obtain therapeutic amounts from the diet alone.
WHERE TO FIND IT ALC and its closely-related neighbor carnitine are available over the counter at most health foods stores. ALC usually comes in 500 mg tablets, and a normal recommended dose is up to 1000 mg per day. The only drawback to ALC is its expense–a one-month supply may cost up to $95. Take daily, but take in cycles, a few months on, a few months off.
COPYRIGHT 1998 Weider Publications
COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group