Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) is a synthetic, acetylated version of the naturally occurring nitrogenous substance L-carnitine. This is a substance that enhances oxidative phosphorylation (ATP production in the mitochondria) by supplying the mitochondria with certain fatty acids it needs.
Taking oral L-carnitine does not greatly increase the supply of carnitine to the brain cells (although it does to nonbrain cells) since it does not readily cross the blood-brain barrier; but by sticking an acetyl group on the L-carnitine molecule and forming ALC, we can cross this barrier and thus supply the brain with extra L-carnitine.
Animal studies have shown ALC prevents age-related lipid peroxidation of brain cells and age-associated reduction in nerve growth factor, a critical substance for maintaining normal functioning in the mammalian brain. Other studies show that ALC shields the brain from age-induced damage, including protecting NMDA receptors in the hippocampus against damage by free radicals.
Dozens of clinical trials, mostly in Europe, have been conducted with ALC to measure its effects on cognitive functions. For example, a 1992 study in Italy found that when seventeen healthy young people were given ALC or a placebo for thirty days, and were tested before and after for attention levels, reflexes, and hand-eye coordination, reflex speed was significantly improved, and errors and task completion time significantly reduced in those using ALC.
People with senile dementia and in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease also experience improvements in cognitive functions after administration of oral ALC. One example of this is a 1992 study out of the Department of Nutrition at Georgia State University which found that people with Alzheimer’s disease who received 2,000 milligrams of ALC each day for a year experienced a significant reduction in the progress of their disease compared to those not taking ALC supplements.
Health and Wellness
Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) is in a league of its own both as a nootropic compound and as a neuroprotector. The dosages used in the clinical trials of humans which support the use of ALC for improvement of cognitive functioning range from 500 to 2,000 milligrams per day.
The reason for these relatively high dosages is to ensure that the ALC maintains its “acetyl” group that makes it more fat soluble, thus allowing it to leave the bloodstream and enter into the brain.
Almost all the ALC capsules you can order come in either 250-or 500-milligram capsules. Whichever dose of ALC you select to start with should be split up into three separate doses throughout the day, and administered with food each time.
In other words, should you choose to take 1,500 milligrams daily (a popular dosage), you should take 500 milligrams three times a day, with food.
This seems to be a very safe dosage; the only side effects that on rare occasions have been reported are vertigo (dizziness), abdominal discomfort, restlessness, and hyperactivity. If you experience any of these symptom using ALC, cut back your dosage until the symptoms disappear.
Because it has been proven so effective for so many people, ALC is one of the most expensive substances, costing around fifty to sixty dollars a month to use, at dosages that are effective. I personally hope that this important and effective substance can be supplied at a more reasonable cost in the near future.