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Acetyl-L-carnitine is not just for bodybuilders!

By Kim Crawford, M.D. Last updated: June 5, 2018


Acetyl-l-carnitine rocks it and not just in the body-building world!

For those of you who think of acetyl-l-carnitine as a muscle builder, you’re right! Did you know, for instance, it’s crucial for brain health too? Yes, it is true, and there is lot’s more. So, how about I fill you in on this great amino-acid variant from soup to nuts!

Where Acetyl-l-carnitine comes from and how it works:

L-carnitine is a constituent of protein synthesized from the amino acids lysine and methionine. L-carnitine is the foundation of a family of related compounds, including acetyl-L-carnitine, propionyl-L-carnitine, L-carnitine L-tartrate, and others. Carnitine (and L-carnitine) is a nutrient that helps the body break down fat and turn it into energy. It also increases the activity of certain nerve cells in the central nervous system.

Carnitine is an amino acid the body produces naturally in the liver and kidneys. The body stores it in the skeletal muscles, heart, brain and sperm. It also occurs in red meat, fish, poultry, and some dairy. Carnitine is a “conditionally essential” nutrient. Although our bodies can make it, they don’t produce enough. Carnitine shuttles fats from the watery outer region of cells into mitochondria, where both fats and glucose break down to make ATP, the chemical form of energy in the body.

Acetyl-L-carnitine can enter the brain, and the acetyl group helps form acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter which we’ll discuss in more detail in a bit. Acetyl-L-Carnitine is technically an acetylated version of  L-Carnitine and should be the ONLY form of L-carnitine used. Here’s why.

The Bad Side of L-Carnitine not and I repeat not Acetyl-l-carnitine:

In your stomach, L-carnitine converts into a substance called trimethylamine or TMA. TMA travels to your liver where a process turns it into trimethylamine-N-oxide or TMAO. Researchers report that TMAO leads to the buildup of plaque in your arteries where it can cause heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. No deleterious and, in fact, only good effects are found with acetyl-l-carnitine.

So, the message is to make darned sure you are not getting duped into buying l-carnitine instead of acetyl-l-carnitine. Additionally, the second important message is to always, always make sure you are getting pharmaceutical grade and not over-the-counter supplements. In fact, all of our Sitopharma supplements are guaranteed pharmaceutical grade and sold only via Physicians. If you do NOT get pharma-grade, at best you get GMO cornstarch fillers, and less or even a different product than what is on the label. At worst you are poisoned by carcinogens and heavy metals.

Acetyl-l-carnitine is amazing for energy

Acetyl-COA benefits Acetyl-L-Carnitine Benefits Both Mind and Body…body first! It plays a crucial role in energy production in the body. When your muscles have enough acetyl-L-carnitine, they can easily burn fat or protein for energy, not just glucose. This delays muscle fatigue and decreases the accumulation of lactic acid which is a byproduct of glucose metabolism. It also spares glycogen, the storage form of glucose.

Without enough L-Carnitine, the body cannot create enough ATP from stored fats, which may lead to lethargy or fatigue. Because the body uses ATP for every biological process, carnitine deficiency causes fatigue; sometimes quite severe.

Recall ATP is the energy made in the mitochondria which are the cells of respiration in each organ. Even in very old people, acetyl-L-carnitine can increase muscle mass and improve exercise performance. In one study of people 100 years or older, those taking 2,000 mg a day of acetyl-L-carnitine had almost five times more muscle mass, three times the reduction in fat, and big improvements in both physical and mental fatigue, compared to people taking a placebo. It is the go-to treatment for individuals who want supplements for energy. It is also one of the treatments for adrenal fatigue and one of the first supplements we add to boost mitochondrial function.

 Acetyl L-Carnitine increases strength and muscle mass

Acetyl-l-carnitine plays a critical role in energy production. It is also concentrated quite a bit throughout your skeletal muscles and heart. It shuttles long-chain fatty acids to (ATP) fuel-producing structures called mitochondria that convert the fat into energy. Acetyl-l-carnitine may improve sports performance. Many athletes across different sports do indeed feel acetyl-l-carnitine is quite effective in this regard.

Ultimately, it leads to higher energy levels and better fat metabolism. One of the ways Acetyl L-Carnitine helps is by reducing the levels of exercise damage. It reduces the presence of certain biomarkers that are indicative of tissue damage which occurs during the process of exercise. There are two ways this is said to happen. [bodybuilders_cta] It Increases Muscle Oxygen

Taking acetyl-l-carnitine before weight training increases the concentration of oxygen in your muscle tissues, according to a small, double-blind trial in the “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition” May 2010 issue. It reduces Exercise Stress Acetyl-l-carnitine reduces exercise-induced stress, according to a study in the “American Journal of Physiology Endocrinology and Metabolism.”

Clinical data has yielded promising results, but it’s premature to say bodybuilders benefit from acetyl-l-carnitine. Most of the clinical data that exists is from a small sample size and shows positive markers for exercise performance. Conversely, it doesn’t show whether this translates into actual performance gains or not. Although it does help “the bodybuilder.”

Acetyl-L-Carnitine for Body Building:

Many body builders have begun using acetyl-l-carnitine for a number of sports-related benefits. The simple explanation for this is Acetyl-L-Carnitine helps to burn stored fat. Not only that, but it forces additional fats and fatty acids into your cellular mitochondria, which allows for even more fat burning.

This can certainly benefit bodybuilders, especially as they are ‘cutting up’  near contest times. It also helps to increase energy production within the body, which can sometimes be running low during a period of intense dieting and exercising. With enough acetyl-l-carnitine supplementation, muscles can burn fat and protein for energy instead of just glucose.

The benefits of Acetyl-L-Carnitine for bodybuilders also extend to other areas. The increased burning of alternate fuels tends to delay muscle fatigue. It also helps to reduce the onset and accumulation of lactic acid (which is a by-product of glucose metabolism). It spares glycogen, which is the stored form of glucose. Furthermore, acetyl-l-carnitine MIGHT increase the production of testosterone, helping to boost muscle mass.

Acetyl-L-Carnitine helps with weight loss

Acetyl-l-carnitine often sells as a weight-loss tool. Some studies show that oral acetyl-l-carnitine can reduce fat mass, increase muscle mass and reduce fatigue; three things that may contribute to weight loss. Notably, one of the primary activities of this supplement is to help transport lipids and fatty acids into the cellular mitochondria.

As a result, this helps to stimulate the process of fat breakdown within the cells. Also, recall taking this supplement before a weight workout may improve muscle mass gains which then will increase your metabolic rate. So, for best results, most weight loss programs which offer acetyl-l-carnitine supplements (if they know what they are doing!) will offer them in conjunction with other fat burning and appetite suppressing supplements.

Acetyl-l-carnitine is amazing for brain health!

It is a supplement that increases BDNF BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) is an important neural protein that significantly influences brain health. BDNF influences a variety of functions: preventing death of existing brain cells, inducing the growth of new neurons and neural connections. Acetyl-L-Carnitine can increase levels of BDNF in several clinical studies.

Acetyl-L-Carnitine is a brain health supplement which is neuroprotective ALC, Acetyl-l-Carnitine, can protect the brain against stress and excitotoxic damage. The worst excitotoxins are sucralose, aspartame, and MSG as well as the artificial butter in movie or microwave popcorn. ALC is known for its protection of nerve cells and regenerative effect on them.

Acetyl-L-Carnitine is a brain health Supplement which speeds neural transmission As we age, the speed at which we think decreases. This is improved with acetyl-l-carnitine in conjunction with a few other important supplements which increase acetylcholine. All in all, ALC is one of the best brain supplements. Additionally, it’s one of the best supplements for memory and cognition.

Blood sugar and acetyl-l-carnitine:

Acetyl-l-Carnitine, which as you now know is important for burning fat and transporting fatty acids into the mitochondria has a positive effect on the regulation of blood sugar levels and can help lower them. In a study published in the periodical “Amino Acids”, a team of researchers investigated the effects of the ingestion of 3,000 mg of Acetyl-l-Carnitine on the blood sugar levels of thirty participants.

The participants received either acetyl-l-carnitine or a placebo over a period of 14 days. The ingestion of the Acetyl or the placebo occurred at mealtimes. A glucose tolerance test was then carried out on the participants; 75 grams of glucose were administered. Thirty minutes later, their blood sugar levels were measured. Those who had been given the acetyl had significantly lower blood sugar levels than those who had taken the placebo.

For cholesterol

A study published in a 2009 issue of the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” examined the effects of acetyl supplementation on oxidized low-density lipoprotein, or LDL cholesterol, in diabetics. The study used 81 people who had Type 2 diabetes and lasted about three months. The people were divided into two groups, and the results showed that those treated with acetyl displayed reduced oxidized LDL levels. Triglyceride levels decreased as well. As a result, this suggests acetyl-l-carnitine can help to manage cholesterol levels. However, more research is needed.

For protection against heart disease The heart stores much of the body’s carnitine. Of course, this makes sense since the heart relies on fatty acids as fuel to pump blood. Some studies show acetyl-L-carnitine supplements can improve muscle weakness and help the heart function more efficiently for those with a heart disease diagnosis.

The most promising research supports acetyl-l-carnitine supplements for patients with angina because it shows to help patients exercise without chest pain. Another study at Minneapolis VA Medical Center found that carnitine can improve exercise capacity in people with heart failure. Small studies suggest that those who take acetyl-l-carnitine supplements soon after a heart attack may be less likely to suffer another heart attack, die of heart disease, experience chest pains or develop heart failure.

In each case, however, other studies have found no positive effects. Obviously, there is a need for more research. Since all of these positive studies show improvement in those with heart conditions, researchers further conclude that young, healthy people experience no heart-healthy benefits.


Studies have shown that carnitine (in the form known as acetyl-l-carnitine) may help ease the discomfort of peripheral neuropathy. Specifically, this is a condition often triggered by diabetes or chemotherapy drugs that cause nerves in the feet and sometimes the hands to develop painful burning and stinging sensations. This may be related to amping up BDNF as some studies using acetyl-l-carnitine, measuring BDNF and pain from peripheral neuropathy in diabetics show both an increase in BDNF and a decrease in pain.

Possibly can improve sperm count and sexual health

While low sperm counts can be linked to low carnitine levels in men, several studies suggest that acetyl-l-carnitine supplementation may help increase count and mobility. A double-blind study of 86 infertile men found that two grams of acetyl- L-carnitine supplements per day for two months led to significant improvements in sperm quality.

On a semi-related note, an Italian study suggests acetyl-l-carnitine can also help improve the effectiveness of Viagra in men with diabetes who had not previously responded to the drug. I am not sure what the mechanism is here. To clarify, is it blood sugar reduction, testosterone increase or BDNF increase leading to improvement of the nerve function in the perineal area? The studies have had no comment. It is likely a combo-platter.

Other possible heath benefits:

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Doctors at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center in Chicago used either 3 grams of acetyl-l-carnitine carnitine or drugs to treat 28 people diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). The “acetyl” led to improvements in 18 markers of CFS severity and significant improvements in 12 of the markers. Conversely, the drug had no benefits. Fibromyalgia: Acetyl-L-carnitine may be of particular benefit to people with fibromyalgia.

To explain, this is a condition with characteristics of musculoskeletal pain one feels in a typical trigger point distribution. Italian doctors gave patients acetyl-L-carnitine orally (1,000—1,500 mg) daily over a period of 10 weeks, along with a single injection (500 mg). Subjects who received the treatment benefited from significant reductions in pain, compared with patients who were given placebos.

Correspondingly, this supplement is considered one of the many good fibromyalgia natural treatments. Chemotherapy: Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation cause extreme fatigue, but L-carnitine may boost energy levels in cancer patients. Doctors gave 2 grams of L-carnitine three times daily to women undergoing treatments for cancer, including breast, ovary, uterus, and stomach cancers.

After four weeks, the women who received acetyl-l-carnitine had reductions in fatigue, improved appetites, increased muscle mass, and better overall quality of life. Multiple Sclerosis: People with multiple sclerosis (MS) often suffer from chronic fatigue. A study found that taking 2 grams daily of acetyl-L-carnitine led to significant improvements in energy levels over a period of three months.

To sum up: Energy, weight, muscle mass, major brain health and more! So, why not include this supplement as a part of your daily regimen? Yes, you bet I take this; two 800 mg caps 2x per day. I use this along with my other mitochondrial supplements.

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