Volume 1: Issue #13
Add Years to Your Life and
Support Your Memory, Too
Taken by bodybuilders as a way to sculpt the perfect body and by dieters as an easy method to lose weight, there’s actually scant proof that this supplement can do either one.
But while the research evidence for these claims may be lacking, there’s a mother lode of evidence that acetyl l carnitine (ALC) is very effective when it comes to boosting cognitive health and treating nervous system disorders.
In fact, it was approved in Europe to treat neurological diseases back in the 1980s, although it only became legally available to Americans in 1994.
Today, many people take this supplement not just to improve cognitive health but as a way to ward off the effects of aging. Here’s what this simple, safe nutrient can do for you. . .
Maintains youthful energy
There was little interest in ALC in the US until it came to the attention of Dr. Bruce Ames, emeritus professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of California, and one of America’s leading scientists.
He was looking at strategies to reverse the effects of aging. A key area of his research was the mitochondria. These are the energy producing factories of the cell, often called the “cellular batteries”.
As we age, mitochondria decay and this has been linked to degenerative diseases and neurological decline. Keeping the mitochondria youthful helps prevent disease and add years to life.
Dr. Ames fed acetyl l-carnitine to old rats and tested four functions of the mitochondria that are known to decline with age. The result was that three of the four functions became more like those found in young rats.
Dr. Ames is now 87 years young and still working. Needless to say he takes ALC every day as well as other vitamins, minerals and nutritional factors to keep his mind active and stave off the effects of aging.
Protects and promotes brain health
ALC protects and promotes brain health in a number of ways.
- As an antioxidant, it fights free radicals
- Increases the production of energy in the mitochondria and improves mitochondrial function
- Chelates iron. ALC is able to bind with iron to render it non-toxic. Excess accumulation of iron promotes free radicals and leads to accelerated mitochondrial decay and neurodegenerative disorders. It has also been associated with heart disease
- Boosts glutathione levels. The brain’s master antioxidant and detoxifier
- Increases CoQ10. A potent neuroprotective scavenger of free radicals in fat and mitochondrial membranes. Acetyl l-carnitine increases mitochondrial concentrations
- Reduces lipofuscin, the ‘wear and tear’ yellow/brown pigment found in nerve fibers and in many other parts of the body
- Stabilizes membranes and reduces the loss of brain receptors. Loss of receptors is a hallmark of brain aging and particularly severe in Alzheimer’s.
Benefits energy and cognition in human studies
A number of human studies support the concept that acetyl l-carnitine benefits energy and cognition. Please be aware that such studies are not FDA-certified “proof,” but they’re enough for me personally until more evidence comes along.
In 30 patients with chronic fatigue, six months of supplementation with ALC reduced mental fatigue and improved attention and concentration. Two weeks after the supplements were stopped, over half the patients reported their fatigue had gotten worse.
In 96 people aged 71 to 88 and suffering with fatigue, taking ALC reduced physical and mental fatigue and improved cognitive status.
In 481 older people with mild mental cognitive impairment (MCI) there was significant improvement in cognition and memory after 90 days.
60 patients past the age of 65 and suffering from mild mental impairment took either ALC or a placebo for three months. Only the ALC group saw improvements in behavior, memory, attention and verbal fluency.
A review of 21 trials comparing ALC with a placebo in patients with mild cognitive impairment or mild Alzheimer’s found significant efficacy for those taking the active supplement.
While ALC may be hyped for conditions like weight loss for which there is a lack of evidence, there’s enough evidence to convince me it’s an important supplement in protecting the brain, preserving cognition and delaying the effects of aging.
We might not all want to work into our late 80s like Professor Ames, but acetyl l-carnitine is one supplement that probably increases our chance of doing so if we choose.
Green Valley Natural Solutions offers its own form of ALC, and you can click here to learn more. As always, food supplements are not intended to cure, treat, prevent or diagnose any disease, and you should seek a professional’s help for any health condition that you’re concerned about.