Acetyl-L-carnitine is the biologically active form of the amino acid L-carnitine. It can cross the blood-brain barrier, making it ideal for promoting neurological health. Acetyl-L-carnitine has antioxidant activity and is important for heart and brain function. It also produces energy at the cellular level.
Carnitine and its derivatives exist in a carnitine “pool” in the body. Cellular enzymes and transporters rapidly convert the carnitine to the required form and transport it to the tissues. Carnitine and its derivatives play a key role in fat, carbohydrate, and protein metabolism and energy production and are critical components for mitochondrial metabolism. Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) is the most important derivative of carnitine and occurs naturally in the body. Because ALC is considered to have greater bioavailability and is therefore more able to cross neurological membranes, it is the preferred form to take for promoting neurological health.
The levels of carnitine and its derivatives are critical to normal biological functioning. Carnitine is present in the diet in red meats and dairy products, and humans can make carnitine from the amino acids lysine and methionine. However, carnitine deficiency can occur with certain conditions.
ALC has been studied in various conditions including neurological and cognitive disorders, and cardiovascular disease, as well as with respect to the fatigue and pain associated with conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome and sciatica.