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You may have heard about this potent antioxidant lately—it’s getting some press coverage as a hardworking energy producer. If you’re wondering what it is and why you want it, read on!
What is it?
Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALCAR) is an amino acid that is produced naturally in the body. It works as an antioxidant, fighting against oxidative stress. It helps promote production of glutathione, another powerful antioxidant. The liver and kidneys usually use animal protein to create ALCAR, but they can also use other amino acids, such as lysine and methionine. Meats and cheeses are the largest sources of ALCAR in the diet, with smaller amounts coming from fruits and vegetables (e.g. avocados, asparagus).
How Does it Help?
ALCAR transports fatty acids across the membrane of the mitochondria (the cell’s powerhouse) to create ATP, which the body uses for energy. This helps all cells, including brain cells, and all muscles, including the heart, to produce energy.
In the brain, ALCAR also helps to improve blood flow, reduces oxidative stress in brain cells, may help to remove toxins from the brain, helps improve mood, and plays a role in the production of neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine, noradrenaline, and serotonin, which help brain function. Acetylcholine helps memory, learning, mood, and many other cognitive and executive functions such as computation, analysis, perception, concentration, and synaptic flexibility.
How Does it Work?
ALCAR is the acetylated form of L-carnitine, an amino acid, which means that ALCAR has an acetyl molecule attached. Unlike unacetylated L-carnitine, ALCAR is more readily absorbed in the gut and can cross the blood-brain barrier where it can interact with nerves in the brain. It can also donate its acetyl molecule to brain cells, helping to form the neurotransmitters that are needed for healthy brain activity. When it loses its acetyl molecule, it converts into L-carnitine, which is also naturally produced in the body. As part of normal cell metabolism, L-carnitine can be converted back into ALCAR, and this cycle can continue, providing helpful effects throughout the body.
ALCAR’s amazing energy production is enhanced even further when combined with Alpha Lipoic Acid. When these two powerhouses work together in your cells’ mitochondria, good things happen! Together, they help increase mitochondrial production, support healthy aging at the cellular level, and protect against oxidative stress.