The importance of eating a diet rich in high-quality protein cannot be understated. Amino acids, the molecular building blocks that make up proteins, carry out many vital functions in the human body. Without an ongoing and sufficient supply of the nine “essential” amino acids your body needs to manufacture proteins, your cells and tissues will literally start to break down, putting you at risk for serious health problems.
However, what many people don’t realize is that as you age, your body loses the ability to manufacture a certain key amino acid, called L-carnitine, which plays a crucial role in energy production by helping to transform fat into energy. So even if you eat a protein-rich diet, you could very well be suffering from an L-carnitine deficiency, which can cause symptoms ranging from fatigue and weakness to heart trouble and cognitive problems. That’s where the supplemental form of L-carnitine, called acetyl-L-carnitine, can help.
Recently, acetyl-L-carnitine became the topic of some deceptive media headlines when researchers suggested that L-carnitine, which is abundant in red meat, could be the reason that red meat consumption is linked to heart disease — rather than saturated fats or inflammation-causing toxins. Unfortunately, as seems to happen all too often, the media’s effort to generate sensational “news” has created public confusion and undermined decades of gold-standard scientific research on the health benefits of a safe, natural and inexpensive over-the-counter supplement.
The Benefits of Acetyl-L-Carnitine
- Better cardiovascular function
- More balanced cholesterol
- Healthier blood pressure
- More energy throughout the day
- Improved cognitive function
- Better mood balance
- Healthier sex drive
- More strength and stamina
New Mayo Clinic Study: Acetyl-L-Carnitine Helps Your Heart
Volumes of research have shown that acetyl-L-carnitine is a major player when it comes to heart health protection. Since the heart muscle uses fat as its primary energy source, acetyl-L-carnitine helps to turn fat into energy so it can maintain its normal function.
Ironically, just days after the misleading headlines on acetyl-L-carnitine hit newsstands, Mayo Clinic researchers published a groundbreaking meta-analysis of the research on acetyl-L-carnitine and heart health that, sadly, received considerably less attention. The researchers found that acetyl-L-carnitine supplementation was associated with a 27% reduction in all-cause mortality, a 65% reduction in ventricular arrhythmias and a 40% reduction in angina symptoms in patients who had experienced a heart attack.
And if that weren’t enough, the researchers described acetyl-L-carnitine as an inexpensive therapy with an “excellent safety profile.” They also said that further study is warranted, but that unfortunately, “a large trial may never be performed because L-carnitine is an over-the-counter supplement available to the public, which decreases the potential revenue compared with a synthesized [pharmaceutical] product.” I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to wait for Big Pharma to sponsor a clinical trial on acetyl-L-carnitine in an attempt to turn it into a synthetic, patentable drug.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine Helps Keep You on Your “A” Game
Elite athletes have used acetyl-L-carnitine for decades as a performance-enhancing supplement, because it’s extremely safe and it really works. It helps athletes perform longer at high intensity levels and to recover more quickly. Research shows that acetyl-L-carnitine also helps those of us who aren’t training for the Olympics. That includes older people facing declines in muscle strength, endurance and cognitive function.
When your muscles have enough acetyl-L-carnitine, they can easily burn fat or protein for energy, not just glucose. This delays muscle fatigue, decreases the accumulation of lactic acid, a byproduct of glucose metabolism, and spares glycogen, the storage form of glucose. Acetyl-L-carnitine also increases production of testosterone, which can boost muscle and bone mass, sex drive and mood — in both men and women.
Even in elderly people, acetyl-L-carnitine has been shown to increase muscle mass and improve exercise performance. In one study of people 100 years or older, those taking 2,000 mg a day 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. Imagine what it could do for someone a few years younger.
The acetyl component of acetyl-L-carnitine has another function — the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter vital to healthy brain and nervous system function. Clinical studies have shown that acetyl-L-carnitine supplementation may help in reducing the mental decline due to aging and reduced blood flow to the brain.[5,6]
How to Choose the Right Acetyl-L-Carnitine Supplement
If you’re not taking an acetyl-L-carnitine supplement now, I’m going to make it easy for you to get started. Or if you are taking one, I want to make sure you’re taking the RIGHT one.
Here’s a quick summary of what to look for in a good supplement:
Take the “acetyl” form. Although your body can convert some of the L-carnitine found in food and some supplements to acetyl-L-carnitine, taking the acetyl-L-carnitine version provides much more of the acetyl form, making it a lot easier for your body to use and dramatically improving its effectiveness.
Look for a supplement made with Carnipure®. To my knowledge, the brand Carnipure® is the only form of acetyl-L-carnitine produced using a unique fermentation-based process that mimics the way acetyl-L-carnitine is produced in nature. Most supplements use cheap generic knock-offs that simply don’t work.
Make sure it provides the most effective dose. Any acetyl-L-carnitine supplement should provide 500 mg per daily dose, and the best supplements can provide this to you in a one-a-day formula. This is the daily dosage consistently shown in the research to provide the greatest benefits.
Don’t overpay. Acetyl-L-carnitine supplements made with Carnipure®should never cost more than $20 for a one month supply. Some companies hype up their “quality” and charge more than double this. Don’t fall for it.
If you’re looking for a high quality acetyl-L-carnitine supplement that meets all of these criteria, click here.
1. Nat Med. 2013 Apr 7. doi: 10.1038/nm.3145. [Epub ahead of print]
2. Lipids. Jun 2000;35(6):627-632.
3. Mayo Clin Proc. Jun 2013;88(6):1-8. doi:10.1016/j.mayocp.2013.02.007. [Epub ahead of print]
4. AJCN. 2011;94(2):601-610.
5. Int J Tissue React. 1999;21(1):1-6.
6. Neuropharmacol (England). 1999;38(3):383-94.