Should I Take Acetyl-L-Carnitine or L-Carnitine

Should I Take Acetyl-L-Carnitine or L-Carnitine

Sep 11, 2023

L-Carnitine is an amino acid that plays a role in energy production, by helping transport fatty acids into the mitochondria. Mitochondria are tiny powerhouses within cells that make energy. Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR) is a modified form of L-Carnitine.

L-Carnitine is naturally made in the body, in the liver and kidneys, it can also be obtained from our diet. Natural food sources include red meat, pork, poultry, fish, dairy products, avocado, tempeh, bread, asparagus, nuts and seeds.



Am I Deficient in L-Carnitine?

If you are deficient, it can potentially lead to several health issues. Some of the potential effects of deficiency include decreased energy levels, muscle weakness, cardiovascular issues, exercise intolerance, metabolic disorders, impaired brain function and high blood fatty acids.

Deficiency is rare and is often associated with certain medical conditions or genetic disorders, that affect the body's ability to produce or use L-Carnitine.


Benefits of L-Carnitine 

  • Energy Metabolism and Fat Use: It plays a vital role in transporting fatty acids into the mitochondria, where they are broken up for energy. Studies have shown that supplementation can enhance fat use during exercise and increase stamina in athletic and unathletic people.
  • Heart Health: Some research suggests that it may have positive effects on cardiovascular health. It may help improve blood vessel function, reduce inflammation and contribute to healthy cholesterol levels. It has been investigated for its potential benefits in individuals with heart conditions.
  • Exercise Performance and Muscle Recovery: Supplementation has been associated with improved exercise performance, reduced muscle damage and a faster recovery. It may help decrease muscle soreness and help repair tissue damage caused by exercise.
  • Weight Management: Studies have explored the potential role of L-Carnitine in weight management and fat loss. While some research suggests positive effects on body form and weight loss, results are mixed and may be influenced by factors such as dosage, duration and individual differences.
  • Cognitive Function (Brain Health): Some studies have indicated potential cognitive benefits. It may support brain health, particularly when combined with other nutrients and has been studied in conditions involving cognitive decline.
  • Insulin Sensitivity and Diabetes: Some research has examined the effects of L-Carnitine on insulin sensitivity and glucose breakdown. Studies suggest that it may improve insulin sensitivity in certain populations, such as people with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. 


Benefits of Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR)

  • Cognitive Function and Neurological Protection: ALCAR has been studied for its potential cognitive and nerve protective effects. Research suggests that supplementation may improve memory, attention and overall cognitive function. Studies have indicated that it may protect brain cells from oxidative stress and reduce age-related decline in brain function. It may also minimise symptoms associated with disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.
  • Mood and Emotional Well-Being: Some research suggests that ALCAR may have positive effects on mood and emotional well-being. It may reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress by influencing signalling in the brain.
  • Nerve Health and Function: ALCAR has been investigated for its potential benefits in maintaining nerve health and managing symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy is a condition where nerves are damaged, often causing symptoms like numbness, tingling, pain or weakness in the hands and feet. Studies suggest that ALCAR may help reduce pain and improve nerve function.
  • Energy Metabolism and Mitochondria Function: Acetyl-L-Carnitine plays a role in energy metabolism by transporting fatty acids into the mitochondria for energy production.
  • Exercise Performance and Muscle Recovery: Some studies have examined ALCAR's effects on exercise performance and muscle recovery. 
  • Anti-Ageing and Cell Health: ALCAR's antioxidant properties have led to research into its potential anti-ageing effects and benefits for maintaining cell health. It may help protect cells from oxidative damage and contribute to overall longevity.


What is the difference between L-Carnitine and Acetyl-L-Carnitine?


What is the difference between L-Carnitine and Acetyl-L-Carnitine?

The main difference between Acetyl-L-Carnitine and L-Carnitine is the presence of an acetyl group in ALCAR. The acetyl group is a chemical functional group composed of carbon, two hydrogens and an oxygen atom.

In ALCAR, the acetyl group is added to the amino acid L-Carnitine. This allows ALCAR to have improved absorption rate and gives it the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier more effectively, compared to L-Carnitine.

The acetyl group in ALCAR plays a crucial role in its unique properties and potential cognitive and nerve effects.


Should I take L-Carnitine or Acetyl-L-Carnitine?

Here's a breakdown of the key differences:

Cognitive and Neurological Benefits

While L-Carnitine plays a role in overall energy metabolism and may indirectly support brain health through its impact on energy production, it doesn't have the same direct cognitive and neurological effects as ALCAR.

ALCAR is specifically associated with cognitive benefits, including potential improvements in memory, learning, mood and overall brain function. Its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier allows it to have a more direct influence on brain health.

Energy Metabolism

Both play roles in energy metabolism by aiding in the transport of fatty acids into mitochondria for energy production. 

Physical Performance and Muscle Recovery

Both may contribute to improved exercise performance and muscle recovery by supporting energy metabolism and reducing oxidative stress.

Health Conditions and Applications

L-Carnitine is often used for general energy support, heart health and weight management.

ALCAR is often chosen for its potential cognitive and neurological benefits, such as mental clarity, focus and mood enhancement.


Recommended Daily Intake

The recommended dose of L-Carnitine can vary depending on individual factors such as age, weight, health status and the purpose for which you are taking it. 

Typically, L-Carnitine supplements come in various forms, such as tartrate, fumarate, and propionyl. The dosages can differ between these forms.

For general wellness and energy support, doses of L-Carnitine supplements might range from around 500mg-2,000mg per day, divided into two or three doses. Acetyl-L-Carnitine is often taken at doses of 600mg-2,500mg per day.

If you're considering L-Carnitine for a specific health condition or athletic performance, dosages might vary. For instance, some studies have used higher doses for conditions like certain heart-related issues or exercise performance improvement.

Remember, individual responses to supplements can vary, and it's important to start with a lower dose and gradually increase it while monitoring for any potential side effects. Always follow the recommendations provided by a qualified healthcare professional and ensure the supplement is appropriate for your specific use.


Interactions with Prescribed Medication

L-carnitine may interact with certain medications. It's important to consult with a healthcare professional before adding L-carnitine to your regimen, especially if you're taking other medications.

  • Thyroid Hormones: It may interfere with the absorption or effectiveness of thyroid hormones, particularly in people with hypothyroidism.
  • Anticoagulants/Antiplatelet Drugs: If you're taking blood-thinning medications like warfarin or aspirin, combining them may increase the risk of bleeding. Monitor your bleeding risk closely with your healthcare provider.
  • Acne Medications: There is some evidence that L-carnitine might reduce the side effects of medication used to treat severe acne. However, more research is needed in this area.
  • Diabetic Medications: It might have an impact on blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity. If you're taking medications for diabetes, monitor your blood sugar closely.
  • Seizure and Mood Disorder Medications: L-carnitine supplementation may affect medication used to treat seizures and mood disorders. Consult your doctor before combining these two.
  • Antibiotics: L-carnitine might reduce absorption.


Related Articles



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  3. L-Carnitine and heart disease - PubMed (
  4. L-Carnitine and Acetyl-L-Carnitine Roles and Neuroprotection in Developing Brain - PubMed (
  5. L-Carnitine - A Review of Benefits, Side Effects and Dosage (
  6. The 10 Best Nootropic Supplements to Boost Brain Power (
  7. L-Carnitine Benefits, Uses, Dosage, Foods, Side Effects - Dr. Axe (

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