L-Carnitine & Acetyl L-Carnitine
Age Associated Memory Impairment
L-carnitine (LC) and acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) occur naturally in the body where they transport fats across a membrane into the energy burning mitochondria of each cell. Acetyl-L-carnitine and carnitine are close relatives; they are naturally occurring nonessential amino acids. They play a critical role in maintaining youthful cellular energy, metabolism and blood flow. Since brain aging is a result of diminished brain cell metabolism and reduced cerebral circulation, the potential role of carnitine in protecting neurologic function is clear.
A Cognitive Enhancer
Researchers noted that elderly heart patients treated with carnitine demonstrated improved mood. This led to many studies on the effects of acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) on cognitive disorders. ALC appears promising as a cognition enhancer for normal, healthy people, as well as a form of treatment for age-associated memory impairment and even Alzheimer's disease.
Recently, Italian researchers published a landmark study that confirmed that ALC improved performance in young, healthy people. The research was conducted on 17 subjects who were given either 1,500 mg of acetyl-L-carnitine a day or a placebo for 30 days. They were tested before and after treatment, using video game style devices designed to evaluate attention levels and hand-eye coordination and reflexes. The reflex speed was markedly increased among those who received ALC, and their error rate and task completion times were reduced three to four times, compared to the control subjects. Those receiving ALC showed no adverse effects.
For the Elderly
Two other Italian researchers evaluated 236 mentally-impaired elderly people being treated with ALC in a large multicenter study. The treatment lasted more than five months, with subjects given either a placebo or 1,500 mg of ALC a day. All were tested for cognitive function, emotional state, and social behavior. Those who took ALC improved significantly, especially in memory, constructional thinking, and emotional state. In several other studies, especially one at the University of Modena in Italy, the effects of ALC supplementation persisted long after the treatment ended.
Researchers in Italy studied the effects of acetyl-L-carnitine on 60 depressed people between the ages of 60 and 80. They were given either 3,000 mg of acetyl-L-carnitine or a placebo for 60 days and were tested repeatedly for depression and general well-being. ALC reduced the severity of depression and improved the quality of life significantly.
Researchers also found that acetyl-L-carnitine helped with sleep disturbances, which can disrupt the circadian rhythm (our biological "clock" or natural sleep/wake cycle) which can result in clinical depression. Circadian disturbances also can have a profound adverse effect on memory. Acetyl-L-carnitine appears to reduce sleep requirements while improving the quality of sleep.
Many other studies have shown similar results with people with senile depression who were given acetyl-L-carnitine in doses ranging from 500 to 3,000 mg a day.
Studies have also shown significant improvement and effectiveness of acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) on people with senility.
ALC is an effective treatment for mental impairment resulting from senile dementia. A study with 60 elderly patients concluded that subjects given 2,000 mg of ALC a day showed statistically significant improvement in the behavioral scales, memory tests, the attention barrage test, and a verbal fluency test.
A study in Neuroscience Letters reported that ALC prevented the neurologic impairment that normally occurs in oxygen-deprived neonatal rats. The ALC treated rats did not suffer the memory deficits seen in the control group. The researchers suggested that ALC should be given to children who suffer from oxygen deprivation in the womb.
Acetyl-L-carnitine is regarded by scientists and pharmaceutical companies as one of the most promising substances for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.
Several studies showed ALC may retard deterioration in some cognitive areas in patients with Alzheimer's disease, significantly reduce the progression of the disease, or have a beneficial effect on some clinical features of Alzheimer-type dementia, particularly those related to short-term memory. The only side effect noted was nausea in a few patients, particularly when acetyl-L-carnitine was taken on an empty stomach. Several other studies have confirmed that it improves memory, attention span, and alertness in Alzheimer's patients.
I recently came across the book Smart Drugs II by Ward Dean, M.D., and then met him at a convention and attended his lecture. I was glad to learn more information on acetyl-L-carnitine, as he is an expert in the field. Dr. Dean recommends a dose of 1,000 to 2,000 mg a day in two divided doses. You can find this product at your nutrition store in a 500 mg potency. This product is not recommended for those who are pregnant, lactating, or who are hypersensitive to acetyl-L-carnitine.
- Dean, Ward, M.D., John Morgenthaler, and Steven Fowkes. Smart Drugs II: The Next Generation. Menlo Park, CA: Smart Publications, 1993, pages 91–93.
- Cipolli, C. and G. Chiari. "Effetti della L-acetilcarnitina sul deterioramento mentale dell'anziano: primi risultati (Effects of L-acetylcarnitine on mental deterioration in the aged: initial results) (6 Suppl)" Clinica Terapeutica 132 (March 1990): 479–510, 31. As found in Smart Drugs II.
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- Neuroscience Letters 223 (1997): 3.
- Bowman, B. A. B. "Acetyl-carnitine and Alzheimer's disease." Nutrition Review USA 50.5 (1992): 142–144.
- Rai, M. G., G. Wright, L. Scot, B. Beston, J. Rest, and A. N. Exton-Smith. "Double-blind, placebo controlled study of acetyl-L-carnitine in patients with Alzheimer's dementia." Current Medical Research and Opinion 11.10 (1990): 638–647.
- Sano, M., K. Bell, L. Cote, G. Dooneief, A. Lawton, L. Legler, K. Marder, A. Naini, Y. Stern, and R. Mayeux. "Double-blind parallel design pilot study of acetyl levocarnitine in patients with Alzheimer's disease." Archives of Neurology (United States) 49.11 (November 1992): 1137–1141.
- Cabrero Lahuerta, M. C. and M. Crotes Blanco. "Current treatment of Alzheimer's disease (Aproximacion al estado actual del tratamiento de la demencia senil tipo Alzheimer)." Ciencias Medica (Spain) 9.3 (1992): 82–87.
- Cazzato, G., L. Bonfigli, M. Pasqua, and F. Iaiza. "Long-term treatment with acetyl-L-carnitine in patients suffering from dementia of the Alzheimer's type (Trattamento a lungo termine con L-acetilcarnitina in pazienti affetti da demenza di Alzheimer)." Neurol Psichiatr Sci Um (Italy) 10.2 (1990): 201–215.
- Dean, Ward, M.D., John Morgenthaler, and Steven Fowkes. Smart Drugs II: The Next Generation. Menlo Park, CA: Smart Publications, 1993.
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