What is ALCAR?
Acetyl L-CARnitine (ALCAR) is a modified version of Carnitine, the popular athletic supplement. It is also considered as a nootropic drug with multiple cognitive benefits. Being an amino acid, the compound is helpful in conversion of fat to energy, so its supplements are used for weight loss and for increase in physical as well as mental energy. The compound is made within body by liver and kidneys, and is also found in red meat (especially mutton).
How does ALCAR work?
ALCAR is absorbed to the bloodstream after oral intake of the supplement. It is capable of crossing blood-brain barrier to enter the brain. Within the brain, the compound acts as a precursor to acetylcholine, the most important neurotransmitter. The compound joins hand with free choline to synthesize acetylcholine, so its combination with choline-rich food or other cholinergic supplements may be greatly helpful. The compound acts as a neuro-protector as it possesses anti-oxidant properties. The compound is capable of protecting nerve cells when they are under threat due to energy deficiency, aging, alcohol abuse, or oxidative stress.
Studies on ALCAR
In some animal as well as human studies, it has been shown that use of ALCAR supplements can be helpful in overcoming the cognitive decline due to aging, Alzheimer’s disorder, or any other reason. It has been shown by a study that ALCAR can have potential benefits for neuropathic pain. The acetylation of L-Carnitine compound is the key behind the cognitive benefits. As described above, this acetyl component is helpful in choline to acetylcholine conversion.
Effects of ALCAR
This acetylcholine is a prime neurotransmitter, which helps in improving memory, learning, recall and attention etc. On the other hand, benefits associated with L-Carnitine are energy production by utilizing fats for energy productions. This can indirectly benefit in cognition as well, by providing extra mental energy.
However, it is assumed that ALCAR dietary supplement may only be beneficial for those people who are deficient in Carnitine. As meat is main source of Carnitine, so it is usually found that vegetarians might be lack of Carnitine, and they are usually advised to take ALCAR supplements. Moreover, synthesis of Carnitine is reported to be slower in newborns, and they get supply from the mother’s breast milk though most of the babies overcome their blood Carnitine level. It is one of the reasons why lactating women should eat nutrient rich foods, including meat.
Recommended Dosage / Usage Instructions
Recommendations vary, however most sources suggest 500-700 mg once a day, preferably in the early part of the day and to consume higher amounts only for a short period of time.
There are very trivial side effects with ALCAR consumption in higher doses, like headache. For normal doses, the drug is considered safe. There might be gastric disorders, like nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps etc.
You should consult a healthcare physician prior to taking ALCAR, because its use as well as dosage is linked to a number of factors including your current medical condition (e.g., body’s Carnitine level, dietary habits etc). Consult a specialist if you are patient of gastro-esophageal reflux disease, or if you are pregnant or lactating. Pregnant and lactating women should consult a physician prior to taking ALCAR.