Acetylcarnitine (ALCAR) is a type of ammonium compound that is synthesized from amino acids in both plants and animals. Acetylcarnitine is used as a dietary supplement by many individuals for a variety of reasons, ranging from improving mental function to increasing fertility in men. There have not been enough studies to determine any long-term effects of these supplements, though, so those wanting to try it should consult a physician.
Acetylcarnitine is produced during strenuous activity by a combination of chemicals. After the ALCAR is transported out of the mitochondria, it is broken back down into the original two compounds. One of these components, L-carnitine, is used in assisting the mitochondria in using fatty acids for energy production. This enables acetylcarnitine supplements to often boost the body's energy production.
ALCAR is also used as a powerful antioxidant in the brain. The blood-brain barrier prevents many compounds from entering the brain, but acetylcarnitine can pass through this barrier and help eliminate free radicals within the brain. These free radicals damage the cells in the brain. This is part of the reason why ALCAR can be used to help to prevent the deterioration of brain cells.
Acetylcarnitine is thought to contribute to the production and release of acetylcholine within the brain. Acetylcholine is one of the primary neurotransmitters within the brain and the rest of the central nervous system (CNS). This neurotransmitter is thought to be directly related to the brain's ability to create and store memories. This has been shown to provide a marked increase in the functioning of older brains.
A man's fertility can also be improved with the use of an ALCAR supplement. One of the primary factors in determining how fertile a man's sperm are is the ability of the sperm to move. This is referred to as sperm motility. ALCAR has been shown to have the effect of increasing the sperm motility, increasing the fertility of the man.
While acetylcarnitine is a significant part of the body's normal functions and its potential benefits seem to be profound, the use of these supplements has not received much testing in humans. The long-term health effects of acetylcarnitine supplements in humans is unknown as a result. Many individuals who take these supplements report a marked increase in energy and memory that may be associated to their intake of these supplements. Anyone seeking to try these supplements should consult with their physician before starting. Individuals taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) should not take this type of supplement, due to a potentially dangerous increase in the levels of acetylcholine within the brain.