Acetyl L-Carnitine vs L-Carnitine: Which one is superior?

February 01, 2016 | NEXGEN Nutrition

Carnitine either as acetyl-L-carnitine or L-carnitine form plays the most significant role in the body by helping to transport fat, predominantly long-chain fatty acids, into the mitochondria of cells. Once there, they are used as fuel to generate energy in the form of ATP. This is one reason why acetyl-L-carnitine and L-carnitine are used in weight loss or in exercise regimens as a fat burning or energy boosting agent. They also lift up levels of certain enzymes required to metabolize sugars and other carbohydrates. In addition, a supplement of either acetyl-L-carnitine or L-carnitine improves stamina when used with exercise, while also reducing production of lactic acid, which causes that burning feeling in the muscles.

However, many people are often confused with the different forms of carnitine. Thus, it’s imperative to be acquainted with the difference between L-carnitine and acetyl-L-carnitine in terms of supplements.

In general, both acetyl L-carnitine and L-carnitine are derivative of the amino acid. Structurally, the difference between acetyl-L-carnitine and L-carnitine (or ALCAR and LCAR) is that ALCAR is a popular supplemental form of LCAR with a bonus acetyl group. Even though both are the different form of the same amino acid with a small structural difference, but it produces a considerable difference in the biochemical properties and consequently, differ in terms of their mechanism of action, as well as their specific benefits.

When it comes to the bioavailability, the supplemental form of acetyl-L-carnitine is better than L-carnitine because of having the exclusive ability to absorb into the bloodstream more quickly and to cross the blood brain barrier (BBB). Therefore, it improves the mental energy levels and may also make available substrate (acetyl group) in support of acetylcholine synthesis in the brain (a primary neurotransmitter responsible for improving memory function). For having the unique ability to cross the blood brain barrier, some research suggests that acetyl-L-carnitine may also impede aging processes and neurodegeneration by preventing brain cell death.

In addition to enhancing cognitive abilities (such as increased alertness, enhance attention, enhance visual memory, and improved learning), acetyl-L-carnitine has also been shown to successfully suppress protein glycation.

From on top of discussion, it is clear that the acetyl based carnitine product is the best option for those who wish to gain the paramount benefit by taking a carnitine supplement. Therefore, I want to advocate that it will be a wise decision for carnitine deficient individuals, vegetarians, and those looking to enhance weight loss to take an acetyl based carnitine supplement.  

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