ACETYL L-CARNITINE or ALC is an amino acid made from L-carnitine. It helps the body turn fat into energy by moving fatty acids into the mitochondria of cells. The acetyl group that is part of the acetyl-L-carnitine contributes to production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is required for mental function.

Your body makes it in the liver and kidneys and stores it in the skeletal muscles, heart, and brain. Usually, your body can make all the carnitine it needs. Some people, however, may not have enough.  Some medications can lower carnitine levels. Kidney disease or liver disease could lead to low levels.

Benefits of carnitine include:

  • Antioxidant
  • Helps with weight loss
  • Improves neuropathy pain due to uncontrolled diabetes or chemotherapy
  • Lowers insulin resistance and improves metabolism
  • Alzheimer disease and mental function
  • Depression
  • Male infertility

There is limited data but some to suggest that carnitine may help reduce fat mass, increase muscle mass, and contribute to weight loss. Studies suggest ALC may help reduce pain and increase feeling in those with diabetic neuropathy. It is also possible that carnitine can help nerves regenerate. More research is needed.

ALC might improve mental and physical tiredness particularly in older people. By reducing fatigue, mental function and memory may improve.  ALC has been shown in several studies to significantly reduce depression symptoms in the elderly.

In one study, using ALC showed significant improvement in erectile function in elderly men associated with low testosterone. ALC was found to be more effective than testosterone treatment. ALC is necessary for normal sperm cell function and supplements have been found to normalize sperm motility in men with low sperm quality.

ALC is naturally found in red meat, dairy products, fish, poultry, tempeh, wheat, asparagus, avocados, and peanut butter.

Available Forms

Carnitine is available as a supplement in a variety of forms, such as:

  • L-carnitine: the most widely available and least expensive
  • Acetyl-L-carnitine
  • Propionyl-L-carnitine
  • Avoid D-carnitine supplements. They interfere with the natural form of L-carnitine and may produce unwanted side effects.

When taken by mouth, ALC is likely safe for most people. The recommendation is for 500-1000 2-3x per day. Side effects are generally mild and include gastrointestinal upset, bladder irritation or fishy odor or unusual body odor, stuffy nose, or difficulty sleeping.

Vitamins and supplements should be carefully selected to guarantee quality.  DO NOT take without consulting your healthcare provider. ALC can interfere with some medications such as thyroid, Valproic acid and blood thinners.

Live Long, Live Healthy! 

 Dr. Julie Wood is a Nurse Practitioner and has been serving the Middle Tennessee area for more than 30 years, specializing in adults with obesity, prediabetes and diabetes. The office is located at 401 First Avenue, Mt. Pleasant, TN and statewide with telehealth. Dr. Wood can be reached at 931-325-5560,,  

Articles are meant to be informative and should never replace the advice of your health care provider.