Acetyl-L-carnitine is a naturally occurring compound found throughout the human body. It can be obtained through the diet (from red meat and dairy), although the body can also make the compound using amino acids. Acetyl-L-carnitine is also available in dietary supplements
, which are claimed to be useful for treating a number of different medical conditions.
Acetyl-L-carnitine is essential for proper functioning of mitochondria, the "energy factories" of human cells. For most people, the body can make plenty of this compound on its own, making supplementation unnecessary. However, for some individuals (such as premature infants or people with certain genetic defects), supplementation with some form of carnitine (such as acetyl-L-carnitine) is necessary. In critical situations, the use of the prescription product levocarnitine (Carnitor®) is usually preferred.
It is not entirely clear exactly how this compound works for the various conditions for which it is used, although different mechanisms have been suggested by researchers.
Is Acetyl-L-Carnitine Effective?
Preliminary research suggests that this supplement might be effective for a number of different uses, although more research is necessary to confirm these early findings (see Does Acetyl-L-Carnitine Work? for more information)