Brain Health

Amino Acid Breakthrough Can Help People With Alzheimer’s Disease

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Amino Acid Breakthrough Can Help People With Alzheimer’s Disease about undefined

An important natural substance that your body makes is proving so vital for brain health that it may soon be used as part of the prevention and treatment of diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease).

This substance, acetyl-l-carnitine, is an amino acid that helps your cells get enough energy to function correctly. And research shows that folks who suffer from neurodegenerative diseases don’t have enough of this nutrient.

So, should you be taking acetyl-l-carnitine supplements? Well, let us show you what the researchers are saying and then you can make up your own mind…

Acetyl-l-carnitine plays a central role in helping mitochondria. Remember, these are the little organelles in your cells that power the day-to-day activities of your body by producing energy for cells to use.

And acetyl-l-carnitine and mitochondria do a lot more than merely carry on this energy-producing process. Mitochondria – with the help of acetyl-l-carnitine – take part in detoxifying cells, keeping cells stabilized, controlling ketogenesis (the breakdown of fatty acids and amino acids for energy) and spurring on glucogenesis (the production of glucose in cells).

Plus, acetyl-l-carnitine protects cellular membranes from oxidation, prevents harmful fatty acid buildup and keeps important cellular processes on track.[1]

As we age, our acetyl-l-carnitine levels drop and, along with that decrease, if you run into a brain problem like Alzheimer’s disease, your mitochondria begin to malfunction. As this occurs, the failing mitochondria cause destructive oxidative stress in the brain’s neurons.

So, researchers have been busy investigating if bringing extra acetyl-l-carnitine into the equation might be able to protect against this damage and keep the brain in better working order as we get older.

The Link Between Acetyl-L-Carnitine And Your Memory

Research now shows that if your memory and mental abilities slowly deteriorate with the passing years, your acetyl-l-carnitine levels drop right along with the progressive erosion of your faculties. For instance, a study in Italy that analyzed the brain health of 119 seniors found that those whose brains worked correctly had the highest levels of acetyl-l-carnitine. Those with Alzheimer’s disease had the lowest. People whose normal brain function had started to slip a bit had acetyl-l-carnitine levels that were also slipping – but they hadn’t dropped all the way down to what was seen in folks with dementia.

Studies like this one have led scientists to try to discern whether getting extra acetyl-l-carnitine can defend against cognitive problems and memory issues.

In this vein, a three-month study in Europe found that giving folks with Alzheimer’s disease a mixture of nutrients which included l-carnitine (which in most respects is interchangeable with acetyl-l-carnitine) as well as nicotinamide riboside, l-serine and N-acetyl-cysteine had a “considerable (beneficial) effect on cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients.”[2]

Improved Memory Function 29 Percent!

According to a test called the Alzheimer’s disease assessment scale, the study participants cognitive function and thinking abilities showed an average improvement of 29 percent. The researchers also found beneficial improvements in the structure of the hippocampus – an important memory center in the brain.

What’s more, the investigation revealed benefits in both people with mild Alzheimer’s and severe Alzheimer’s disease. This is pretty remarkable since so many folks with any stage of the disease feel as though there’s no hope.

Of course, it’s only the beginning of this amino acid’s health benefits. In other tests of acetyl-l-carnitine, researchers have uncovered evidence that it can:

  • Help protect neurons from the damaging effects of Parkinson's disease: A study in Asia found that acetyl-l-carnitine can potentially enhance “regenerative capacity” in brain cells by stimulating activity in certain types of cell-to-cell signals.[3] Another test found this amino acid can possibly improve memory during Parkinson’s disease.[4] While both of these studies were in animals, the findings are promising.
  • Prolong the survival time of people with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease): A study in Italy found that giving ALS patients acetyl-l-carnitine doubled their survival time– from a median time of 22 months to 45 months—that’s almost two more years of life![5] The ALS patients were between the ages of 40 and 70 years old when the study began.
  • Improve energy and boost mental focus in people with chronic fatigue: In the Netherlands, a six-month study of 90 people suffering with chronic fatigue syndrome found that acetyl-l-carnitine could support a better attention span and help with concentration, in addition to increasing their energy level.[6]

  • So, should you take acetyl-l-carnitine to protect against memory issues and other brain health problems? We say yes…

Our Takeaway

It certainly is worthwhile to add acetyl-l-carnitine to your daily supplement regimen if you’re concerned about the health of your brain.

Even if you’re just feeling a little more tired with the passing years, this amino acid might help perk you up. A study in Switzerland shows the amino acid can help older people relieve mental and physical fatigue.[7] And many studies have found that acetyl-l-carnitine may also relieve chronic pain – including the peripheral neuropathy that folks with diabetes often endure.[8]

If you’d like to add more acetyl-l-carnitine to your diet, you can increase your levels naturally by eating more meat and animal products. Or you can eat more beans and avocados, which also contain high levels of this amino acid.

If you choose to supplement, experts recommend not taking more than three grams a day.

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