ALC, also known as Acetyl L-Carnitine, is a naturally occuring substance normally found in small amounts in milk and the human body. As a nutrional supplement ALC has recently become popular based upon compelling evidence of its ability to slow the degredation of mental functions suffered by Alzheimer’s patients. ALC has also grown in popularity as a nutrient taken by healthy people looking to increase mental functions while slowing the loss of memory normally associated with the aging process.
Much of the excitement surrounding ALC has been generated by scientific tests on human patients conducted in Italy, where Alberto Spagnoli, M.D., of the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Milan reported that the drug slowed cognitive decline in 63 patients with Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, these patients had significantly better results than untreated Alzheimer’s patients in 13 of 14 measures of mental functioning, including memory, attention, verbal capacity and daily-living activities.
Alzheimers researchers working in the United States and Europe have conducted scores of human studies with ALC, with doses ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 milligrams per day. The results of several double-blind, placebo-controlled studies indicate that ALC is effective in slowing the deterioration of cognitive functions of patients with Alzheimers disease. In several studies the progression of the disease was markedly reduced, and researchers noted increases in memory, attention span, and alertness. Scientists also found that ALC often improved moods and seemed to aleviate depression
Researchers have reported that ALC seems to work by preventing normal age-dependent cell changes in the brain, as well as slowing the loss of neurons in the hippocampus. Scientists have also found that ALC is able to increase levels of NGF, also known as nerve growth factor. NGF levels normally decline with increased aging, and their loss has been associated with a subsequent loss of brain functions. Evidence also points to ALC’s ability to increase levels of choline acetyltransferase, a vital brain enzyme that plays an important role in learning and memory.
Scientists have also found that ALC can aid in the repair of damaged DNA strands in white blood cells, suggesting that this nutrient can help to prevent age-related decline of immune system functions. Effective DNA repair is at the very heart of all life functions and it is theorized that with increasing age, diminished DNA repair capacity may play an important role in determining one’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurodegenerative diseases.
While regarded as a relatively safe substance, ALC should not be taken by pregnant or lactating women. ALC should be taken with food to prevent stomach upset. Other than slightly increased agitation, no major adverse side effects were reported in the Italian study.