I heard about a special supplement called acetyl-L-carnitine which affects memory and thinking. Could this really help?”
–S.W., Schaumburg, Illinois
Answer: Yes, acetyl-L-carnitine may enhance memory and thinking, but it also is used for weight loss, muscle aches and pain and fatigue. We’ll get to that later. Because our “smart” drugs for memory problems, dementia and Alzheimer’s only work short-term and have side effects, natural treatments such as acetyl-L-carnitine are becoming popular.
One important point, acetyl-L-carnitine is the activated form of L-carnitine, both of which are widely available in health food stores. But don’t get confused, the “acetyl” form is considered superior because it makes more of that famous brain messenger “acetylcholine” which influences mental performance. The more acetylcholine you have, the more brain power you have and the less chance of your developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Here’s more food for thought. This special supplement works wonders from the neck down also. In fact, without sufficient amounts of this amino acid, the body cannot burn fat very efficiently resulting in unwanted weight gain. Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome sufferers use acetyl-L-carnitine to help energize the body and relieve sore achy muscles. Now this is not an all-in-one magical supplement, but if offers people another option and it is well tolerated by most.
Healthcare practitioners suggest 500 mg three times a day, though some studies suggest doubling that dose might be even better. A course of 8 – 12 weeks is recommended, at which point you can lower the dose or stop it altogether, of course under your doctors supervision. Other supplements touted to energize IQ and protect the brain, include alpha lipoic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, vinpocetine, ginkgo and phosphatidylserine.
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.