Acetyl-l-carnitine is a dietary supplement which is considered to be very useful for the treatment of a number of medical conditions. However, if not taken in the right dosage or mixed with some other drugs, it can have some side effects.
Acetyl-l-carnitine, which is also known as acetylcarnitine, l-acetyl-carnitine, and ALC, is a natural occurring compound that is found in the human body. The body obtains this compound mainly through its diet, mainly from red meat and dairy, but acetyl-l-carnitine is primarily derived from methionine and lysine amino acids, and is largely synthesized in the kidney and liver. It must be carried to other body tissues so that they can use it. It is also available in dietary nutritional supplements, which are claimed to be useful for treating a number of different medical conditions. The side effects are rare but can occur, and there can be drug interactions.
Acetyl-l-carnitine is essential for the proper functioning of mitochondria which are the energy factories of human cells. For most people, the body can make plenty of this compound on its own, and usually does not need supplementation. However, for some individuals, supplementation becomes necessary, for example babies who are born prematurely or people with certain genetic defects.
Some of the claimed health benefits include treating the following conditions:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Age related memory problems
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Depression in the elderly
- Down syndrome
- Cognitive (thinking) problems associated with alcoholism
- Poor circulation in the brain after a stroke
- Nerve pain due to diabetes or certain HIV medications.
- Facial paralysis
- Male infertility
- Weight Loss
Like other dietary supplements, there is no clearly established safe and effective dosage for everyone who takes this supplement. It depends on the reason the person is taking it, and often, in case of infants, the dosage is according to their weight. Studies have generally used doses ranging from 1,000 mg to 4,000 mg per day. It is best to follow the instructions written on a particular product, unless the doctor recommends otherwise.
Acetyl-l-carnitine is considered to be safe in general, and clinical trials have included children who have experienced no marked side effects from it . However, if not taken in the right dosage or along with certain drugs, some people may experience problems with it. Therefore, it is very important to talk to your doctor before taking these supplements, especially if you have underactive thyroids, seizures, epilepsy, allergies, or if you are pregnant. Besides that, people taking certain drugs should probably avoid it completely, they reduce its effectiveness. Other drugs can actually react with it to cause negative side effects. These drugs include cisplatin, a chemotherapy drug, HIV-AIDS drugs, didanosine and stavudine, and paclitaxel or taxol, a naturally derived cancer treatment.
Some of the reported side effects of acetyl-l-carnitine include nausea and vomiting, upset stomach, foul breath that smells of fish, and body odor. Some side effects are potentially serious and should be reported immediately to a doctor.
- Manic behavior
- Signs of an allergic reactions
An individual can experience some or none of the side effects listed in this article. Make sure to let your doctor know if you develop any problems while taking the supplement, or if you experience something that just does not seem right. While it may not be related to acetyl-l-carnitine, your doctor will be able to diagnose and treat the problem.