Last update: July 2, 2024

6 minute read

What is Acetyl-L-Carnitine?

Discover the benefits of Acetyl-L-Carnitine for brain health, weight loss, and heart health. Learn about dosage, side effects, and food sources.

Stephanie Wright

By Stephanie Wright, RN, BSN

Edited by Dr. Dimitar Marinov, MD, MBA, PhD

Learn more about our editorial standards

Hey there, health-conscious friend! Are you curious about what Acetyl-L-Carnitine is and how it may be able to improve your life? You've come to the right place!

In this blog post, we'll explore the many potential benefits of Acetyl-L-Carnitine, from boosting cognitive function to supporting weight loss and heart health. We'll also cover the best food sources and any side effects or precautions you should know.

What is Acetyl-L-Carnitine? Acetyl-L-Carnitine is a naturally occurring compound that plays an important role in energy production and supports many bodily functions, like cognitive function, weight loss, and heart health.

Key takeaways

  • Acetyl-L-Carnitine is an amino acid derivative that helps transport fatty acids into mitochondria for energy production
  • It supports cognitive function, memory, and energy levels in the body
  • Food sources of Acetyl-L-Carnitine include red meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products

    What is Acetyl-L-Carnitine, and why is it important?

    Acetyl-L-Carnitine, often called ALCAR, is a supercharged form of L-Carnitine, an amino acid naturally found in your body. It's important for energy production, as it transports fatty acids into the mitochondria, the powerhouses of body cells.

    This process helps fuel your body, giving you energy for both mental and physical activities. But, ALCAR doesn't stop there. It has many other health benefits, making it an important supplement for overall well-being.

    For example, Acetyl-L-Carnitine may benefit cognitive function by increasing the production of neurotransmitters, which are essential for memory, learning, and overall brain health. Research suggests that ALCAR may support cognition and degenerative brain conditions like Alzheimer’s.

    Moreover, it's linked to Acetyl-L-Carnitine for energy production and exercise performance, making it a popular supplement among athletes. When it comes to weight management, Acetyl-L-Carnitine’s potential weight loss benefits are noteworthy. Additionally, ALCAR has been shown to potentially reduce feelings of fatigue, allowing you to maintain higher energy levels throughout the day.

    What are the best food sources of Acetyl-L-Carnitine?

    While your body naturally produces Acetyl-L-Carnitine, it's good to know that we can also get it from food sources. In fact, some of the best Acetyl-L-Carnitine foods are those rich in L-Carnitine, as your body can convert it into ALCAR.

    These foods include animal products, such as meat, poultry, fish, and dairy. Red meat, particularly beef, and lamb, is a fantastic source of L-Carnitine, with up to 95 mg per 100 grams in cooked beef.

    However, if you're looking for a leaner option, chicken and turkey also contain L-Carnitine, though in lower amounts (3-5 mg per 100 grams). For seafood lovers, fish like salmon, cod, and tuna provide moderate L-Carnitine, ranging from 5 to 16 mg per 100 grams.

    And let's not forget dairy products like whole milk, cheese, and yogurt, which can contribute smaller amounts of L-Carnitine to your diet (2-3 mg per 100 grams). Although plant-based food sources contain significantly lower levels of L-Carnitine, some options like avocados, whole wheat bread, and asparagus can still provide small amounts of this valuable nutrient.

    If you're following a vegetarian or vegan diet, you might want to consider an Acetyl-L-Carnitine supplement to ensure you're getting enough of this essential compound. In fact, vegans produce about 40% less carnitine than omnivores, so the potential weight-loss benefits of L-carnitine supplementation would be greater in this group.

    Food Category

    Food Item

    L-Carnitine Content (mg per 100 grams)

    Red Meat




    95 (approx.)













    Dairy Products

    Whole Milk








    Small amount

    Whole Wheat Bread

    Small amount


    Small amount

    Are there any side effects or precautions to consider with Acetyl-L-Carnitine supplementation?

    Acetyl-L-Carnitine is generally considered safe for most people, and the benefits often outweigh any potential drawbacks. However, it's essential to be aware of the possible Acetyl-L-Carnitine side effects and precautions before diving into supplementation.

    For starters, some people may experience mild side effects like nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, or diarrhea when taking ALCAR supplements. If you encounter any of these symptoms, it's best to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate course of action.

    There is also a benign side effect of “fishy” odor which may occur during supplementation. It's also crucial to consider the proper Acetyl-L-Carnitine dosage to minimize potential adverse effects.

    The recommended dosage typically ranges from 500 to 2,000 mg per day, but it's wise to start with a lower dose and gradually increase as needed. Always follow the manufacturer's guidelines and consult a healthcare provider for personalized recommendations.

    Furthermore, some people should exercise caution when taking ALCAR supplements. For example, people with certain medical conditions, like liver problems, kidney disease, or epilepsy, should consult a healthcare professional before starting supplementation. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are also advised to consult their doctors before using ALCAR, as its safety during pregnancy and lactation has not been well-established.

    Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

    Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about Acetyl-L-Carnitine.

    Final thoughts

    We've reached the end of our Acetyl-L-Carnitine journey. Like a trusty little molecule transporting fatty acids to their energy-burning destination, we've transported you through the ins and outs of this amazing compound.

    Now you know the benefits of Acetyl-L-Carnitine, its food sources, and how it may potentially support your overall well-being. To sum it all up, Acetyl-L-Carnitine is like the mitochondria's chauffeur, always ready to lift fatty acids!

    With its ability to support cognitive function and energy levels, this amino acid derivative proves it's no "L-ame" addition to your health regimen. So, if you want to optimize your energy and brainpower, consider trying Acetyl-L-Carnitine.

    Remember, laughter is the best medicine, but don't forget to fuel your body with the right nutrients. Stay informed, keep learning, and care for your health – because a healthy you is a happy you!



    Stephanie Wright avatar

    Stephanie brings over 13 years of diverse nursing experience to the table, having honed her expertise in critical care, mental health, and utilization management. Her journey as a registered nurse across these various healthcare sectors underscores her adaptability and deep commitment to patient care.

    Fact checker

    Dr. Dimitar Marinov avatar

    Dr. Marinov has years of experience in scientific research and preventive and clinical medicine. His publications in peer-reviewed journals are on nutritional status, physical activity, and musculoskeletal disorders among adolescents.

    At VitaRx, we're not just passionate about our work — we take immense pride in it. Our dedicated team of writers diligently follows strict editorial standards, ensuring that every piece of content we publish is accurate, current, and highly valuable. We don't just strive for quality; we aim for excellence.

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