Carnitine and its derivatives exist in a carnitine â€œpoolâ€ in the body. Cellular enzymes and transporters rapidly convert the carnitine to the required form and transport it to the tissues. Carnitine and its derivatives play a key role in fat, carbohydrate, and protein metabolism and energy production and are critical components for mitochondrial metabolism. Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) is the most important derivative of carnitine and occurs naturally in the body. Because ALC is considered to have greater bioavailability and is therefore more able to cross neurological membranes, it is the preferred form to take for promoting neurological health.
The levels of carnitine and its derivatives are critical to normal biological functioning. Carnitine is present in the diet in red meats and dairy products, and humans can make carnitine from the amino acids lysine and methionine. However, carnitine deficiency can occur with metabolic disorders, and in conditions such as diabetic neuropathy (nerve pain) and other complications of diabetes.
ALC has been studied in various conditions including neurological and cognitive disorders such as Alzheimerâ€™s, dementia, depression, neuropathies, and cardiovascular disease, as well as with respect to the fatigue and pain associated with conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome and sciatica.