Side Effects of Acetyl-L-Carnitine

Written by carolyn green
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Acetyl-l-carnitine is also known as ALC, l-acetyl-carnitine, and acetylcarnitine. It is a molecule occurring naturally in the liver, kidney and brain. It is also available as a dietary supplement. Acetyl-l-carnitine is used for age-related cognitive decline and for a variety of other health concerns. Side effects are rare but can occur, and there can be drug interactions.


According to the Maimonides Medical Center, acetyl-l-carnitine is similar in form to l-carnitine, an amino acid. It also has functions similar to l-carnitine, such as being helpful in the metabolising of food into energy. Acetyl-l-carnitine is part of the acetyl group that contributes to the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, a requirement for mental function.


The Maimonides Medical Center reports that there are benefits to using acetyl-l-carnitine in the treatment of age-related cognitive decline; scientific data has shown reliable and relatively consistent substantial health benefits in this area. Acetyl-l-carnitine has also shown some benefits in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, Down syndrome, depression (for the elderly), fibromyalgia, liver cirrhosis, type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, erectile dysfunction (in combination with l-carnitine) and macular degeneration (when used with fish oil).

Side Effects

According to PeaceHealth, when using acetyl-l-carnitine, side effects are uncommon, however, some can occur. Side effects including an increase in appetite, nausea and vomiting, agitation, skin rash and body odour have been reported.


PeaceHealth reports that certain drug interactions can occur when taking acetyl-l-carnitine. Drug interactions have occurred with Cisplatin, Didanosine, Paclitaxel and Stavudine. Some drug interactions may cause the need to increase the intake of acetyl-l-carnitine.


The Maimonides Medical Center reports that most research involving acetyl-l-carnitine recommends using 500 mg three times daily. Some research has used twice this amount for beneficial results. Acetyl-l-carnitine levels are known to decrease with advancing age. However, it is not an essential nutrient and therefore, no true deficiency occurs.


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers all herbs, vitamins and minerals to be dietary supplements; they are not subject to the same quality control as prescription medication. Some supplements may interact with your prescription medicine. Consult with your health care provider before adding a new supplement to your diet.

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