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Anti-ageing supplements - Alpha Lipoic Acid and Acetyl-L-Carnitine

Dr Marios Kyriazis explains the background to these supplements, which are now attracting much interest in anti-ageing research 


Alpha Lipoic Acid

This naturally occurring substance was first discovered to be present in the body in the early 1950s, though its function was then unclear. Today we know that it is a strong antioxidant which protects many tissues in the body. One of its actions is to boost the level of another strong antioxidant, glutathione for maximum antioxidant protection. 


Like many supplements, Alpha Lipoic Acid is thought to work much better if taken in association with vitamins C, E and co-enzyme Q10, all of which are effective antioxidants in their own right. This combination was found to be effective against ageing of mice in a number of experiments in the past 10 years.

Using Alpha Lipoic Acid with another aid to cell protection, Acetyl-L- Carnitine, has been found to boost the immune system in rats and to protect brain cells against free radical damage to improve memory and energy levels.

Alpha Lipoic Acid has been used mainly for diabetics under supervision of a practitioner of complementary medicine. 


The first thing to point out when talking about this supplement is not to confuse it with a similar sounding supplement, Acetyl-L-Carnosine. Carnosine - which I wrote about for last year - is a completely different compound and has quite different actions on the body.

Several scientific studies have shown that Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALC) is effective in:

        boosting energy levels

      strengthening the immune system

        protecting against free radical damage

ALC works inside the mitochondria, the powerhouses of the cell where energy is produced. It has long been approved by the American FDA for use in treating low energy and heart failure. Like most other nutrients, ALC works much more efficiently if it is used in combination with other nutrients.

Using ALC together with Alpha Lipoic Acid may help boost memory and energy levels much more effectively that using each of these nutrients on their own.

The dose of ALC is 500 mg taken two to three times a day, on an empty stomach. ALC is a mild stimulant and so it is best taken in the morning, otherwise it may cause difficulty in sleeping.

Despite the recent enthusiasm for these supplements, a word of warning is necessary. Experiments using ALC and Alpha Lipoic Acid have had positive benefits in mice. This, however, does not mean that the benefits will necessarily hold true for humans too. We look forward to further research. 

Dr Marios Kyriazis is the author of ‘Stay Young Longer-Naturally’ , published by the Vega Press, price 9.99. This book contains extensive information on ageing and age-related diseases, including conventional and complementary treatments, nutrition and brain exercises.

For more information see

NB does not necessarily endorse supplements and products that appear on the website. If you are interested in Carnosine, we suggest you discuss it with your GP or nutritionist or an anti-ageing specialist.


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