What is the difference between L-Carnitine vs Acetyl L-Carnitine ALCAR

The difference between L-Carnitine and Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALCAR)

In general, both Acetyl L-carnitine and L-carnitine are derivatives of the amino acid carnitine. Though they have similar chemical structures there are some key differences between the two. These differences mean that each of these supplements have actions and benefits unique to them. For this reason, it’s vital to understand the difference.

What is carnitine?

Carnitine is an amino acid. It’s a vital nutrient for the human body. It assists a range of systems to work as they should. Found in almost all the body’s cells, it’s also used as a building block for protein naturally produced within the body.
Rich dietary sources of carnitine are meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products. Fruits, vegetables and grains contain little or none.

Carnitine can be also biosynthesised in the liver and kidneys. Yet this endogenous production relies on many co-factors (amino acids lysine and methionine, ascorbic acid/Vitamin C, NAD+ from Vitamin B3, pyridoxine (B6), iron and more) and deficiencies of any of these can lead to carnitine deficiency. [1] Thus, vegetarians and vegans may find the need to supplement [2].

Carnitine handles the transportation of fatty acid chains from foods you eat to the body’s mitochondria. Once there they’re oxidized to produce energy (ATP). With insufficient carnitine, the body can’t be effective at transporting any fat cells, both deposited and fats from food, into the mitochondria. As a result, any fat not getting broken down and used as energy is likely to build up.

Carnitine also removes waste products from the mitochondria.

L-Carnitine supplement – for the body

L-Carnitine is most often used for weight loss purposes or by bodybuilders or athletes seeking to boost their exercise performance. It increases the body’s fat burning rate and gets fat deposited in the adipose tissue moving to the mitochondria where it’s burned for energy [3] [4]. Were that not enough, it increases energy output so providing enhanced endurance when training [5].

L-Carnitine is best taken with a meal, when carbohydrates from the meal raise insulin level. Because insulin enhances the assimilation of carnitine into tissues.

Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALCAR) – for the brain

Acetyl L-Carnitine, also known as ALCAR, is the acetylated version of L-Carnitine. This form has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, which aids in improving brain functions. Acetyl L-Carnitine can therefore boost energy metabolism in your brain, resulting in improvement of almost all cognitive processes. Plus, it supports acetylcholine synthesis in the brain [6] – a primary neurotransmitter responsible for memory.

Besides enhancing such cognitive processes as learning, memory, alertness and focus [7] [8], Acetyl L-Carnitine helps get rid of toxins from the brain. ALCAR can help to remove damaged fats and lipofuscin from the brain [9]. Liposfuscin is one of the brain’s ‘wear and tear’ pigments. It contains oxidated fatty acids, sugars and metals, including mercury and aluminium. Associated with an accumulation of lipofuscin in the brain are such diseases as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and lateral sclerosis – to name but a few [10].

Last but not least, studies found ALCAR to protect the nerve cells in the brain in situations involving a lack of oxygen [6].

And finally, since it crosses the blood-brain barrier the body will do a better job of absorbing Acetyl L-Carnitine on an empty stomach.


If your goal is weight loss, fat burning, sport endurance enhancement – go for L-Carnitine.
If your goal is improving brain functions and neuroprotection – ALCAR should be your choice.
If anti-oxidative neuroprotection is your goal then opt for our Acetyl L-Carnitine & Alpha Lipoic Acid supplement.