February 8, 2011
NYBC has issued a new info sheet on ACETYLCARNITINE, a key item in our catalog.
Below is some background on this supplement, as well as some of the important evidence supporting its use.
Or–click on the image above for the full-sized INFO SHEET.
Acetylcarnitine is a form of carnitine, an amino acid found in nearly all cells of the body. Carnitine plays an essential role in the mitochondria, the energy factories within cells. The acetyl component of acetylcarnitine provides for the formation of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, key to memory function in the brain. Acetylcarnitine is often regarded as the preferred form for carnitine supplementation because it is better absorbed from the small intestine than L-carnitine and more efficiently crosses the blood-brain barrier.
Significant research on acetylcarnitine:
• Acetylcarnitine may have a triglyceride-lowering effect for some people, as well as helping to elevate HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels. It may have cardioprotective activity in addition to beneficially affecting cardiac function. It may also have antioxidant and neuroprotective properties.
• There has been a great deal of attention to carnitine because it may help counter the mitochondrial toxicity experienced in HIV infection and all the successive problems which that may cause, including neuropathy, myopathy, bone marrow suppression (and resulting decreases in red and white blood cells and platelets), pancreatitis, fatty liver, lactic acidosis, and fat loss (lipoatrophy).
• Acetylcarnitine has also been studied for its capacity to enhance memory and other cognitive function.
Please visit the NYBC product entries for more information:
May 24, 2010
Published on AEGIS (an EXCELLENT resource for information relating to HIV/AIDS and hepatitis). The increase, however, in TNF suggests use of carnitine to prevent this from becoming a problem. Older studies by de Simone et al showed that use of up to 6 grams of L-carnitine per day could normalize elevated TNF (without wiping out the level if it was within range).
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS SUPPLEMENTATION IMPROVE INFLAMMATION AND ENDOTHELIAL ACTIVATION IN HIV-INFECTED ADULTS ON STABLE ANTIRETROVIRAL THERAPY Antiviral Therapy 2009; 14(Suppl. 2):A37 (abstract no. P-15)
CO Hileman, M O’Riordan and GA McComsey
University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, USA
OBJECTIVES/AIM: Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil decrease coronary artery disease (CAD) risk and cardiovascular mortality. This may be due to an anti-inflammatory effect. Inflammation and endothelial dysfunction may play a role in the enhanced cardiovascular risk of HIVinfected patients. Our aim was to evaluate changes in markers of inflammation and endothelial activation in virologically suppressed, HIV-infected adults taking fish oil for 3–6 months.
METHODS: We utilized stored plasma from the Case Center for AIDS Research sample repository. Eligibility criteria included infection with HIV-1, ≥18 years, on stable antiretroviral therapy (ART), HIV-1 RNA 3 months, had stored paired plasma samples from before and 3–6 months after initiating fish oil. We excluded subjects with CAD and active infectious or inflammatory conditions. High-sensitivity CRP (hs-CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), soluble TNF receptors I and II (sTNFR-I and -II), osteoprotegerin, adiponectin, soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (sVCAM-1) and soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM-1) were tested on pre- and post-fish oil samples. The mean of the difference between baseline and follow-up levels were determined for each marker and paired Student’s t-tests or Wilcoxon signed-rank tests were performed as appropriate.
RESULTS: Forty-seven patients met eligibility criteria. hs-CRP (P=0.002), sVCAM-1 (P<0.001) and sICAM-1 (P<0.001) showed a significant decrease after fish oil. The decrease in these markers was independent of changes in total cholesterol, triglycerides, CD4+ T-cell counts, HIV-1 RNA and ART regimens as these did not change significantly over the study period. Although sTNFR-I and -II and IL-6 did not change, plasma TNF-α (P<0.001) increased significantly and adiponectin levels (P<0.001) decreased significantly.
CONCLUSIONS: This pilot study supports our hypothesis that omega-3 fatty acids have potential to decrease inflammation and improve endothelial activation in HIV-infected patients with good virological control.
DISCUSSION: The most significant limitation of this study is that it is an uncontrolled observational study in which the dose, components and adherence to fish oil could not be confirmed and examined in relation to the magnitude of the outcome. Despite this, hs-CRP, sVCAM-1 and sICAM-1 decreased without alternate explanation, results not expected in a population on stable ART with good virological control. However, the same positive effect was not seen for TNF-α or adiponectin. It is possible that despite our careful selection of study participants and samples, there were factors not controlled for that may have contributed to the increase in TNF-α and decrease in adiponectin. One possible explanation is that our entire study population was on ART for the duration of the study. Indeed, in the presence of certain antiretrovirals, increased TNF-α and reduced secretion of adiponectin have been seen in vivo and in vitro.
May 4, 2010
Nutrivir, which NYBC has stocked since the start, is an excellent and tasty combination of nutrients in a base of vanilla-flavored whey protein concentrate. In addition to vitamins and minerals, Nutrivir contains n-acetylcysteine (NAC) and carnitine. It was formulated especially to combat wasting syndrome, which can occur in those undergoing cancer treatments, or in people with HIV/AIDS. (Wasting syndrome is defined as unintended and progressive weight loss, accompanied by weakness, fevers and nutritional deficiencies due to malabsorption.)
Here’s a bit more from the supplier of Nutrivir:
Increasing evidence suggests that abnormal metabolism of cysteine and glutathione plays a decisive role in loss of muscle and immune dysfunction associated with [wasting syndrome]. At this time, the most promising supplement for these patients is a cysteine derivative known as N-acetyl cysteine (NAC). NutriVir [supplies]… quantities of NAC and other antioxidants that have been shown in clinical trials to be effective in combating wasting, malabsorption and diarrhea associated with cancer and AIDS.
Read more details at the NYBC entry:
November 3, 2009
We were interested to read about a recent study on carnitine, diabetes risk and body shape in people with HIV, as reported on the CATIE (Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange) website:
Some studies have found less-than-normal levels of carnitine in the blood of HIV positive people. Other studies have found that regular supplementation with carnitine can help to reduce abnormal levels of triglycerides, a fatty substance in the blood. Most of the studies focused on a formulation of carnitine called L-carnitine.
Long-term studies of a different formulation of carnitine—acetyl-L-carnitine—suggest that this substance can help damaged nerves recover from the toxicity of certain anti-HIV drugs such as d4T (Zerit, stavudine) and ddI (Videx EC, didanosine).
Now researchers in Milan, Italy, have conducted a small study with HIV positive volunteers and carnitine, to assess its effects on body composition and other related metabolic parameters. The results from this study suggest the possibility of a decreased risk for diabetes. Furthermore, the research team claims that carnitine supplements increased the fat content in the legs of volunteers. We urge readers to exercise caution when interpreting the results of this small study and we provide critical details later in this CATIE News bulletin.
Read more information on the study at:
Read more background information at the NYBC entries:
July 19, 2009
We decided to stock this form of carnitine from Jarrow after we reviewed some data suggesting that it may get into muscle tissue more readily and therefore be a more effective form of this nutrient, which is essential in turning fat into energy in the body.
See also the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Complementary Medicine library, which describes “propionyl-L-carnitine” as the form “often used in studies for heart disease and peripheral vascular disease”:
Read more details in the NYBC entry for GPLC Glyco-Carn
April 15, 2009
This is a research report published on March 21, 2009 in World Journal of Gastroenterology.
The study looked at the role of L-carnitine in the development of hepatocarcinogenesis. The researchers suggest regarding carnitine deficiency is a risk factor and a mechanism in hepatic carcinogenesis, and found that long-term L-carnitine supplementation prevents the development of liver cancer. They conclude that L-carnitine supplementation alone or in combination with other natural chemopreventive compounds could be used to prevent, slow or reverse liver cancer.
We read about this research at
March 28, 2008
We’re re-printing below an excerpt from a piece Lark Lands wrote several years ago, because it still has much solid advice for people with HIV/AIDS. A medical journalist and longtime AIDS treatment educator and advocate, Lark was a pioneer in focusing attention on an integrated, “holistic” approach to HIV disease. She served as science editor for POZ magazine, and has also been a contributor to Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange (CATIE) publications.
The title of this piece is “The 7 Deadly Sins for those wishing to live long and well with HIV.” This excerpt has to do with nutrient needs (but see also the other sections, including those on gastrointestinal health and maintaining muscle mass.)
Sin #2: Ignoring the nutrient needs that both the disease and the medicines create.
Whether or not you’re taking antiretrovirals, your body is fighting an ongoing battle. It needs higher levels of nutrients to do that. You can’t power the body’s immune response or build replacement immune cells without the nutrient building blocks. You need to consume:
–good levels of protein
–good levels of unrefined complex carbohydrates (brown rice instead of white; whole-grain breads, crackers, cookies and pasta instead of those made with nutrient-poor white flour)
lots of fresh fruits and vegetables
–moderate amounts of good fats every day (monounsaturated fats like olive oil are best; avoid the partially hydrogenated oils found in margarines, shortenings and many baked goods and snack foods. Read the labels!)
–lots of healthful liquids (water, juices, teas — not chemical- and sugar-loaded junk drinks)
That’s how you power your body to keep up the immense battle against HIV. Numerous studies have shown that disease progression is faster in people with low levels of nutrients, so remember, nutrients are one of your best weapons against HIV. (Always make sure that the food you eat and the water you drink is safe.)
Nutrients can also help prevent or reduce the side effects and toxicity of medications while improving their absorption. You can help your body handle all the pills you’re taking by giving it good nutrition, lots of healthful fluids, appropriate supplementation and plenty of liver and kidney support.
With liver-toxic drugs: Consider L-carnitine (or L-acetyl-carnitine), and the nutrients that maintain glutathione levels in the liver — alpha-lipoic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) and L-glutamine. Depending on drug interactions (check!), silymarin (milk thistle extract) may also be useful.
To help with kidney stress: Drink lots of water throughout the day. Aim for a large glass every hour or so, especially each time you pop your pills.
Don’t forget that nutrient supplementation can often help reduce or possibly eliminate HIV-related symptoms such as fatigue, skin problems, diarrhea and gas, memory loss, neuropathy and more. In order to manage a difficult disease long-term, you need to feel good!
March 25, 2008
The people at the AIDS Treatment Data Network (ATDN) have developed a series of “Simple Fact Sheets” about treatment and management of HIV. Their fact sheet on “Nutritional Management of Lipodystrophy,” written by an HIV nutritionist at Cabrini Medical Center in New York, covers diet (the right mix of carbohydrates, protein, fruits and vegetables, the right kinds of fats), exercise, and supplements, beginning with a good multivitamin, preferably one that includes a good set of antioxidants. There’s also a description of some supplements that may be useful in reducing lipodystrophy: L-carnitine, NAC, chromium, alpha lipoic acid, B-complex vitamins (niacin may be key among the B vitamins, but the recommendation is to always supplement using a B-complex, since the different B vitamins support one another’s action), and omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil and/or flaxseed).
To read the entire fact sheet, go to
March 22, 2008
Acetyl-l-carnitine (often shortened to acetylcarnitine) and L-Carnitine (aka carnitine) are among the most heavily investigated of dietary supplements for their applications to HIV/AIDS. In particular, acetylcarnitine has been studied for more than a decade for HIV-associated neuropathy, especially by Michael Youle in the UK (see other entries under “acetylcarnitine, this Blog). Acetylcarnitine is also a key component in the K-Pax (and NYBC’s low-cost K-pax equivalent, the MAC Pack). Meanwhile, carnitine is also much used by people with HIV, and the prescription form, Carnitor, is made available through some state-funded formularies.
For a very good overview on acetycarnitine and carnitine research and application to HIV/AIDS, see
A brief excerpt:
Why do PHAs use this supplement?
Carnitine has many potential uses, including the following:
1. helping to heal damaged nerves—peripheral neuropathy (PN)
2. helping to decrease levels of lactic acid in the blood
3. reducing higher-than-normal levels of cholesterol and/or triglycerides
4. helping to maintain muscle growth
1. To manage peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage causing tingling, numbness or burning in the hands, feet and legs)
Levels of carnitine in the blood are sometimes lower in PHAs with peripheral neuropathy, particularly under the following conditions:
• damage from viral infections such as HIV and CMV (cytomegalovirus)
• the use of “d” drugs such as d4T, ddI and ddC
• the use of some anti-cancer drugs and antibiotics
• alcohol abuse
What the medications in the above list have in common is that they can damage the energy-producing parts of nerve cells—the mitochondria. Injured mitochondria cannot supply sufficient energy and nerves begin to malfunction and can die. Nerves in the feet, legs and hands, particularly in the skin covering those body parts, appear to be especially susceptible to PN. Some researchers have noticed that PHAs with PN can develop abnormal sweating, suggesting that nerves in sweat glands can also be affected.
One formulation of carnitine, acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR), may play a role in the management of PN. This compound helps mitochondria function and also appears to enhance the effect of a chemical that helps nerves grow—nerve growth factor.
Researchers in England conducted an extensive study of ALCAR in PHAs with peripheral neuropathy. Their findings revealed that most PHAs showed some degree of recovery from nerve damage after taking ALCAR 1.5 grams twice daily for up to 2¾ years.
See also the NYBC entry on acetylcarnitine. Like its predecessor DAAIR, NYBC has this key supplement manufactured by pharmaceutical-grade producer Montiff; this allows for considerable cost savings for co-op buyers compared to commercially available products.
February 23, 2008
The Oregon State University/Linus Pauling Institute website is highlighting a number of recent studies, especially from 2005-2006, which have examined the potential of acetyl-l-carnitine or L-carnitine, together with alpha lipoic acid, to counter the effects of aging in laboratory rats. Like the Linus Pauling Institute reviewer, we are looking forward to human clinical trials in the next few years to further define useful dosages and health benefits.
…two studies found that supplementing aged rats with either ALCAR [acetyl-l-carnitine] or alpha-lipoic acid, a mitochondrial cofactor and antioxidant, improved mitochondrial energy metabolism, decreased oxidative stress, and improved memory. Interestingly, co-supplementation of ALCAR and alpha-lipoic acid resulted in even greater improvements than either compound administered alone. Likewise, several studies have reported that supplementing rats with both L-carnitine and alpha-lipoic acid blunts the age-related increases in reactive oxygen species (ROS), lipid peroxidation, protein carbonylation, and DNA strand breaks in a variety of tissues (heart, skeletal muscle, brain). Improvements in mitochondrial enzyme and respiratory chain activities were also observed. While these findings are very exciting, it is important to realize that these studies used relatively high doses (100 to 300 mg/kg body weight/day) of the compounds and only for a short time (one month). It is not yet known whether taking relatively high doses of these two naturally occurring substances will benefit rats in the long-term or will have similar effects in humans. Clinical trials in humans are planned, but it will be several years before the results are available.