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:

Acetylcarnitine – Biosint

Acetylcarnitine – Montiff

Fish oil to improve blood vessels

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).


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.

Nutrivir – No Sugar Added

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:


NEW! Managing and Preventing HIV Med Side-Effects

To mark its fifth anniversary, the New York Buyers’ Club has prepared a special edition of SUPPLEMENT. In it you will find a concise Guide to managing and preventing HIV medication side effects with supplements and other complementary and alternative therapies.

This is an invaluable introduction to how nutritional supplements can be used to counter those side effects that can make life miserable–or even disrupt treatment adherence–in people taking antiretroviral medications for HIV.

Read about approaches to dealing with diarrhea, nausea, heart health issues, diabetes, insomnia, fatigue, liver stress, lipodystrophy, anxiety and depression.

This FREE Guide is available online at:

On the NYBC website you can also SUBSCRIBE to the nonprofit co-op’s quarterly FREE newsletter, THE SUPPLEMENT, which continues to offer a unique perspective on current evidence-based use of supplements for chronic conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes/insulin resistance, hepatitis and other liver conditions, anxiety/depression, osteoarthritis, cognitive and neurorological issues, and gastrointestinal dysfunction.

Can carnitine reduce diabetes risk and improve body shape?

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:!OpenDocument

Read more background information at the NYBC entries:




SUPPLEMENTS AND OTHER SMART STRATEGIES FOR LONGER LIVING – A panel discussion on traditional, complementary and alternative treatments for HIV

We reprint below our report on this June 2009 forum, which brought together a range of views on managing HIV:

SUPPLEMENTS AND OTHER SMART STRATEGIES FOR LONGER LIVING was the title of a panel discussion on traditional, complementary and alternative therapies for HIV presented on June 25, 2009 by the New York Buyers’ Club in celebration of its fifth anniversary. The event brought together experts whose knowledge spans East and West, and whose experience ranges from community organizing and scientific writing, to clinical research and the practice of medicine, whether as an M.D. or as a licensed acupuncturist and specialist in Chinese herbalism.

NYBC was especially proud to host our Guest of Honor, Sunil Pant, the first openly gay Member of Parliament in Nepal, and Founder/Director of the HIV-support organization the Blue Diamond Society, which was recognized by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission in 2007 as “one of the most effective human rights groups in the world.” At the start of the panel discussion, our Guest of Honor gave a moving account of the work he and his organization have done over the last decade in securing rights for sexual minorities in Nepal, and in fighting for decent treatment of Nepalis with HIV/AIDS. Sunil also took a moment to recall the many years he has known and worked with our own George Carter, who has directed NYBC efforts to provide supplements and other aid to BDS.

We also felt privileged to hear from our other panelists: Dr. Paul Bellman, a NYC physician who has been treating people with HIV/AIDS since the start of the epidemic; Tim Horn, President and Editor of; Alex Brameier, a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist; and George Carter, Director of the Foundation for Integrative AIDS Research. It’s true that the first two of these panelists are in the mainstream of AIDS treatment practice, by which we only mean to say that their main area of expertise is antiretroviral pharmaceuticals. Yet Dr. Bellman also spoke of the usefulness of several supplements that NYBC and its predecessor DAAIR have long recommended: alpha lipoic acid, carnitine, and CoQ10. Tim Horn, whose website focuses largely on pharmaceutical treatments, nevertheless also acknowledged that the “holistic” approach to long-term health for people with HIV makes a lot of sense. And he went on to say that he recognizes that a whole range of “therapies” (including even diet and exercise) may be needed to address worrisome trends in heart and lung disease among people with HIV who are taking ARVs.

Alex Brameier, the Lic. Ac. on our panel, engaged our audience with an impromptu survey on how people view their acupuncture treatments. She then discussed some of the conditions that lend themselves to acupuncture, based on clinical experience: pain relief, stress reduction, neurological and musculoskeletal disorders, to name a few. Very useful as well was the contrast she drew between acupuncture as practiced in China and Japan (where treatment may be daily or every other day), and the West, where time and financial constraints often dictate otherwise. Her tips on how to get the best out of acupuncture and how acupuncture and herbs can work together were also very valuable.

Last but not least among our contributors was George Carter, who’s had two decades of experience with supplements, from clinical research to acting as NYBC Treatment Director. George, as all who know him can attest, is nothing if not thorough, and for this event he prepared a “Short Primer on Side Effects,” a compact but comprehensive review of HIV medication side effects, ranging from malabsorption/diarrhea//nausea, to lipid abnormalities (of concern for cardiovascular health), to fatigue and insomnia, to insulin resistance/diabetes, to liver damage, to bone issues, to peripheral neuropathy. We hope to produce this super-useful handout as a handy pocket guide in the near future, so stay tuned.

An inspirational, lively, and (if we do say so ourselves) immensely informative event. If you were there, thanks for coming! And if not–we certainly hope to see you at the next one.

Reprinted from the SUMMER 2009 SUPPLEMENT: Newsletter of the New York Buyers’ Club, which can be read in its entirety at

In addition to the piece above, this issue contains a report on how research on diet and nutrition has led to new knowledge about supplements (“Are You Ready to Join the Food Revolution?”), and a short review on HIV and cognitive impairment.

Note: Email subscriptions to THE SUPPLEMENT are free to NYBC members.

A carnitine supplement: “propionyl-L-carnitine”

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