Mitochondrial Support

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Summary: Coenzyme Q10 (often called CoQ10) is a vitamin-like substance used in the treatment of a variety of disorders primarily related to cellular energy production, metabolism, and oxidative injury. Research shows coenzyme Q10 to be most promising for neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and certain encephalomyopathies for which coenzyme Q10 has gained a high popularity.


Introduction

What is CoEnzyme Q10?

Coenzyme Q10 (2,3 dimethoxy-5 methyl-6-decaprenyl benzoquinone) is a fat-soluble, vitamin-like quinone commonly known as ubiquinone, CoQ, and vitamin Q10. It is available in more than 100 single-ingredient and combination-ingredient products, and in 2002 it accounted for more than $200 million in sales in the United States. [R]

Coenzyme Q10 was first isolated in 1957 in beef mitochondria, and is found in highest concentrations in tissues with high energy turnover such as the heart, brain, liver, and kidney.

CoQ10 is a ubiquitous compound vital to a number of activities related to energy metabolism.

Because dysfunctional energy metabolism has been cited as a contributing factor for a number of conditions, coenzyme Q10 has been indicated in the treatment of cardiac, neurologic, oncologic, and immunologic disorders.

Although the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 does not allow claims for treatment of specific diseases in the United States, coenzyme Q10 has been cleared for treatment indications in other countries, such as for congestive heart failure (CHF) in Japan since 1974.

“Coenzyme Q10 (also known as ubiquinone, ubidecarenone, coenzyme Q, and abbreviated at times to CoQ10, CoQ, or Q10) is a coenzyme that is ubiquitous in animals and most bacteria (hence the name ubiquinone). It is a 1,4-benzoquinone, where Q refers to the quinone chemical group and 10 refers to the number of isoprenyl chemical subunits in its tail.

This fat-soluble substance, which resembles a vitamin, is present in all respiring eukaryotic cells, primarily in the mitochondria. It is a component of the electron transport chain and participates in aerobic cellular respiration, which generates energy in the form of ATP. Ninety-five percent of the human body’s energy is generated this way. Therefore, those organs with the highest energy requirements, such as the heart, liver, and kidney, have the highest CoQ10 concentrations.

There are three redox states of CoQ10: fully oxidized (ubiquinone), semiquinone (ubisemiquinone), and fully reduced (ubiquinol). The capacity of this molecule to act as a two-electron carrier (moving between the quinone and quinol form) and a one-electron carrier (moving between the semiquinone and one of these other forms) is central to its role in the electron transport chain due to the iron–sulfur clusters that can only accept one electron at a time, and as a free-radical–scavenging antioxidant.” – Wikipedia


Benefits & Effects

What Are The CoQ10 Benefits?

  1. Enhances and Sharpens Mental Capabilities
  2. Boosts Energy and Reduces Fatigue
  3. Boosts Mitochondrial Health & Function
  4. Reduces Stress and Free Radicals Damage
  5. Supports Fertility
  6. Combats Statin Drug Side Effects
  7. Cancer Prevention Potential
  8. Powerful Antioxidant & Neuroprotectant
  9. Protects Blood Vessels and Enhances Blood Flow

Supporting research:

Enhances and Sharpens Mental Capabilities

Coenzyme Q10 may also present significant benefits to your cognition. Studies found that individuals with higher levels of CoQ10 showed greater mental sharpness, increased mental energy, and greater performance on a variety of mental tests. In contrast, those with lower levels of Coenzyme Q10 had greater difficulty concentrating, experienced brain fog, were slower in their mental processing, and showed general cognitive decline. Some researchers suggest that taking Coenzyme Q10 early enough may decrease your chances of suffering memory loss as a result of aging.

Boosts Energy and Reduces Fatigue

Some studies also show that Coenzyme Q10 may help to reduce physical fatigue, increase energy, improve exercise capacity, and expedite recovery from exercise.

Boosts Mitochondrial Health & Function

In studies of eight to 44 patients, Coenzyme Q10 demonstrated positive trends in reducing symptoms associated with selected mitochondrial abnormalities including the mitochondrial encephalopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke-like episodes (MELAS) syndrome, Kearns-Sayre syndrome, and the myoclonus epilepsy with ragged-red fibers (MERRhF) syndrome. [R]

Reduces Stress and Free Radicals Damage

Oxidative damage (or free radical damage) of cell structures plays an important role in the functional declines that accompany aging and cause disease. As both a water- and fat-soluble antioxidant, CoQ10 has been found to inhibit lipid peroxidation, which occurs when cell membranes and low-density lipoproteins are exposed to oxidizing conditions that enter from outside the body. [R]

Supports Fertility

The antioxidant properties of CoQ10 could help improve sperm quality and reduce the decline in the number and quality of eggs in women. Supplementing with CoQ10 seems to help and may even reverse this age-related decline in egg quality and quantity.

Female fertility decreases with age due to a decline in the number and quality of available eggs. CoQ10 is directly involved in this process. As you age, CoQ10 production slows, making the body less effective at protecting the eggs from oxidative damage. [R]

Combats Statin Drug Side Effects

Statins are drugs that help lower cholesterol but often come along with a host of side effects.

Patients suffering from statin-related muscle pain, muscle strength degradation, and decreased aerobic activity can increase performance through daily intake of CoQ10 without other symptoms.

“Statin drugs can induce rhabdomyolysis (muscle death) which release rhabdomyosarcoma cells into the bloodstream, degrading other tissues. Human rhabdomyosarcoma cells treated with a CoQ10 supplement alongside simvastatin reversed muscle death and killed off remaining sarcoma cells.” [R]

Cancer Prevention Potential

Low levels of CoQ10 have been associated with up to a 53.3% higher risk of cancer and indicate a poor prognosis for various types of cancer [R]

CoQ10 plays a critical role in the protection of cell DNA and cell survival, both of which are strongly linked to cancer prevention and recurrence.

Powerful Antioxidant & Neuroprotectant

Antioxidants are necessary for neutralizing harmful compounds known as free radicals, which are created when cells undergo oxidation. Free radicals can promote cell death, mutate DNA, and damage cell membranes. CoQ10 may help to eliminate free radicals and prevent the damage they can cause. Some studies even suggest that CoQ10 may recharge other antioxidant compounds and nutrients.

Within mitochondria, coenzyme Q10 has been found to protect membrane proteins and DNA from the oxidative damage that accompanies lipid peroxidation and neutralize free radicals directly that contribute to nearly all age-related diseases (heart disease, cancer, diabetes, neurological disease, etc.). [R]

Protects Blood Vessels and Enhances Blood Flow

According to Nootropics Depot, one of the most popular companies that manufactures nootropics, CoQ10 can protect your blood vessels and enhance your blood flow. This is partly caused by preservation of nitric oxide, a signaling molecule that relaxes the arteries. This may improve overall circulation and cardiovascular health.

COQ10 can reduce the damage oxidized Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL) can do to blood vessels, as well as reduce plaque buildup in the arteries.


Mechanism of Action

How Does CoQ10 Work?

Coenzyme Q10 is vital for the proper transfer of electrons within the mitochondrial oxidative respiratory chain, whose main function is adenosine triphosphate production. Coenzyme Q10 also appears to increase adenosine triphosphate levels by preventing the loss of the adenine nucleotide pool from cardiac cells.4 Additionally, coenzyme Q10 has demonstrated activity in preventing lipid peroxidation as an antioxidant scavenger and an indirect stabilizer of calcium channels to decrease calcium overload.

Much of the basic research in support of coenzyme Q10 supplementation has focused on the CHF model. The myocardium of patients with CHF demonstrates increased oxidative stress as well as decreased concentrations of coenzyme Q10 as confirmed by tissue assays.8 These levels appear to correlate with CHF severity in the animal and human model, with coenzyme Q10 supplementation protecting against ischemia and reperfusion injury in animal studies.


Dosage

How To Take CoQ10?

The standard dose for CoQ10 is generally 90mg for a low dose and 200mg for the higher dose, taken once daily with a meal due to its reliance on food for absorption.

There generally isn’t too much of a therapeutic effect of CoQ10 supplementation (mostly taken with the ‘just in case’ mentality that pervades multivitamin supplementation), although for people who have previously experience a heart attack or damage to cardiac tissue as well as for people on statin therapy supplementation becomes much more important. CoQ10 supplements can be either the oxidized form (ubiquinone) or reduced form (ubiquinol) as both forms seem pretty equally potent in increasing circulating levels of total CoQ10 in the body. ‘Total CoQ10’ refers to the sum of both forms, since CoQ10 can readily swap between forms as it acts in the body. – Examine.com


Frequently Asked Questions

What is CoQ10?

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a natural antioxidant synthesized by the body, found in many foods, and available as a supplement. It comes in two forms: ubiquinol, the active antioxidant form, and ubiquinone, the oxidized form, which the body partially converts to ubiquinol. Many multi-ingredient supplements contain both forms of CoQ10. In general, coenzymes support enzymes in their various biochemical functions. CoQ10 is a vital participant in the chain of metabolic chemical reactions that generate energy within cells. It is found in every cell of the body (the name ubiquinone stems from its ubiquity), but is present in higher concentrations in organs with higher energy requirements such as the kidneys, liver, and heart. Many medical studies demonstrate CoQ10 benefits when taken as a supplement, most of which stem from its vital role in oxygen utilization and energy production, particularly in heart muscle cells.

Why is CoQ10 necessary?

Coenzyme Q10 is beneficial for heart health in many ways. It assists in maintaining the normal oxidative state of LDL cholesterol, helps assure circulatory health, and supports optimal functioning of the heart muscle. CoQ10 may also help support the health of vessel walls. In addition, Coenzyme Q10 may play a role in reducing the number and severity of migraine headaches, and improving sperm motility in men. Some research has indicated therapeutic value in high doses to slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease, but a 2011 study by the National Institute for Neurological Disease and Stroke found no benefit in slowing symptoms or neural degeneration. A few small clinical trials have indicated CoQ10 supplementation may help prevent and treat inflamed gums, a condition known as gingivitis.

What are the signs of a Coenzyme Q10 deficiency?

Studies in both animals and humans have associated significantly decreased levels of CoQ10 with a wide variety of diseases. Since this enzyme is found in high concentration in heart muscle cells, deficiency has been associated with cardiovascular problems including angina, arrhythmia, heart failure and high blood pressure. Problems with blood sugar regulation, gingival (gum) health, and stomach ulcers have also been associated with CoQ10 deficiency. Those who are taking statins to lower cholesterol are at particular risk for deficiency, because not only do statins reduce cholesterol levels, but they also block CoQ10 synthesis in the body. Low CoQ10 levels in patients on statins can contribute to the common side effects of statin therapy such as fatigue and aching joints and muscles.

How much, and what kind of Coenzyme Q10, does an adult need?

There is no official Daily Value recommendation, but its suggested at least 90 to 120 mg of supplemental CoQ10 for any adult taking statin medications and for those with a family history of heart problems, or who is at increased risk for cardiovascular disease. This dosage is also appropriate for otherwise healthy men and women as a preventive measure and to help maintain a healthy cardiovascular system. CoQ10 is fat-soluble, so take the supplement with a meal containing fat. Seek out the soft-gel ubiquinol form when taking CoQ10 as a standalone supplement, as this has greater antioxidant efficiency than the ubiquinone form.

Is COQ10 harmful?

Of course not! The coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is vital for human metabolism, and is best known for its roles in glucose and fatty acid conversion to ATP, the form of energy used to power most body functions and as a powerful antioxidant in cells, inhibiting lipid peroxidation in cell membranes, DNA and low-density lipoproteins (LDL). Studies show that when taken daily, CoQ10 supplements are capable of significantly reducing oxidative damage. Also note that CoQ10’s levels in skin decline with age, which may also make your skin more susceptible to oxidative damage. The key thing that impacts the effectiveness of CoQ10 supplements is that many of them have relatively poor bioavailability due to limited solubility. Thus, it is helpful to go for solubilized forms of CoQ10 which allow for 90-100 percent of dissolution, and which have been improved absorption.

Summary: Acetyl-L-Carnitine is a popular multi-functional nutrient, amino acid type nootropic. It benefits the body and brain. A potent antioxidant and neuroprotectant, and a powerful energizing nootropic that promotes anti-aging and longevity.


Introduction

What is Acetyl L-Carnitine?

Acetyl-L-Carnitine, also known as ALCAR and ALC, is an amino acid naturally produced in your body to generate energy. It’s also found in animal proteins such as red meats. Many people supplement with acetyl-L-carnitine because of its potential benefits. Acetyl-L-Carnitine is a more bioavailable form of amino acid l-carnitine, a derivative of amino acid lysine. The body continuously produces L-carnitine, and furthermore gets it from the foods you eat.

Although research shows actual carnitine insufficiency is uncommon in healthy people with no metabolic disorders, supplementation with addition of it is proven to be beneficial in many different ways. Ranging from improving heart health [1] to enhancing brain function. [2]

Acetyl-L-Carnitine is L-carnitine with the addition of an acetyl group, thereby making it the most bioavailable form of L-carnitine and it readily crosses the blood-brain barrier. Its primary actions work towards brain functionality. Its nootropic properties seem to magnify when taken with other nootropics. The combination makes it a potentiating agent allowing nootropics to work more effectively.

Other forms of L-carnitine include L-carnitine L-tartrate (LCLT) which is typically assessing physical performance, and Glycine Propionyl L-carnitine (GPLC), which relieves blood flow issues. The only L-carnitine form that possesses nootropic properties is Acetyl L-carnitine, and it furthermore provides both L-carnitine and acetyl groups (molecule) that act towards the development of the learning neurotransmitter, acetylcholine.


Benefits & Effects

What Are Acetyl-L-Carnitine Benefits?

  1. Enhances Brain Function and Stamina
  2. Provides Neuroprotection Against Brain Cell Death
  3. Restores Cognitive Function and Repairs Impairment
  4. Support Mitochondrial Function and Nervous System
  5. Regulates Sexual Infertility and Erectile Dysfunction

Supporting research:

Research proves ALCAR beneficial to the brain and body in many ways. From enhancing cognitive abilities (R) to increasing energy (R), reducing pain, and even preventing damage from alcohol consumption. (R)

Enhances Brain Function and Stamina

Studies show that it successfully lowers mental exhaustion and improves cognitive function as well as learning capability. In a placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blind, 2-phase study, 66 participants with fatigue were given 2 g of L-carnitine once a day. By the end of the study, the group taking L-carnitine showed significant improvements in physical fatigue, mental fatigue, fatigue severity amongst other physical enhancements, as compared to those receiving a placebo.

Moreover, the study confirms that oral supplementation of L-carnitine reduces the total of fat mass, increases muscular mass, increases capacity for physical and cognitive activity, improves cognitive functions, all while reducing fatigue as well. (R)

Provides Neuroprotection Against Brain Cell Death

Due to its potent antioxidant attributes, ALCAR acts as a neuroprotectant, blocking and restoring damage from free radicals that injure brain cells. It also helps the brain clear itself of other toxins and decreases cell death due to excitotoxicity, a neurotic process that triggers by the over-activation of glutamate receptors. It enhances the neural network by stimulating nerves and signal receptors and additionally protects the brain against the damaging influences of drinking alcohol. (R)

Restores Cognitive Function and Repairs Impairment

One of Acetyl-L-Carnitine’ many exciting prospects is as a treatment for age-related neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease. It has been confirmed to dramatically slow decline in Alzheimer’s patients and decreases age-related recall failure. Other studies showed that ALCAR supports repair ambulatory capability in the elderly and functions as a mood lifter as well as working as an anti-depressant in the elderly. (R)

Support Mitochondrial Function and Nervous System

ALCAR promotes mitochondrial function and serves to support the nervous system overall performance. Especially in the case where an individual is subject to neurodegenerative disease. It can be of significant benefit to people with physical disorders typically correlated with aging, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. It has shown to be efficient in managing nerve pain, enhancing kidney function, and improving heart health. (R) (R)

Regulates Sexual Infertility and Erectile Dysfunction

ALCAR regulates men’s infertility and improves signs of andropause and erectile dysfunction. It is also in use to fight Peyronie’s disease, an inflammatory disease that affects the penis. (R) (R) Additionally, it is under clinical trials as a possible treatment for chronic fatigue.


Mechanism of Action

How Does Acetyl-L-Carnitine Work?

ALCAR synthesizes primarily in the liver and kidneys, after which it travels to other tissues. ALCAR has excellent bioavailability. The gastrointestinal tract quickly digests it. Its actions differ considerably from other forms of L-carnitine, which don’t cross the blood-brain barrier. The acetyl groups that make ALCAR unique, enable it to cross the blood-brain barrier readily and rapidly. Its most effective role is within the cerebellum.

Another one of ALCAR’s nootropic benefits involves the acetyl groups, which produce the support for the synthesis of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Often referred to as “the learning neurotransmitter,” acetylcholine is accountable for learning, memory, and cognitive function. Increased levels of acetylcholine result in an improvement in cognitive function, and low levels of that essential neurotransmitter risks neurological complications similar to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Acetyl-L-Carnitine on Neurotransmitters

ALCAR resumes showing increasing levels of norepinephrine and serotonin. They are vital neurotransmitters that play an essential part in mood and brain function. The capacity to improve neurotransmitter production is one of the principal techniques that ALCAR complements nootropics attributes. Similar to those of the racetams, which enhance the action of neurotransmitter receptors in the cerebellum.

Moreover, ALCAR targets brain metabolism, promoting cellular energy and serving as a potent neuroprotectant. Its critical antioxidant qualities combat the impressions of cellular oxidation. It further decreases the number of damaged cells in an individual brain, thereby becoming a useful longevity tool.

Damaged fat cells identified as lipofuscin (age spots) also happen in the brain and are actively correlated amidst age-related neurological dysfunctions, lack of energy, and weak memory. By supporting the brain excrete those damaged cells. ALCAR increases brain function and significantly lessens the risk of neurodegenerative disorders. It has also been shown to limit brain deterioration during times of stress.

Dosage

How to Take Acetyl-L-Carnitine?

Typical ALCAR dosage is 500 mg per day once in the morning, and up to 1,500 mg split into three doses of 500 mg. From there, adjust dosage to your need without exceeding 1,500 mg. At least not during trial period. It is water-soluble, therefore it can be taken with or without food. However, taking ALCAR late in the evening can result in disruption of sleep.

Recommended ALCAR dosage, active amounts, other details:

“The standard dose for L-carnitine is between 500-2,000mg. There are various forms of carnitine supplementation available.Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR) is used for cognitive enhancement. L-Carnitine L-Tartrate (LCLT) is typically used for physical performance and power output. Glycine Propionyl L-Carnitine (GPLC) is used to alleviate intermittent claudication and blood flow issues. L-carnitine is supplemented daily. The equivalent dosage range for other forms of L-carnitine are as follows: 630-2,500mg (ALCAR), 1,000-4,000mg (LCLT) and 1,000-4,000mg (GPLC).” – Examine.com

Side Effects

What Are Acetyl-L-Carnitine Side Effects?

  1. Side effects are uncommon. If they occur, it is usually in in the cases of consuming high doses before allowing the body to adapt to the additional amount of Acetyl-L-Carnitine that it is receiving.
  2. Nausea is the most common side effect. It is easily preventable by taking ALCAR alongside food rather than on an empty stomach.
  3. Headaches are the second most common side effect, which may imply an excessive amounts of choline.
  4. Users report that headaches from ALCAR use decrease when they reduce the amount of choline in their stacks and diets.


User Experiences

Reddit User Experience

To be fair in sharing the Reddit community experiences, I will add the first 3 that I see whether the experience is positive or negative. Three Acetyl-L-Carnitine reddit experiences:

First:

“As the title says, it’s been a game changer. Old stack was: Citicoline 300mg b.id with centrophenoxine 350mg one to two times daily. Switched Centro to ALCAR 500 one daily just to try and damn it’s been really good. Mornings are good, everything is really clear. Honestly this feels a lot like amphetamine. So much so that I cancelled my pdoc appt to get a refill. I was basically off the meds but wanted to have a few around but now I really don’t think I need them. Very glad people on here have posted about alcar before!” skibenz

Second:

“Funny enough I get a stronger response from ALCAR then I do racetams in regards to mental performance. It seems to make me really smart. Your mileage may vary though. To OP: I get results in a day. Be careful for not overdoing it. I’ve posted before that acetylcholine overload tends to make you depressed and function worse.” eastmangobo

Third:

“I have been taking Acetyl for about 17 years. For the last 2 yrs or so it has affected me less and less (no idea why) but before that, I noticed a MASSIVE positive boost from taking it. I experienced a huge uptick in word retrieval and overall brain function. used to always say that when I took Acetyl, it was like an electric switch was turned on, as that’s what it felt like … electric..I always bought it in bulk powder and almost always used 1 gram in my morning shake (180lb Male). DO NOT use it after noon …. you will NOT sleep !!!! You should notice a difference within 3-4 days. As I did mention, I am noticing now that I am affected by Acetyl less and less. If I miss a few days, I don’t really notice it like I did years ago and I don’t really get that electric charge feeling. I don’t know why this is, as I’ve purchased a few different brands.” Gernan_Mafia

Conclusion

ALCAR is an outstanding amino acid nootropic. It offers many benefits to both the body and the brain. In addition to its potent  brain boosting effect, it is also a healthy nutrient. Acetyl-L-Carnitine is safe, affordable, very tolerable, and easily accessible in department and drug stores. It enhances cognitive function, supports ant-aging and longevity, which makes it a nootropic worth adding to any stack.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between L-Carnitine L-Tartrate, L-Carnitine Tartrate, and Acetyl L-Carnitine?

L-Carnitine L-Tartrate and L-Carnitine Tartrate are the same thing, they just truncate the L-Tartrate for brevity. This is the form of L-Carnitine that is in supplements that some studies have linked to possibly helping recover times from work outs (specifically it was shown that people taking L-carnitine had less damage to their leg muscles after a workout versus people that weren’t taking it), there weren’t any other observations of it’s added use outside of that.
Acetylcarnitine is an alternative form of l-carnitine for supplementation that has been pushed because of it’s bioavailability. The downside is that it’s less concentrated in the bloodstream after digestion. It doesn’t appear that any studies have been performed linking acetylcarnitine to exercise performance, but it’s only proven use has been in increasing sperm mobility. A few proposals have set out to use it treat neurological conditions, but none have yet been proven.

Can I take 5-HTP and Acetyl L-Carnitine together?

To date there has been no evidence that either counteract the other or have negative effects. Both substances are great for many aspects of brain health. You can be pretty safe in the assumption that it’s worth testing out for yourself to see how you react to this combination.

Can I take acetyl-l-carnitine & taurine together with antidepressants, antipsychotics and NAC?

They don’t interact, in fact, Acetyl-L-Carnitine is used as “complementary” therapy along with Psych Meds. Taurine is as well. Taurine is also VERY much so present in Energy Drinks like Red Bull & Monster. It is responsible for much of the “kick” and focus Energy Drinks give us.

Further and Related Readings

  1. N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine (NALT), L-Theanine, N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC), Agmatine Sulfate
  2. The Ultimate Nootropics FAQ