Dementia Nutrition: Carnitine
Looking for better memory and vitality? Carnitine may help you keep those reserves at their best. So what is it? Simply put, it’s an amino acid derivative that transports fatty acids to be converted into energy. It can also flush out toxic compounds and prevent their accumulation. There are 4 different forms of carnitine; however, acetyl-L carnitine (ALC) appears the most in studies because of its superior ability to be absorbed and reach our brain.
As we age, the amount of carnitine in our tissues declines and is thought to contribute to memory and energy changes. Since in-vitro and animal studies have shown evidence of memory boosting nerve generation with ALC, intrigue remains for human comparisons. Promising results were found in a 2018 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Researchers investigated the efficacy of ALC in participants with dementia associated with cerebrovascular disease. Their results showed that compared to the placebo group, individuals supplemented with 1’500 mg/day of ALC had significantly improved cognitive functioning. Another study suggests that ALC serum levels have the potential to identify patients before the onset of Alzheimer’s disease; therefore, increasing the benefits of ALC treatment. While we await further studies on ALC and dementia, support may be provided in the way ALC supplementation can improve sleep and other conditions (eg. type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease), which are risk factors for developing dementia.
The highest concentrations of carnitine are naturally found in red meat, but if you’re vegetarian, smaller amounts can be found in dairy, white bread, asparagus, beans and avocados. Carnitine deficiency is rare; but depending on your unique health history and goals, supplementing with carnitine may be one of the puzzle pieces to keep you performing at your best.
What steps have you taken to improve your energy and memory?
Dr. Romi Fung, ND, M.Sc and Alaina King, M.Sc
Dr. Romi Fung, ND, M.Sc is a Naturopathic Physician practicing in Richmond, BC with clinical interests in working with patients living with dementia. Dr. Romi has completed additional training in the Bredesen Protocol for treating cognitive impairment, as well as graduate studies in Aging and Health. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D in Aging and Health from Queen's University and is an Adjunct Clinic Faculty at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine - Boucher Campus.
Alaina has a MSc in Aging & Health and is the owner of Grey Matters Tx. A registered professional Recreation Therapist and Certified Dementia Practitioner, Alaina has been working with older adults with dementia since 1998. In addition to Recreation Therapy, Alaina has worked in Community Patient Care Coordination and as a Staff Educator and Health & Safety Auditor in Long Term Care.
Medical Disclaimer: This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice, or delay in seeking it, because of something you have read on this post.
Pennisi, M., et al. (2020). Acetyl-L-Carnitine in Dementia and Other Cognitive Disorders: A Critical Update. Nutrients, 12(5), 1389. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12051389
Sergi, G., et al. (2017). Effects of acetyl-L-carnitine in Diabetic Neuropathy and Other Geriatric Disorders. Aging Clinical and Experimental Research, 30, 133-138. DOI: 10.1007/s40520-017-0770-3
Yang, Y., et al. (2018). A Multicentre, Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Clinical Trial for Efficacy of Acetyl-L-carnitine in Patients with Dementia Associated with Cerebrovascular Disease. Dementia Neurocognitive Disorders, 17(1), 1-10. DOI: 10.12779/dnd.2018.17.1.1.