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Review of Alpha Lipoic Acid and Acetyl-L-Carnitine for physical and mental health in aging adults; turning back the clock by restoring metabolism

May 29, 2008

Free radical damage to the mitochondria (the powerhouse of your cells) is a major cause of aging. This decay can be significantly reversed in laboratory animals by giving them a combination of Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR) and Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA) in high dosages. ALCAR is involved with brain energy and ALA is a mitochondrial antioxidant, and together they restore the speed and efficiency of mitochondrial function and energy production. Mobility, balance and ability to walk around freely and also brain power/cognitive function decline with age. Feeding old animals the combination of ALCAR with ALA for a few weeks increases ambulatory function (movement) and cognition, restores mitochondrial function, lowers the levels of free radicals, protects genetic material, and in short: helps reverse aging. A recent meta-analysis of 21 double-blinded clinical trials using ALCAR in the treatment of mild cognitive impairment and mild Alzheimer's disease showed significant efficacy (successful improvement) versus placebo. A meta-analysis of 4 clinical trials using ALA for treating diabetic neuropathy showed significant efficacy vs. a placebo. The review is published in the November 2004 Annals of the New York Academy of Science.

Carnosine useful in preventing muscle fatigue

Researchers at the University of Westminster in London state that high intensity exercise leads to a big drop in the muscle reserve of important energy substrates such as ATP and Glycogen. At the same time metabolites such as hydrogen ion and ADP accumulate in the muscle accompanying an increase in damaging-inflammatory free radical production. These factors affect muscle performance reducing the benefits of training sessions. Carnosine overcomes these factors and reduces muscle fatigue by buffering the hydrogen ion following a high intensity workout. Carnosine also functions as an antioxidant in the muscle decreasing local inflammation and pain in the muscle while regulating calcium and enzyme activity; this improves the rate of recuperation after intense physical activity. Additionally Carnosine helps prevent glycation and protein cross linking; otherwise these abnormal structures damage body tissues. The research appears in the October 2005 issue of the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.

L-Carnosine May Help Prevent Diabetes

Our muscles require and create L-Carnosine but until recently researchers did not understand the activities of L-Carnosine in the muscle. As it turns out, L-Carnosine has many very important functions. A recent study by these researchers showed that L-Carnosine reduced hyperglycemia (elevated blood sugar) caused by injecting sugar into mice. In this follow up study the researchers state that L-Carnosine is released from the muscles after exercise. This restores electrolyte function and improves recovery of the muscle. Part of Carnosine’s function is to reduce blood sugar benefiting the autonomic nervous system. Controlling blood sugar in this way improves insulin sensitivity and may help decrease metabolic syndrome. The research was conducted at the Division of Protein Metabolism, Institute for Protein Research, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan, and is published in the November 2003 issue of the journal Experimental Biology and Medicine.

Diabetics who break down L-Carnosine too quickly develop kidney failure

Diabetes is the leading cause of end-stage renal disease worldwide. This disease requires either a kidney transplant or kidney dialysis treatments for survival. A research team from Wake Forest University School of Medicine and the University of Heidelberg has found that diabetics that have a particular type of gene involved with the protective factor Carnosine do not develop kidney failure.

L-Carnosine is a protective factor shown to be active in the heart, liver, kidneys, brain, eyes, skin and likely other tissues. The Carnosinase 1 gene on human chromosome 18 is responsible for creating Carnosinase; the enzyme that degrades the protective factor L-Carnosine. In comparing this gene in 858 subjects including diabetics with end-stage kidney failure (294 patients), diabetics without kidney damage (258 patients) and healthy non-diabetics (306 people) it was found that those who break down L-Carnosine too quickly tend to develop kidney disease. L-Carnosine appears to prevent scarring from developing in the kidneys and serves as a scavenger of kidney damaging free radicals. The study is published in the January 5th, 2007 issue of the journal Nephrology, Dialysis, Transplantation.