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Can a Pill Stop Brain Decay? Yes, Says New Research

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As you age, tiny energy factories, called mitochondria, in your brain cells become damaged and dysfunctional, largely due to years of attacks by oxygen free radical chemicals.

Scientists call this process “mitochondrial decay,” and regard it as a major cause of age-related memory decline, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS and other neurodegenerative disorders.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if there was a pill to help prevent or even reverse brain cell decay? There is, according to accumulating evidence. It is an amino acid called acetyl-L-carnitine or ALC. Exciting new research confirms previous studies showing that ALC can protect brain cells from neurotoxicity and death, reduce mitochondrial decay and dramatically rejuvenate mental and physical functioning in animals–in short, slow or reverse brain aging.

The latest: Taking ALC might act as an antidote to brain damage from oxygen deprivation in the event of a stroke, suggests new Italian research. And University of Kentucky researchers have figured out exactly how feeding animals ALC protects brain cells from toxic beta-amyloid, a key villain in Alzheimer’s disease. Thus, ALC may be a possible treatment for Alzheimer’s, they conclude.

Indeed, a recent review of the evidence by British investigators showed that taking ALC improved memory and overall mental functioning in people with mild cognitive impairment and early Alzheimer’s. Studies also show ALC may be beneficial for those with chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetic neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, and mild depression.

“The mind-boosting effect of acetyl-L-carnitine is often noticed within a few hours, or even within an hour,” says Ray Sahelian, M.D., a California doctor and expert on the subject. “Most people report feeling mentally sharper, having more focus and being more alert. Some find a mild mood enhancement…The typical dosage is 250 mg  to 500 mg once a day, preferably in the early part of the day.” Dr. Sahelian says over-stimulation may occur at higher doses.

Leading researchers on ALC, such as Tory Hagen at the Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University, also find that combining ALC with the antioxidant alpha lipoic acid produces even greater benefits in revitalizing elderly animals both mentally and physically. “It’s amazing how young they look and act,” Hagen says.

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