I first learned of this indirect cholinergic action of ALCAR from reading this thread. Here’s my take on that article. Thanks to Chrono by the way, for writing that.
Nearly everywhere you look online someone is telling you to take choline with racetams.
I don’t think it’s needed as much as people think.
Chrono clarifies things a bit here:
We say that piracetam requires a “choline source,” when what we more precisely mean is that we need to increase production and release of acetylcholine (ACh) to compensate for the hippocampal ACh depletion that piracetam causes.
Aha! See? Supplemental choline may not be required, you may just need to increase production of ACh. If piracetam depletes ACh, anyone with a half a brain would think, “Oh, I need to supply my body with more choline, so I’ll supplement with it.” But there are downsides to this.
The cons of taking a choline source
- A certain amount of extracellular choline is required to even have an effect on ACh concentrations1
- A fair number of studies show that supplementing with choline doesn’t increase ACh2
- The extra choline in the brain is used up before it gets a chance to increase ACh2
- Choline supplementation usually results in a ACh spike, then a return to baseline2
- Anecdotally, myself and several others notice depression and/or tension headaches occurring with choline supplementation and it goes away upon ceasing choline.
- Take too much and you may start smelling like rotten fish
Fishy smells that might negatively affect your sex life?
Exogenous choline doesn’t increase ACh concentrations?
It only creates a temporary spike?
Chrono hit ’em with that scientific left hook to the body…
In the absence of neural or chemical stimulation, increasing the amount of choline in the brain will only provide a very small and short-lived spike in basal ACh release in the hippocampus and cortex 2. The fact that added choline does not result in increased basal ACh shows that there are many systems of regulation–activity dependence, phosphorylation, plasma-brain-CSF exchange, choline uptake transporters, and recycling system–which make choline supplementation alone an inefficient and possibly ineffective means.[emphasis mine]
You might be wasting your money on choline.
I know it seems like I’ve thrown choline under a bus and into a volcano, but it’s to bring some light to the fact that not everybody needs choline with a racetam. You have to try the racetam with and without.
But…racetams’ effect seem to come from them being being involved in the increase of ACh and improving it’s transport3
Well hell, what’s a nootroponaut to do then?
Enter ALCAR, the “indirect choline source.”
ALCAR stands for Acetyl-L-Carnitine or L-acetylcarnitine.
Guess LACAR sounded too funny to catch on.
So how can ALCAR be the great choline supplement killer?
Chrono…smash ’em again:
So, how might increasing availability of the acetyl moeity help us? The answer is in the equilibria of the coupled enzyme reaction above. […] However, the equilibrium of the ChAT reaction is greatly in favor of the products (Keq of 12.3 or 13.3); the vast majority of an added substrate will be converted into ACh. In other words, provided that CoA and choline are available, ALCAR should have a dose-dependent impact on amount of acetylcholine produced.
It’s becoming clearer that ALCAR may be a better synergist with racetams than choline. Read Chrono’s post for additional benefits I decided not to cram in here.
Alright, What should my ALCAR dosage be?
- 630mg-2500mg/day4: main dose range
- 315-500mg 2x/day: The “ease-in” dose. Stay in this range at first
- 4000mg/day: anecdotal recommended upper limit (below this amount, no excessive free radicals are produced)5,6,7
B) Be sure you are getting your Vitamin C, it’s needed so the body can convert L-carnitine to (ALCAR)8
Where to Buy ALCAR
My favorite place for purity and high quality is Nootropics Depot
Second favorite place:
Nootropics City ALCAR Capsules