Macular Degeneration and Acetyl-L-carnitine

Macular Degeneration is a condition in which the central part of the back of the eye loses blood circulation.  It is considered a natural aging process.  There is a breakdown of retinal pigment epithelium cells in the macular region.  As the disease progresses, central vision diminishes.  It is believed that this breakdown may be due to a lack of nutrients being supplied to the region. Additional studies have found a genetic link to this disease.  Treatment can range from better nutritional management, sometimes to include a tablet containing the primary minerals and vitamins that are found lacking in many macular degenerated patients.

According to the American Health Assistance Foundation, macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in Americans 60 years of age and older. The disease may destroy your sharp, fine-detail, “straight ahead” vision required to do tasks such as reading and driving. Acetyl-L-carnitine alone or in combination with other nutritional supplements may reduce the risk of a person developing macular degeneration. Speak to your doctor before using acetyl-L-carnitine supplements for any health problems.

Acetyl-L-carnitine, one of the many forms of carnitine, is found naturally in your body. The nutrient transports fatty acids to cells’ mitochondria for the generation of metabolic energy. The antioxidant property of acetyl-L-carnitine may protect the eye’s retina from free radical damage. Free radicals are the damaging compounds in your body that may even cause cell death.

A study conducted by Italian researchers and published in May 2005 in “Ophthalmologica” found that supplementation with a proprietary blend of 200 mg acetyl-L-carnitine, 780 mg omega-3 fatty acids and 20 mg coenzyme Q10 daily may improve and subsequently stabilize visual functions in patients affected by early age-related macular degeneration. This double-blind, placebo-controlled study was conducted for 12 months in 106 patients with macular degeneration. According to researchers, this combination of nutrients may also improve the area of the eye’s fundus covered by drusen, yellow or white deposits in the retina of the eye

Metabolic therapy, a combination of omega-3 fatty acids, coenzyme Q10 and acetyl-L-carnitine may be the first choice for treating age-related macular degeneration, according to a Hungarian study published in December 2007. According to researchers, both clinical visual field and visual acuity in people with macular degeneration may show improvement after three or four days of treatment with this metabolic therapy. The efficacy of this combination of nutrients has been proved clinically.

Acetyl-L-carnitine supplements have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for safety and purity. Over-the-counter acetyl-L-carnitine supplements may cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps. A study published in June-July 2011 in “Revue Neurologique” found that acetyl-L-carnitine treatment may cause side effects such as diarrhea and fish odor syndrome, a genetic disorder associated with an offensive body odor.

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