ALCAR/ALA Stack: Benefits and Side Effects

ALCAR and ALA can help combat the effects of aging on the brain.

When studying nootropics, you will discover that these supplements have several nuances. You can educate yourself thoroughly on the exact mechanisms of pretty much every available compound, trial them individually, and still barely scratch the surface of smart drug supplementation.

The reason?

Nootropic stacks, or cross-nootropic potentiation. Basically, combine any two or more substances, and you’re going to see effects that go above and beyond what you’d simply expect from one or the other.

Nootropics are complex substances, and the brain is a complex piece of biological machinery. The more compounds you’re ingesting at the same time, the better the chances that you’re going to trigger some unexpected effect.

ALCAR/ALA Benefits

This combination is the concept behind recent trials which suggest that combining ALCAR (acetyl l-carnitine powder) and ALA (alpha lipoic acid) could have dramatically boosted benefits for health and cognition. The short version? ALA enhances ALCAR, and ALCAR benefits ALA; together, they do much more than if they were taken individually. They benefit cellular health, muscle maintenance, and cognition. Long version? There’s a bit more science behind it, and it’s grounded in a recent study that demonstrated that aging rats that ingested ALA and ALCAR apparently recovered the vitality they had in their youth [1].

ALCAR and ALA, while effective, are not the fabled Fountain of Youth.

To understand why this combination works, what it means for you, and why you aren’t going to be sprinting to the drug store to buy yourself Fountain-of-Youth-in-a-Bottle (active ingredients: ALA and ALCAR) any time soon, it’s crucial to first look at the ways the two drugs function individually.

ALCAR is a form of acetyl carnitine which is synthesized to be more bioavailable, or easily used by the body [2]. A lot of ALCAR’s benefits come from its function as an antioxidant. Essentially, “antioxidant” means that ALCAR removes free radicals. Free radicals are the excess waste produced by your cell’s mitochondria (or powerhouses).

Over time, free radicals weaken your cells. ALCAR benefits you by working sort of like a cellular policeman, rounding up free radicals, giving you healthier, more efficient cells. This effect gives you a broad range of benefits: your joints aren’t as creaky, your cuts and scrapes heal faster, your brain functions more efficiently — the list goes on [3]. So next time you’re feeling tired, try a spoonful of acetyl l-carnitine powder.

ALA is also an antioxidant. Notably, it’s both water and fat soluble, meaning it can take out free radicals throughout the body [4]. It doesn’t boast quite as wide-ranging a slew of benefits as ALCAR, and at casual glance might seem like a milder alternative.

Taking ALCAR and ALA together is where the magic happens. In the aforementioned study on aging rats, scientists saw a rapid turnaround in the dosed rats’ cellular health. The reason behind this? A profound antioxidative effect on the cells that went above that went far beyond what you’d anticipate from combining the two. The anti-aging effects were largely based on severely boosted metabolic functioning [5]. Many of the bodily functions typically slowed down by age sped back up.

ALCAR and ALA benefits found following clinical studies
ALCAR and ALA have been tested on rats and have shown promising benefits.

Additionally, another study found that the two together boost biogenesis of mitochondria, or the central powerhouse of your body’s cells. Basically, taken in combination, ALCAR and ALA act like a massive dose of vitality to your body’s cells. It’s also possible that ALA counteracts ALCAR’s (admittedly mild) pro-oxidant effects.

If you’re looking for a combination of two-already solid nootropics, look no further. The healthy cellular activity promoted by the two benefits the body in numerous ways, since cellular health is linked not only to muscle and tissue but to most neurotransmitters as well.

Lowered risk of heart damage, increased fertility, reduced anxiety — pretty much everything except for the anti-aging effects you’d hope for from the rats. While the two will make your cells much healthier, regaining functionality they might have lost over the decades, they won’t actually reverse your aging process.




David Johnson is a freelancer with an avid interest in supplements that help relax, enhance mood, and provide cognitive enhancement. Most days he can be found researching innovative ways to bring his readers sounder sleep, better moods, and more.