Acetyl-L-Carnitine Deficiency and Mood


Summary: Acetyl-L-carnitine levels in the blood may be a useful indicator of the presence and severity of a person’s mood state.


Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) is a molecule that the body produces naturally and is important for proper mitochondrial function and energy metabolism. It aids in the transportation of fatty acids inside the mitochondria. Because of this mitochondrial support, ALC is a key ingredient in Mito2Max® Energy & Stamina Complex.1 In addition to mitochondrial health, studies show that ALC is related to the function of the brain and is an important component to overall mental health.2 This understanding has led to an interest in studying ALC in humans. Current research now suggests that ALC levels in humans may be a novel indicator of mental health.


Poor mood is particularly difficult to measure. There is a collection of characteristics that have been associated with a poor mood state, such as feelings of sadness, loss of interest in normal activities, sleep disturbances, fatigue, and reduced appetite. These may help physicians characterize poor mood, but it is useful to have a measurable indicator. One type of measurable indicator is referred to in healthcare as a biomarker. The lack of well-documented biomarkers associated with mood states is currently one of the major barriers to effective care.3 Expanding on previous research, scientists at Rockefeller University decided to evaluate ALC levels in humans in search of a potential biomarker for mood.


In a translational study that utilized data from multiple research institutions, scientists analyzed blood samples of people with poor mood and performed a comparative analysis with other subjects of the same age. They discovered that ALC levels were significantly lower in people with poor mood. A secondary analysis of those with a range in mood showed that the degree of their mood was reflected in their ALC levels.3


These findings suggest that ALC may have potential as a biomarker used to better understand mental health. Of particular interest, ALC may be able to indicate the degree of a person’s mood state. There is much more research that needs to be done before this model can be applied to everyone, but research like this suggests that one day a physician may be able to accurately assess a person’s mental state by simply performing a blood draw. 


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doTERRA Science blog articles are based on a variety of scientific sources. Many of the referenced studies are preliminary and further research is needed to gain greater understanding of the findings. Some articles offer multiple views on general health topics and are not the official position of doTERRA. Consult your healthcare provider before making changes to diet or exercise.


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