could alpha lipoic acid and acetyl L-carnitine combine to form the Elixir of Life?
It’s a bit like a scene from a movie: the elderly scientist, working late in the lab, takes a sip of potion from a bubbling flask and undergoes a miraculous transformation as his body regains its youth and vigour. Pure fantasy? Maybe not – because that’s pretty much what happened to elderly laboratory rats when they were fed two dietary supplements in a recent landmark study. According to the professor in charge of the study, ‘the old rats became so full of energy, they got up and did the Macarena’! Over the last 18 months, scientific interest in alpha lipoic acid (ALA) and acetyl L-carnitine (ALC), the two supplements used in the studies, has exploded and a large number of studies are now under way with humans. Initial results look encouraging, but what are the implications for athletes – and can these nutrients be harnessed to improve performance? Some readers may be familiar with the amino acid carnitine, which carries fatty acids into the mitochondria (the cellular furnaces), where