Brain Health (General)
Acetyl L-Carnitine Arginate (ALCA)
ALCA is a patented type of carnitine, which appears to offer advantages over
traditional acetyl l-carnitine (ALC) . In one study acetyl-l-carnitine arginate
demonstrated potential support for maintaining healthy central nervous system
function by promoting healthy neurite function. Neurites are the hair-like projections
of neurons, or nervous system cells, responsible for proper signal transmission. The
acetyl group from acetyl-l-carnitine (ALC) is also responsible for production of
acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter for optimal mental functioning. The
efficacy of long-term acetyl-l-carnitine supplementation was investigated in a doubleblind,
placebo-controlled, randomized trial, in which acetyl-l-carnitine demonstrated
the ability to slow negative cognitive changes and supported memory and attention. A
randomised double-blind study and a multi-centre trial suggested that acetyl-l-carnitine
supplementation provided statistically significant support for mental function,
including memory and attention, and behavioural and emotional support. Researchers
have theorised that ALC can mimic acetyl-choline in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
In fact studies suggest that ALC may also act as an antioxidant in the brain, stabilise
cell membranes, aid the removal of cellular waste, improve energy production in brain
cells, as well as mimicking acetyl-choline. Studies report that early-onset Alzheimer’s
disease may respond most effectively to ALC.
This important phospholipid has been shown to improve memory and mental acuity in
both young and older adults. The effects are due to multiple functions including
enhancing cell membrane fluidity, increasing the number of acetylcholine receptors,
keeping fatty substances in the brain in a soluble state and helping to 'untangle' nerve
pathways in the brain.
Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)
DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, is one of the critical nutrients required by the brain
and the eyes during the crucial early stages of development. An ongoing adequate
supply of DHA is also necessary to properly care for the brain throughout life. This
omega-3 fatty acid is the primary building block of the brain. The brain is 60% fat,
and DHA is the most abundant fatty acid in the brain. It increases cellular
communication and the action of neurotransmitters. Studies suggest inadequate DHA
in the brain may be a factor in the development of depression, Alzheimers,
Parkinsonism and Attention Deficit Disorder(ADD).
This herb has been shown to increase cerebral blood flow, and therefore oxygen and
glucose utilisation in the brain. As well as improving vascular function in the brain,
studies have shown that Ginkgo biloba extract increases the rate at which information
is transmitted at the nerve cell level, an ability that is thought to be primarily due to a
positive influence on neurotransmitter function. Ginkgo has been shown to stimulate
choline uptake by the brain, inhibit age-related reduction of choline receptors and
provide antioxidant protection that prevents lipid peroxidation in the brain.
Clinical trials suggest that ginkgo extract improves short term memory, mental
alertness and overall cognitive performance.
Vitamin B12 & Folic Acid
These B vitamins are both methyl donors that play an important role in the
manufacture of neurotransmitters (e.g. serotonin and dopamine). Studies show that
deficiencies in these vitamins are associated with a decline in cognitive functioning,
particularly in the elderly.
Brain Health Summary
Nutrient/Herb Typical intake range
Acetyl L-Carnitine Arginate (ALCA)1 250 – 1000mg (away from food)
Phosphatidylserine2 100 – 300mg elemental PS per day
DHA 100 – 300mg per day
Ginkgo biloba extract (24% ginkgoflavoglycosides,
6% terpene lactones)3
60 – 180mg per day
Vitamin B12/Folic acid4 400ug each per day
Refined and processed foods
Nuts and seeds
Take regular gentle exercise
Reduce impact of stress - support adrenal function if necessary
1. Do not use during pregnancy or lactation unless under medical supervision.
2. Do not use if taking prescribed anti-coagulant drugs such as warfarin without the consent of a
qualified medical health practitioner.
3. Do not use during pregnancy or lactation. May decrease the action of Warfarin. Concurrent use
with insulin and oral hypoglycaemic medication under medical supervision only. Do not use with
4. Concurrent use with phenytoin and methotrexate, and in schizophrenia, and epileptics under
medical supervision only.