The Short Answer:
They are two different forms of the same Amino Acid, but they work differently. The L-Carnitine helps the body convert fat into energy, so it’s typically used by people who are exercising and/or trying to lose weight. The Acetyl L-Carnitine is essentially a processed form of L-Carnitine that can pass the blood-brain barrier to help energize the brain.
The Robust Answer:
Acetyl L-Carnitine is the preferred form of Carnitine for brain and nerve support because the acetyl group enables the molecule to cross the blood-brain barrier more easily and may also provide substrate (acetyl groups) for synthesis of acetylcholine—a primary neurotransmitter in the brain.
In general, though, the various forms of carnitine which are available (Acetyl l-Carnitine, l-Carnitine Fumarate, GPLC, l-Carnitine Tartrate, ArginoCarn) will provide support for nervous system, cardiovascular system and muscles; even though a specific form may be preferred for a particular function, you’ll still get general support for all functions regardless of the form used. Regular L-Carnitine is often used to support weight loss (along with diet and exercise of course) and enhancement for body-building since it helps to mobilize fat from storage deposits and move it to the mitochondria to burn as energy.
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The Short Answer: