How ALCAR helps build muscle

We’ve previously discussed the use of acetyl l-carnitine (ALCAR) for chronic hoof pain. This newsletter further discusses the potential benefits of ALCAR.

ALCAR has important functions, especially in regards to restoring muscle loss and limiting the negative effects of ageing. The losses of muscle and mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell) are fairly common in ageing.  Regaining muscle becomes challenging when you have the reduction of muscle cells, muscle cell robustness, and energy reduction associated with ageing and muscle loss.

Ideally, we need a strategy to:

regain muscle mass,

regain strength,

regain stamina as we age, and

reverse the degradation of the signaling pathways that help keeps our muscles robust.

ALCAR may be able to help us achieve these goals. If we can help the horse, we may be able to start an exercise program to build muscle and strength, instead of being hampered by exercise intolerance.


Over two decades ago, research was published that demonstrated that old rats that were fed ALCAR, increased their ambulatory activity and mitochondrial function, compared to old rats that were not fed ALCAR. Although the mechanisms weren’t known at the time, it was pretty interesting research.

A decade later, important research was published that showed ALCAR’s effect on the mitochondria. It reported that ALCAR supplementation:

Reversed the age-related decline of specific cofactors involved with energy usage within the cell

Partially reduced the decline of the anti-oxidant system within the cell

Promoted the development of a new mitochondrial population

With years of additional research, we now have a better understanding of the mechanisms involved.



So how does this affect our older horses?

Older horses face age-related declines, but also winters that can be brutal, resulting in weight loss, including muscle loss, as well as fat. In the springtime, an increase in caloric intake may not be enough to help them regain the body that they had the previous summer. The horse may still have exercise intolerance, and be exhausted from light work.

We previously discussed adding limiting amino acids to the diet, to ensure that there were adequate amino acids for use in protein production. The addition of ALCAR may be beneficial to:

Increase the number of mitochondria within the muscle cells

Restore the signaling pathways for muscle development and maintenance and

Decrease age-related fatigue

We do the best that we can do for our horses, especially our older horses. The addition of ALCAR may be just what the older horse needs.

Disclaimer: Statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition.

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