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Acetyl-l-carnitine may reduce depression

Doctors may have discovered a new biomarker for depression: acetyl-l-carnitine. The body naturally produces acetyl-carnitine, which attaches tags to DNA with instructions to turn specific genes on or off.

Doctors measured acetyl-l-carnitine levels in 71 adult men and women with major depressive disorder (MDD) and in 45 without and found acetyl-l-carnitine levels were lower in those with MDD. While there was no link to acetyl-l-carnitine in those with moderate MDD symptoms, those with severe MDD symptoms, and those diagnosed at a younger age, had lower levels of acetyl-l-carnitine.

Doctors separately reviewed nine depression studies covering 447 people and found that those who took acetyl-l-carnitine saw significantly reduced symptoms. In three of the studies that compared acetyl-l-carnitine to Prozac, Cymbalta, or Solian, acetyl-l-carnitine was as effective, with far fewer side effects.

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