Known as the "universal antioxidant" alpha-lipoic acid is a powerful vitamin-like compound found in every cell of the body.
Produced inside the mitochondria, alpha-lipoic acid or ALA supports the cell in breaking down nutrients and converting them into energy for normal bodily processes.
Besides playing an essential role in "mitochondrial bioenergetic reactions," ALA is known to be a potent antioxidant and a free radical scavenger which boosts the "antioxidant defense system" as well as "quenches reactive oxygen species, chelates metal ions, and reduces the oxidized forms of other antioxidants."
The role of antioxidants is to attack "free radicals," byproduct waste created when the body converts food into energy. Free radicals cause destructive chemical reactions that can damage organs, tissues, and cells, causing inflammation, reducing immunity and leading to serious health problems.
Unlike some antioxidants which are only water-soluble (vitamin C), or fat-soluble (vitamin E), what makes ALA unique is its ability to be both fat and water-soluble. This means that it can literally assist and benefit every cell and tissue in the human body. Furthermore, ALA also helps in regenerating other antioxidants to fight free radicals.
In this post, we'll discover the top 8 benefits of alpha lipoic acid and why you may want to incorporate this essential nutrient into your daily supplement routine.
Table of Contents
- How Alpha Lipoic Acid Benefits The Body
- Sources of Alpha Lipoic Acid
- Top Alpha Lipoic Acid Benefits
- Alpha Lipoic Acid for Eyes
- Alpha Lipoic Acid for Diabetes
- Alpha Lipoic Acid for Nerve Pain
- Alpha Lipoic Acid for Skin
- Alpha Lipoic Acid for Detoxification
- Alpha Lipoic Acid for Weight Loss
- Alpha Lipoic Acid for Heart Health
- Alpha Lipoic Acid for Brain Health
- Alpha Lipoic Acid Side Effects
- How to Buy Alpha Lipoic Acid Supplements
- Key Takeaways
How Alpha Lipoic Acid Benefits The Body
The strong antioxidant properties of alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) has shown to have incredible benefits which include improving cholesterol, reducing blood glucose, decreasing inflammation, promoting weight loss, and detoxifying the body.
Damaged mitochondria may often be the first signs of a developing health condition and alpha lipoic acid can help to defend these "powerhouses" from damage caused due to oxidative stress.
Many practitioners use ALA to treat nerve-related pain, diabetes and eye conditions worsened by poor blood glucose levels.
However, due to its powerful antioxidant properties and ability to combat free radicals, ALA also helps to reduce inflammation, promote heart health, support other vitamins, reduce cellular damage, and more.
Here are a few ways alpha lipoic acid benefits the body:
- Supports eye health
- Promotes weight loss
- Improves metabolic activity
- Combats premature aging
- Lowers blood pressure
- Regulates cholesterol
- Detoxifies and eliminates toxins
Sources of Alpha Lipoic Acid
You can benefit from the potent antioxidants found in ALA from both meat and vegetable sources.
Some key sources of alpha lipoic acid include:
- Red meat
- Organ meat (liver, kidneys, heart)
- Yams and potatoes
- Carrots and beets
- Rice bran
- Brussel sprouts
- Brewer's yeast
It's important to note that although the body produces alpha-lipoic acid, it only produces it in small quantities, and this too reduces with aging.
Research shows that "unlike lipoic acid in foods, lipoic acid in supplements is not bound to protein. Moreover, the amounts of lipoic acid available in dietary supplements (50-600 mg) are likely as much as 1,000 times greater than the amounts that could be obtained from the diet."
So, although you can consume ALA-rich foods, it is highly recommended to take alpha lipoic acid supplements to get the therapeutic amount your need to experience maximum benefit.
Next, we'll look at the top 8 benefits that alpha lipoic acid supplementation can provide.
Top Alpha Lipoic Acid Benefits
Alpha Lipoic Acid for Eyes
Oxidative stress caused by free radical damage can cause problems in all areas of the body, and this is true for the eyes as well.
Free radical damage especially affects aging adults and those with diabetes. Many practitioners actually recommend alpha lipoic acid to help control the progression of symptoms of eye-related conditions which include age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, retinal damage, glaucoma and more.
One study showed that ALA has "potential benefits for geographic atrophy in dry age-related macular degeneration as well as other eye diseases," when taken at the 600mg dose.
Research has shown that ALA is especially effective in treating diabetic retinopathy, a condition that occurs when poorly controlled blood-sugar levels damage the delicate blood vessels in the retina.
A study conducted on diabetic rats demonstrated that, "long-term administration of alpha-lipoic acid has beneficial effects on the development of diabetic retinopathy via inhibition of accumulation of oxidatively modified DNA and nitrotyrosine in the retina," and that ALA supplementation can potentially be used as an "adjunct therapy to help prevent vision loss in diabetic patients."
It's also important to note that as you age, your vision becomes more compromised, which is why it is important to eat an antioxidant-rich diet and consume nutrient-rich eye supplements to prevent the development and progression of degenerative eye disorders early on in life.
Alpha Lipoic Acid for Diabetes
Diabetes affects millions worldwide and is no less than a growing epidemic. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can cause cardiovascular problems, kidney disease, and even vision loss.
Alpha-lipoic acid has been shown to decrease resistance to insulin, stabilize blood sugar levels, and reduce the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy.
Studies on obese rats have shown that ALA can lower blood sugar by up to 64%.
Research also shows that "ALA supplementation among patients with metabolic diseases significantly decreased fasting glucose," by aiding in the elimination of fat accumulation in cells, promoting better insulation absorption.
ALA also helps reduce the risk of the complications associated with high blood sugar such as controlling the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy and the progression of diabetic neuropathy or nerve damage and numbness.
Another study also showed ALA's positive influence on diabetic neuropathy by concluding that ALA "is an effective drug in the treatment of diabetic distal sensory-motor neuropathy and its therapeutic effect is more effective in patients with good glycaemic control."
If you have diabetes, supplementing with ALA in therapeutic doses could be highly beneficial and is something you should consider talking to your health care practitioner about.
Alpha Lipoic Acid for Nerve Pain
For those who have nerve pain, the burning, shooting pain, tingling and numbness can be distressing to live with day-to-day. Studies have shown that alpha-lipoic acid can help to promote the healthy functioning of the nerves.
Studies have shown that ALA helps to slow down the progression of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) if caught early. CTS is caused by a pinched nerve in the wrist which can lead to pain and numbness. ALA has shown to be a "useful tool" in controlling symptoms.
In fact, taking 600 mg of ALA a month prior to surgery for CTS has shown to improve both "clinical and neurophysiologic outcomes after surgery."
Alpha lipoic acid's ability to kill free radicals can also alleviate symptoms for patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy who suffer from pain, numbness, burning and tingling due to nerve-related damage in the arms, legs, and feet.
Research showed that "an oral or intravenous alpha lipoic dose of at least 600 mg per day resulted in a 50% reduction" of symptoms for diabetic patients, as measured by the Total Symptom Score (TSS), and concluded that ALA "leads to a significant and clinically relevant reduction in neuropathic pain."
If you have carpal tunnel syndrome or diabetes-related nerve pain, ALA supplementation may help to alleviate symptoms.
Alpha Lipoic Acid for Skin
One of the first signs of oxidative stress is premature aging. This is why many health experts recommend eating a diet filled with rich antioxidant foods to prevent damage caused by free radicals and help you looking and feeling young.
Alpha lipoic acid has shown to absorb into the skin offering antioxidant protection against harsh ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
Due to its ability to raise levels of another key antioxidant, glutathione, it has shown promise as "a powerful anti-ageing agent."
Alpha Lipoic Acid for Detoxification
Research has shown that alpha lipoic acid "chelates" or binds to heavy metals such as mercury and iron that act as free radicals in the body causing harm to cells and tissues.
Due to its ability to chelate metal ions so that they cannot generate free radicals makes ALA a promising treatment for "neurodegenerative diseases and other chronic diseases in which metal-induced oxidative damage may play a pathogenic role."
Studies have shown that ALA also helps to increase levels of glutathione, an "intracellular antioxidant that also plays a role in the detoxification and elimination of potential carcinogens and toxins."
By helping to increase cellular glutathione levels, ALA supports "the mobilization and excretion of mercury" and decreases "cellular damage and neurotoxicity." This, in turn, helps to regulate the body's natural immune response and helps to combat illnesses such as diabetes and even HIV.
These studies suggest that ALA may potentially be used as an adjunct treatment against heavy metal toxicity.
Alpha Lipoic Acid for Weight Loss
Some promising research has shown that alpha lipoic acid may help in weight management and weight loss.
Alpha-lipoic acid is known to suppress the activity of the enzyme AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) in the hypothalamus area of the brain, which is known to increase the feeling of hunger.
A rodent study showed that Alpha-lipoic acid or alpha-LA "decreases hypothalamic AMPK activity and causes profound weight loss in rodents by reducing food intake and enhancing energy expenditure." The study concluded that ALA is helpful in exerting "anti-obesity effects by suppressing hypothalamic AMPK activity."
Suppressing AMPK activity also has another weight loss related benefit. Animal studies have shown that supplementing with ALA "increases energy expenditure" or the burning of more calories.
A human study demonstrated that ALA treatment "showed small, yet significant short-term weight loss compared with placebo."
Another study showed that "supplementation with ALA slightly but significantly decreased body weight and BMI."
Although more studies are needed to conclusively link ALA's role in weight loss, the findings so far show that it may have benefits in weight management.
Alpha Lipoic Acid for Heart Health
Did you know 1 person dies approximately every 30 seconds in the US from heart disease?
Research shows that the potent antioxidant properties of alpha lipoic acid can reduce inflammation, and decrease heart disease risk factors.
This is most likely due to ALA's ability to reduce oxidative stress by combating free radicals that are linked to cardiovascular disease.
ALA has also shown to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL or low-density lipoprotein) in adults with metabolic diseases, a group of ailments that happen together, such as high blood pressure and blood sugar, abdominal fat, and unfavorable cholesterol levels. Metabolic diseases are known to increase the risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
Furthermore, the antioxidant properties of ALA can improve endothelial dysfunction in adolescent diabetics. A condition of the inner lining of the arteries, endothelial dysfunction is known to increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases and "precedes the development of atherosclerosis," plaque build-up in the artery walls leading to a higher risk of heart attacks and stroke.
You may consider taking alpha-lipoic acid to reduce inflammation and improve cardiovascular health among other benefits.
Alpha Lipoic Acid for Brain Health
Alpha Lipoic acid has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, meaning it can penetrate into the brain and nervous system providing neuroprotective benefits.
Research has shown that free radical damage and oxidative stress play a key role in leading to memory loss as the brain ages.
Due to its strong antioxidant properties alpha lipoic acid has shown promise in curbing inflammation, slowing down memory loss, and preventing cognitive decline, helping to thwart the onset of diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
One study showed that 600mg of lipoic acid helped to considerably slow down the progression of mild dementia in 43 patients with the disease.
The same study also demonstrated that due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, lipoic acid may be a potential "neuroprotective treatment for Alzheimer's disease."
Although more research is needed in this area, ALA is already showing promise in improving and maintaining brain health.
Alpha Lipoic Acid Side Effects
Although alpha lipoic acid is mostly considered to be safe to consume, you should always consult with your health care practitioner before starting a new supplement, especially if you are currently taking other medications or are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Some side effects of ALA may include headache, nausea, vomiting, and itching.
Since ALA helps to reduce levels of blood glucose, for people with fluctuating blood sugar levels this may require an adjustment in their current medication dosage.
How to Buy Alpha Lipoic Acid Supplements
Although the body produces its own ALA, taking it as a supplement in your daily vitamin regimen can provide far greater therapeutic benefits in the improvement of health conditions.
When looking to buy alpha lipoic supplements look for ALA which is a 100% pure formula, and is not processed using chemical solvents.
At GoodLifeProvision our vegetarian safe ALA is the REAL DEAL containing no GMOs, is gluten-free and contains no added additives. Made in the USA!
Our unique formula contains 600mg ALA, the recommended daily dosage, which is 6 times more than a 100mg alpha lipoic acid capsule!
Why GoodLifeProvision Alpha Lipoic Acid?
- 100% pure formula
- No GMOs, Gluten-Free
- Vegetarian Safe
- Safety Sealed for Your Protection
- One per Day Formula
- Laboratory Tested
- Fanatical One-on-One Support
- Suitable for men & women
- Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is a potent antioxidant found in all cells of the human body
- ALA has shown to improve cholesterol, reduce blood glucose, decrease inflammation, promote weight loss, and detoxify the body
- Combating oxidative stress, ALA controls the progression of eye-related conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, retinal damage, glaucoma and more
- It can also decrease resistance to insulin, stabilize blood sugar levels, and reduce the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy
- ALA promotes the healthy functioning of the nerves and is shown to have neuroprotective effects
- It can also reduce the risk of heart disease, improve detoxification and promote weight loss
- Since the body produces only small amounts of ALA, which reduces with aging, it is highly recommended to take alpha lipoic acid supplements to get the therapeutic amount your body needs