What is Alpha Lipoic Acid?Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is a fatty acid that is naturally found inside every cell in the body. It is necessary to produce energy for the body’s everyday functions as it converts glucose into energy. ALA is also an antioxidant that works in both water and fat, unlike some other antioxidants. It can also recycle antioxidants such as vitamin C and glutathione after they have been used up by the body. Glutathione is an important antioxidant and ALA increases the formation of glutathione. It also enhances the antioxidant functions of vitamins C and E.
ALA directly supports detoxification within the liver. It can prevent cell damage, regulate blood sugar levels, chelate toxic metals from the blood, and enhance mental function and muscular energy production.
Sources of Alpha Lipoic AcidSources for ALA include the following:
- naturally made in the body
- Brewer’s yeast
- Brussels sprouts
- rice bran
- organ meats
Uses for Alpha Lipoic AcidALA has a number of uses in the body. These include:
• Peripheral neuropathy – ALA can improve symptoms of peripheral neuropathy as it works as an antioxidant in water and fatty tissues, allowing it to enter all parts of the nerve cell and protect it from damage.
• Brain function – because ALA can cross the blood-brain barrier, its antioxidant qualities protect brain and nerve tissues from damage.
• Age related conditions – because of its potent antioxidant qualities, ALA is excellent for protecting from free radical damage that contributes to aging and chronic illness.
• Diabetes – ALA can be used to reduce the pain, burning, parasthesia, and numbness associated with diabetic neuropathy, to increase glucose transport, and to improve cardiovascular function.
• Weight loss – research has shown that ALA may have benefits in controlling appetite, weight, and metabolism. ALA influences the activity of AMPK, an enzyme that plays an important role in regulating appetite and metabolism.
• Detoxification – ALA increases the production of glutathione, an antioxidant that plays a role in the detoxification and elimination of potential carcinogens and toxins. It is also a chelating agent, binding to heavy metals and assisting their removal from the body.
• Cardiovascular disease – ALA can protect against cardiovascular disease as it has a beneficial action on the oxidation of bad cholesterol, blood lipid profiles, plaque formation, and high blood pressure.
• Cognitive decline – because ALA can easily cross the blood-brain barrier, it may have an effect on improving memory and slowing age-related cognitive decline.
• Liver disease – ALA can help with the treatment of chronic hepatitis as it relieves stress on the liver and helps to rid the body of toxins.
Alpha-lipoic acid was discovered in 1951, and has long been recognized as a coenzyme needed to break down sugar for energy production. It was not until 1988 that researchers realized that not only is alpha-lipoic acid itself a potent antioxidant, but the body converts some of it to dihydrolipoic acid, which posesses even greater antioxidant properties.
The body is capable of making some alpha-lipoic acid, but it has been shown that it is unable to make enough to exercise its full antioxidant capabilities. Evidence suggests that the amount synthesized by the body is only adequate for metabolic function, and the additional that is needed for antioxidant protection must come from the diet or supplements.
Alpha-lipoic acid is both water and fat soluble, providing antioxidant protection inside the cell wall, as well as in the intracellular spaces. Therapeutic dosages (600 mg) have been routinely used in European clinics for years.