Alpha Lipoic Acid
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Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)

Alpha lipoic acid, also known as lipoic acid is a powerful, natural antioxidant (synthesised by the body) recognized as important in the therapy and prevention of a broad range of diseases. As well as being a powerful antioxidant, alpha lipoic acid helps the body use glucose, hence alpha lipoic acid's potential role in improving blood sugar control. Alpha lipoic acid reduces complications from a high sugar diet. Lipoic acid is readily absorbed from the diet or as a supplement. Lipoic Acid has a variety of benefits, particularly for diabetics.

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Alpha Lipoic Acid is able to deactivate both fat and water soluble free radicals and thereby protect both lipoproteins and membranes. No other single antioxidant can do this. This is due to the fact that ALA is the only antioxidant that is both fat and water soluble. This is important because this allows it access to all parts of the cell which gives it tremendous ability to trap free radicals wherever they may be. ALA increases insulin sensitivity and so is useful in diabetes treatment and prevention. It can help prevent glycemic related problems such as neuropathy and cataracts and be useful in treating glaucoma.

As a sulphur compound, alpha lipoic acid can bind and help eliminate heavy metals such as copper, iron, mercury and cadmium all potential risk factors for a wide range of degenerative diseases.

Benefits of Alpha Lipoic acid

Research in humans with lipoic acid is still incomplete. Currently, lipoic acid is believed to be effective against a variety of medical conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, Alzheimer's disease, and Huntington's disease. ALA crosses the blood/brain barrier to enter the brain and protect the cells directly.  ALA supplementation causes increased levels of Glutathione in the brain. Glutathione in turn protects the brain from free radical damage, and low levels of glutathione in the brain are associated with brain disorders such as stroke, dementia, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

Alpha Lipoic Acid speeds the removal of glucose (sugar) from the blood which accounts for the profound benefits seen by diabetics as well as its reputation for fat loss. ALA is also crucial for energy production. It helps break down sugar for the production of ATP, the fuel used by cells to keep the body running

Alpha Lipoic Acid as an Antioxidant

Lipoic acid can regenerate vitamin C from its oxidized form, dehydroascorbic acid. Lipoic acid can also potentially regenerate other antioxidants. Lipoic acid is the only antioxidant with the unique ability to regenerate/recycle itself, and other antioxidants such as vitamins C & E, so that they can continue destroying free radicals. Lipoic acid increases the levels of glutathione, a very important antioxidant normally found in our cells and responsible for mopping up all types of toxins and free radicals. Glutathione supplements, however, are not helpful since glutathione does not have the ability to cross cell membranes. Fortunately, both laboratory and animal studies have shown that lipoic acid can stimulate the production of this antioxidant. This is particularly important during periods of excessive stress or exposure to radiation or toxic substances. Lipoic acid also acts as a powerful antioxidant in the brain and is likely to protect brain cells from toxins.  20 to 100 mg appears a safe dosage range. Most studies have used 100 to 600 milligrams a day, but higher doses have also been studied. Generally considered safe up to 100 mg/day as an anti-oxidant. Since lipoic acid helps restore antioxidants, you may need less  vitamins C and E and other antioxidants when you take them along with lipoic  acid.

Free radicals are created continuously in the body and antioxidants form a network to battle them. The major antioxidants that makeup this network are vitamin E, vitamin C, glutathione, coenzyme Q10 and lipoic acid.  Of these super five, only lipoic acid can regenerate all the other antioxidants and itself.  ALA is the key antioxidant.

Mitochondria function

ALA helps protect the mitochondria and the genetic material (nucleus), DNA. As we age, mitochondrial function is impaired, possibly causing some of the adverse effects of aging. ALA works closely with vitamin C and E and some other antioxidants, "recycling" them and thus making them much more effective. Acetyl-L-carnitine is also involved in energy production in the mitochondria. Professor Ames (University of California, Berkeley) and his colleagues have found that high doses of ALA and acetyl-L-carnitine, in combination, enable elderly rats to function like younger ones. Of course, the same results may not occur in humans, so further research data is needed.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) (Logan & Wong, 2001)

Lipoic acid can also combat Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) (Logan & Wong, 2001).

Reference Sources 

Always consult your doctor. This site is for information purposes and does not prescribe products. Confirm all details with a specialist (see disclaimer).

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