Alpha Lipoic Acid (aka lipoic acid and thioctic acid) is considered a “universal antioxidant” since it works in both water and fat. This means that alpha lipoic acid can penetrate fatty tissues of cells (ie neurons and the nervous system) as well as the part of cells made up of water (ie the heart, blood vessels) to protect them from free radical damage.
Some Basic Info on Alpha Lipoic Acid
Alpha lipoic acid is a fatty acid found naturally inside every cell in the human body. It converts glucose (blood sugar) into energy, allowing us to get the energy we require daily.
Alpha lipoic acid is made by the body and can be found in very small amounts in foods such as spinach, broccoli, peas, Brewer's yeast, Brussels sprouts, rice bran, and organ meats.
To get the benefits of alpha lipoic acid, get at least 300 to 400 mg per day.
Below we’ll go over some of the other alpha lipoic acid benefits and where it’s been used in disease treatment.
Benefits of Alpha Lipoic Acid
Aids in increased energy production and recovery, which is why endurance athletes use it.
Neutralizes both oxygen and nitrogen free radicals - the 2 most prevalent free radicals in the human body.
Regenerates other antioxidants, such as Vitamin C and glutathione. Additionally, prevents Vitamin C and Vitamin E deficiency.
Regulates blood sugar and the insulin response (great for diabetics). I read in The 4 Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss that ALA can aid in fat loss and increase muscular absorption of calories. In a nut shell, alpha lipoic acid does this by storing the carbohydrates to your muscles or liver instead of in fat. I supplement on ALA each day, but especially on the days I know I’m going to have a cheat meal or two.
Alpha Lipoic Acid and Disease Treatment
In several studies, alpha lipoic acid appears to help lower blood sugar levels. Its ability to kill free radicals may help people with diabetic peripheral neuropathy - which have pain, burning, itching, tingling, and numbness in arms and legs from nerve damage.
Taking alpha lipoic acid may help another diabetes-related condition called autonomic neuropathy, which affects the nerves to internal organs.
Brain Function and Stroke
Because alpha lipoic acid can pass easily into the brain, it may help protect the brain and nerve tissue. Researchers are investigating it as a potential treatment for stroke and other brain problems involving free radical damage, such as dementia.
Other diseases ALA may be used in the treatment of include:
- Reduces inflammation by inhibiting the NF-KB transcription gene
- Reduce the chances of cardiovascular disease
- Slows down the progression of multiple sclerosis
- May reduce the chance of neurodegenerative diseases (ie. Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s)
How Much To Get Daily
Get at least 300mg per day to get the full benefits of alpha lipoic acid. This is best achieved with supplementation.