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The Valuable Role of Alpha Lipoic Acid

ALAJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

Alpha lipoic acid, a water and fat soluble vitamin-like compound with antioxidant and antioxidant recycling properties, is produced in small amounts in the mitochondria of bodily cells. Not to be confused with omega-3 alpha linoleic acid, alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is a necessary coenzyme for the Krebs cycle, the sequence of chemical reactions by which all living cells produce energy. Thanks to its water and fat soluble qualities, ALA is widely known as a potent and effective metabolic antioxidant that is easily absorbed and transported into organs and bodily systems, where it offers free radical protection both inside and outside of cell structures. As an antioxidant recycler, ALA interacts in a complex process to reactivate other important antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, glutathione and CoQ10, thereby boosting the body’s ability to counteract free radicals.

In the U.S., the majority of ALA’s therapeutic benefits are seen to arise from its role as a powerful antioxidant, supporting healthy aging and organ function, as well as liver, cardiovascular, brain, skin and nervous system health. However, in Europe, ALA is used to treat and prevent complications associated with diabetes, such as diabetic retinopathy and symptoms of pain and numbness associated with peripheral neuropathy. As the development of cataracts is causally linked to oxidative damage in the lens, scientists continue to study the potential therapeutic use of ALA in preventing cataracts and the downstream cataract-related visual degeneration. Researchers have noted that ALA increases levels of glutathione, vitamins C and E and certain protective enzymes in the lens. This allows the body to more effectively scavenge and eliminate free radicals and reactive oxygen species, thereby supporting optimal visual health.

In clinical trials, researchers found a statistical correlation between insulin sensitivity and individual markers of inflammation and oxidative stress. While large clinical trials support the role of ALA in treating neuropathy, research also suggests that ALA may help improve insulin sensitivity, lower blood sugar, reduce blood lipids and improve blood vessel tone, largely due to its antioxidant capacity to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. Other studies have shown that ALA can enhance glucose uptake in insulin sensitive and insulin-resistant muscle tissue. Individuals with diabetes should check with their healthcare provider before taking ALA and should carefully monitor their blood glucose levels, particularly if insulin is required.

In addition to its role as an effective antioxidant, ALA demonstrates a wide array of unique properties. ALA is able to cross the blood brain barrier to reach all parts of a nerve cell, thereby promoting healthy nerve function and preventing free radical damage to the neurological system. As well, ALA works synergistically with B complex vitamins to support energy production by helping to convert dietary macronutrients into stored energy for future use. By protecting the mitochondria from free radical damage, ALA helps to ensure that the body’s energy production remains efficient. Along with glutathione, multifunctional ALA may help protect the body against toxic metal contaminants found in the environment and food supply. By chelating toxic agents such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury, ALA renders them inactive so they can be eliminated by the body.

Small levels of alpha lipoic acid can be found in foods such as organ meats, red meats and brewer’s yeast, as well as cruciferous and root vegetables. Normally synthesized in tiny amounts, the extent to which the body is able to produce ALA declines with aging. Numerous scientific studies have found that supplementation can provide substantial therapeutic benefits to complement a healthy lifestyle. While the body does produce ALA naturally, levels can be increased with suitable dietary choices, as well as proper supplementation.

Professional Supplement Center carries these and other high quality formulations in support of optimal wellness:

Alpha Lipoic Acid...Alpha Lipoic Acid 600 mg by Pure Encapsulations®: This gluten free, Non-GMO, hypoallergenic vegan formulation provides water and lipid soluble alpha lipoic acid in support of healthy glucose metabolism and nerve health.


Alpha Lipoic Acid...Alpha Lipoic Acid Time Release 600 mg by Natrol®: This time release formula provides 600 mg of ALA per serving in support of whole body cell rejuvenation, as well as antioxidant and cellular anti-aging protection. Also available in a 300 mg formulation. Free of milk, eggs, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soy, yeast, sugar, preservatives and artificial flavors. Vegetarian formulation.

Alpha Lipoic Acid...Alpha Lipoic Acid by Now® Foods: This synergistic formula provides 100 mg of ALA blended with complementary antioxidant vitamins C and E for potent antioxidant protection. Free of gluten, wheat, yeast, corn, milk and eggs. Vegetarian formulation.


ALPHA LIPOIC ACID. https://diabetesaction.org/article-alpha-lipoic-acid
Uptake, recycling, and antioxidant actions of alpha-lipoic acid in endothelial cells. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12086686
Alpha-lipoic acid as a pleiotropic compound with potential therapeutic use in diabetes and other chronic diseases. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4124142/
The ‘Do-Everything’ Antioxidant. https://nutritionreview.org/2013/04/lipoic-acid/
Effect of alpha-lipoic acid on blood glucose, insulin resistance and glutathione peroxidase of type 2 diabetic patients. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21666939
Professional Resource: Alpha Lipoic Acid. http://www.oicc.ca/uploads/ala-health-professional.pdf

Alpha Lipoic Acid and Blood Sugar

BloodSugarJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

Well known as a potent water- and fat-soluble antioxidant, lipoic acid is naturally produced by the body. Often referred to as alpha lipoic acid (ALA), lipoic acid is believed to have the ability to cross cell membranes, offering free radical protection both inside and outside cellular structures. Aging is marked by a decline in the concentration, synthesis and recycling of important antioxidants such as glutathione, CoQ10 and vitamins C and E. The loss of antioxidant function allows free radicals to proliferate, potentially impairing immune function, damaging organs, cell membranes and DNA strands, and contributing to degenerative disease risk.

Those with diabetes know that keeping blood sugar balanced is challenging. Associated conditions, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol, also require management to prevent complications that can impair quality of life and limit functionality. With its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, ALA has been shown to be useful in managing high blood sugar and its associated health problems. Large clinical trials have found that ALA has a role in treating the symptoms of neuropathy, and may aid in improving insulin sensitivity, vessel tone, inflammation, oxidative stress, and blood sugar and blood lipid levels.

-Studies show that nearly half of American adults are living with diabetes or pre-diabetes. Lipoic acid may be considered a helpful aid for those with elevated blood sugar. By helping to facilitate the proper function of insulin receptors and insulin-dependent glucose transporters, lipoic acid plays an important role in blood sugar regulation.

-In supplement form, lipoic acid appears to improve insulin sensitivity and may also relieve complications and symptoms of diabetes, such as numbness caused by nerve damage, peripheral neuropathy, and cardiovascular problems. There is also evidence that supplemental lipoic acid can improve insulin sensitivity and glucose utilization in individuals with type 2 diabetes. This potential lowering of blood glucose can help protect from nerve damage.

-The inner lining of the blood vessels, known as the endothelium, plays an important role in vascular disease. Individuals with diabetes often have impaired endothelial function. In a randomized controlled trial, lipoic acid was found to improve flow-mediated vasodilation, or widening of the blood vessels, resulting in improved vascular function.

-Neuropathy, or nerve damage, results from poorly controlled blood glucose levels. Peripheral neuropathy can cause pain, numbness, and muscle weakness largely in the legs and feet, and less often in the upper extremities. Autonomic neuropathy affects the nerves in the autonomic nervous system that controls the heart, lungs, stomach and other organs. Research shows that lipoic acid may help ease the symptoms of both peripheral and autonomic neuropathy.

-Oxidative stress and diabetes can have detrimental effects on eye health and vision. By helping to counteract oxidative stress, lipoic acid may help to inhibit diabetes-related cataract formation.

As an antioxidant recycler, lipoic acid regenerates the antioxidant powers of vitamins C and E, helping to stave off free radical damage and slowing down the cellular damage behind diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. As an essential co-enzyme, lipoic acid plays a vital role in mitochondrial energy production. By fighting free radicals and rejuvenating mitochondria, lipoic may help to combat signs of aging and support better overall health and function.

Professional Supplement Center carries these and other fine products in support of overall wellness:

Alpha Lipoic Acid...Alpha Lipoic Acid 600 mg by Pure Encapsulations®: One capsule provides 600 mg of ALA, an exceptionally versatile and multifunctional nutrient that plays a vital role in metabolic processes and antioxidant activity. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.

Alpha Lipoic AcidAlpha Lipoic Acid by Klaire Labs®: This high quality pure product is formulated for sensitive individuals. One serving provides 150 mg of ALA in support of antioxidant activity and liver detoxification. This kosher, vegetarian product contains no artificial ingredients, and is free of gluten, soy, dairy, wheat, soy and common allergens.

Lipoic AcidLipoic Acid by Integrative Therapeutics: This vegetarian product provides 200 mg of alpha lipoic acid per serving. Free of gluten, soy, wheat, dairy, yeast, and artificial ingredients.


Alpha lipoic Acid...Alpha Lipoic Acid 600 mg by Now Foods: One serving provides 600 mg of ALA in support of antioxidant activity, healthy neural tissues, proper glucose metabolism and cardiovascular function. Gluten, wheat, soy, and dairy free, vegan formulation.


Alpha-Lipoic Acid ...Alpha Lipoic Acid by Douglas Laboratories®: One tablet supplies 100 mg of ALA in support of antioxidant defenses and energy metabolism. Soy free, vegan formulation.


Unique ‘Mitochondrial Antioxidant’ Fights Premature Aging. https://nutritionreview.org/2013/04/rlipoic-acid/
Half of Adults In The U.S. Have Diabetes or Pre-Diabetes, Study Finds. https://www.forbes.com/sites/robertglatter/2015/09/08/50-percent-of-adults-in-u-s-have-diabetes-or-pre-diabetes-study-finds/#1fb3891f47bd
Lipoic Acid. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/lipoic-acid
Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA) and Diabetic Neuropathy. http://www.healthline.com/health/alpha-lipoic-acid-and-diabetes#overview1
Alpha Lipoic Acid. http://www.diabetesaction.org/site/PageNavigator/complementary_5_12