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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

The Broad-Spectrum Benefits of Lipoic Acid

lipoicacidJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

Lipoic acid (LA) is a naturally occurring antioxidant compound synthesized in small amounts by the body and otherwise obtained through diet and supplementation. Because LA is both water and fat soluble, it is readily absorbed into cells, tissues and organ systems, giving it a distinct advantage over other antioxidants. In its role as a potent and effective antioxidant, LA protects against free radicals, reduces oxidative stress and is believed to help regenerate other antioxidants, including reduced glutathione and vitamins C and E. Per the National Institutes of Health, LA has therapeutic potential beyond its value as a potent biological antioxidant.

LA serves as a coenzyme that aids in the conversion of macronutrients into cellular energy, supports the mitigation and chelation of heavy metals, and is widely recognized in Europe, where it has been used for more than 50 years to relieve symptoms of diabetic polyneuropathy and retinopathy. In addition to its critical roles in mitochondrial energy metabolism, detoxification, and diabetes-related support, LA is utilized to improve age-associated cardiovascular, cognitive and neuromuscular deficits. Currently, trials are underway to determine whether LA may be an appropriate treatment for the prevention of vascular disease, hypertension, chronic inflammation and metabolic syndrome.

Antioxidant activity – The ability to boost or recycle other antioxidants, particularly glutathione, enhances LA’s own antioxidant benefits. Often referred to as the master antioxidant, glutathione is critical to disease prevention, as well as cellular and immune health. Restoring glutathione blood levels helps to improve the functionality of immune cells, such as T cells and lymphocytes.

Diabetes – High glucose levels associated with insulin resistance contribute to increased production of free radicals and higher levels of oxidative stress. This increased level of free radicals can impair insulin-stimulated glucose transport and the activation of insulin receptors. The significance of oxidative stress in diabetes complications including polyneuropathy is now recognized by the American Diabetes Association. LA is used extensively in Germany to potentially prevent peripheral neuropathy in those with diabetes and to provide relief from symptoms of pain, burning and numbness associated with the condition.

Heavy metal chelation – Because LA has recognized metal chelating activity, it is believed to help protect the body from toxic environmental, industrial and dietary contaminants, including arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury. By acting as a chelating agent and bonding to heavy metals, LA assists the body’s detoxification processes.

Neuroprotection – As LA is readily absorbed and can cross cellular and blood brain barriers, it can reach all areas of the brain nerve cells, potentially preventing free radical damage to the neurological system. Its ability to regenerate the antioxidant glutathione helps to promote healthy nerve function. New data suggests that LA may help to guard against Alzheimer’s disease by helping to increase the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter released by nerve cells that has been found to be deficient in patients with Alzheimer’s.

Inflammation – Elevated levels of oxidative stress contribute to the chronic inflammation behind many age-related and degenerative diseases. LA has been studied for its antioxidant properties, and is well known inhibitor of proinflammatory signaling pathways.

Eye Health – In addition to eating a nutrient dense diet to support eye and overall health, studies have shown that LA may help to control age-related eye disorders. By reducing the oxidative stress that can damage ocular nerves, LA may help to control symptoms of eye-related disorders, such as vision loss, macular degeneration, cataracts, retinal damage and glaucoma.

Typically found in small amounts in animal and plant foods, dietary sources of LA include organ meats, spinach, broccoli and brewer’s yeast. Because dietary LA is bound to the amino acid lysine, which is bound to protein, it appears to have a minimal effect on the overall availability of the antioxidant in the body. A healthy body may synthesize adequate amounts of LA, however, those fighting illness, chronic disease, or the effects of advancing age, may benefit from supplementing with free form lipoic acid that is not bound to protein. For greater bioavailability, supplemental LA should be taken between meals.

As always, consult your healthcare professional before taking any dietary supplements if you are pregnant, nursing, have a health condition or are taking medications.

Professional Supplement Center carries these and other fine quality supplements to support overall health and wellness:

Alpha Lipoic Acid...Alpha Lipoic Acid by Pure Encapsulations –  One capsule provides 400 mg of alpha lipoic acid in support of free radical protection, healthy glucose metabolism, nerve health, and healthy vascular function. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.


Alpha lipoic Acid...Alpha Lipoic Acid by Now Foods 30% OFF – This highly absorbable formulation provides 600 mg of alpha lipoic acid per capsule in support of proper glucose metabolism, cardiovascular function, and healthy neural tissues. Gluten, soy and dairy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.


Lipoic AcidLipoic Acid 200 mg by Integrative Therapeutics – Each vegetarian capsule provides 200 mg of alpha lipoic acid to provide free radical damage protection and support reduced oxidative stress. Gluten, soy and dairy free vegetarian formula.


Lipoic Acid PlusLipoic Acid Plus by Biotics Research – This product supplies 100 mg of alpha lipoic acid along with vitamin C in support of normal mitochondrial function, heavy metal chelation, and cardiovascular health. Gluten and dairy free formulation.

Mercury toxicity and antioxidants: Part 1: role of glutathione and alpha-lipoic acid in the treatment of mercury toxicity. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12495372
Alpha-lipoic acid as a dietary supplement: Molecular mechanisms and therapeutic potential. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2756298/
The Nuclear Factor NF-kB Pathway in Inflammation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2882124/
Food Sources of Alpha-Lipoic Acid. http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/food-sources-alphalipoic-acid-1552.html