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 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 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 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 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