What is Alpha Lipoic Acid?

Use of Alpha Lipoic AcidAlpha-lipoic acid (ALA) or “thioctic acid” is a sulfur-containing antioxidant with ability to interact with multiple body systems.

ALA is one of those hidden gems of clinical nutrition that is not as well-known in mainstream nutrition. It’s name does not make it much of a buzzword that you hear discussed over the dinner table either. But after reviewing what the research has to say, you may agree that it is some rather powerful stuff that may be worth adding into your health regimen.

ALA  is found in healthy foods such as spinach, chard, collard greens and broccoli – foods often deficient in standard American diets.

One use of ALA may be to help restore and maintain levels of glutathione – the body’s “master antioxidant” (123), and other antioxidants in the body such as Vitamin C.

Beyond helping the body to recycle existing antioxidants, ALA is itself an antioxidant. Research suggest that its antioxidant qualities may offer powerful nutrition support for diabetes, cancer, AIDs, cardiovascular, neurodegenerative, liver & autoimmune diseases (4567).

Mitochondrial Protection

Mitochondria are the energy factories of the cell – highly prevalent in nerve and muscle tissue and important regulators of cellular metabolism. Think of your mitochondria as the little “batteries” of the cell that need to be recharged. ALA helps regulate and “recharge” mitochondrial function with ability to act as an anti-oxidant and help the body clear away heavy metals such as mercury (89101112).

When metabolism is slowed, free radicals can build up and may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease and stroke. Alpha-lipoic acid may help reverse mitochondrial damage and protect the body from these and related disorders (13141516171819202122).

Other Uses of Alpha Lipoic Acid

  • Alpha-lipoic acid is increasingly accepted for its role in antioxidant therapy especially for diabetic neuropathy (23; 24; 25; 26). A dose of 300-600mg over a 3-5 week period may lead up to as much as 50% reduction in symptoms (27).
  • May offer anti-aging and skin protective qualities (28; 29).
  • May offer beneficial role in glaucoma (30)
  • Along with other herbs and nutrients, alpha-lipoic acid may help manage headache disorders (31; 32)
  • May offer option for treatment and prevention of type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and residual problems due to high oxidative stress, but evidence is uncertain (33; 34; 35; 36; 37). Scientists are perplexed that anti-oxidant protective molecules can sometimes actually act as “pro-oxidants” and worsen damage from things like heavy metals (38), while in other cases offer protective benefits.
  • Lastly, ALA may support energy balance in obesity and play a therapeutic role in cancer (39;  40; 41)

Tonight, make sure you eat your dark leafy greens, and you might consider asking your nutrition professional whether Alpha-Lipoic Acid may be right for you.

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  1. What is Functional Medicine? December 31, 2013 at 9:37 am - Reply

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