Alpha lipoic acid (or thioctic acid as it is also referred to) is a universal antioxidant capable of absorbing damaging free radicals inside and outside of cells. This vitamin-like nutrient is produced within the human body in small amounts and although there are few foods that contain high amounts, red meat sources are considered the best. This nutrient is extremely important to human health because it is capable of affecting free radical activity on either side of the cell membrane and it’s one of the very few vitamin molecules capable of this function.
Alpha lipoic acid is a particularly great nutrient to take if you are overweight, have metabolic syndrome, have type 2 diabetes, or have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. This nutrient decreases the oxidation of proteins from excess sugar molecules known as advanced glycation end products. The process of glycation leads to cellular damage, disease, and premature aging. The nutrient has previously been used to treat diabetic neuropathy, glaucoma, and to control blood sugar. Previous studies which utilized 300-600 mg of alpha lipoic acid per day indicated a substantial improvement in nerve conduction, pain, and symptoms of peripheral neuropathy in diabetic patients.
Alpha lipoic acid has also shown promise as a method to protect the liver from fatty infiltration, inflammation, and damage caused from viruses and heavy metals. As a universal antioxidant, it’s a natural anti-inflammatory because it can absorb the free radicals produced through the inflammatory response before the cellular damage is severe. In this regard, alpha lipoic acid can help protect your arteries from inflammation, cholesterol oxidation, subsequent plaque development, and clot formation, resulting in restricted blood flow. It can also lower “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides, and increase the “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
In my opinion, the most exciting use for alpha lipoic acid is in the field of anti-aging medicine. This super nutrient can absorb free radicals and prevent glycation end products, expressed inside your mitochondria. These specialized cellular organelles are responsible for producing a constant source of energy to all of your cells. You will find these organelles in high concentrations in the brain, muscle, liver, and digestive tract. The DNA inside these cellular furnaces is very susceptible to free radical damage or glycation. Indeed, this is one of the principle theories as to the mechanisms behind the aging process.
For anti-aging protection and all the other benefits this nutrient can provide, I recommend 100 mg three times per day with meals.
Source(s) for Today’s Article:
Rochette, L., et al., “Direct and indirect antioxidant properties of α-lipoic acid and therapeutic potential,” Mol Nutr Food Res. January 2013; 57(1): 114-25.
Han, T., et al., “A systematic review and meta-analysis of α-lipoic acid in the treatment of diabetic peripheral neuropathy,” Eur J Endocrinol. October 2012; 167(4): 465-71.
Lyzogub, V.H., et al., [Application of alpha-lipoic acid in clinical practice]. Lik Sprava. October-December 2011; (7-8): 20-8.
Harding, S.V., et al., “Evidence for using alpha-lipoic acid in reducing lipoprotein and inflammatory related atherosclerotic risk,” J Diet Suppl. June 2012; 9(2): 116-27.
Padmalayam, I., “Targeting mitochondrial oxidative stress through lipoic acid synthase: a novel strategy to manage diabetic cardiovascular disease,” Cardiovasc Hematol Agents Med Chem. September 2012; 10(3): 223-33.