Health and Nutrition Articles

Alpha Lipoic Acid

How Alpha Lipoic Acid Works

Alpha Lipoic Acid is a fatty acid that acts like a vitamin. It is made by the body, and we can also get some from certain types of food. It helps you breakdown carbs so they can be used to produce energy.

Usually, the ALA produced by your body and obtained from a healthy diet is all you need. However, when there is an excess of ALA in your body, it begins to act as an antioxidant and can deactivate free radicals that may cause cell damage.

Free radicals are simply cells that have an extra or unpaired electron. These damaged cells then attack normal cells leading to a host of potential health issues.

Alpha lipoic acid also helps your body replenish other antioxidants, like Vitamin C and Vitamin E. That means you'll have more power to fight free radicals. ALA is the only antioxidant known to reach the brain, which means it could help people avoid damage from strokes or head injury.

ALA and Diabetes

Alpha lipoic acid supplementation appears to be helpful to those with Type 2 diabetes.

There is evidence that ALA can help diabetics avoid insulin resistance while enhancing their ability to use insulin to lower blood sugar levels.

ALA may also be able to prevent nerve damage in general. For diabetics, that means relief from symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. Alpha lipoic acid seems to help those who suffer from burning tingling and numbness in their extremities.

Because of its effects on the nervous system, early studies indicate ALA may also have benefits for those diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

Other Uses and Benefits

While further research is required to fully understand the potential of alpha lipoic acid, promising results are suggesting its use could impact a wide range of health issues.

ALA may be able to:

  • Cause cancer cells to self-destruct
  • Reduce side effects of chemotherapy and radiation
  • Slow the damage of HIV
  • Improve liver disease
  • Promote weight loss
  • Reduce the buildup of plaque in arteries
  • Reduce cataracts and promote better vision

While the long-term effects of taking an alpha lipoic acid supplement are unknown, it is considered safe for most adults as any reported side effects are mild.

Talk to your healthcare professional about using ALA and any other dietary supplement. Because of its potential to affect blood glucose levels, diabetics would be wise to closely monitor blood sugars when beginning an ALA regimen.

We produce less alpha lipoic acid the older we get. For that reason, it may be a valuable supplement for mature individuals. Some researchers say ALA could even help slow the aging process while improving vitality.

Quick Facts

  • Protects the body from cell damage
  • Helps the body convert carbohydrates into energy
  • Food Sources: yeast, broccoli, potatoes, spinach, grass-fed red meat, liver
  • May enhance insulin sensitivity
  • May improve diabetic nerve pain
  • May provide protection to the brain
  • May slow the aging process