Lipoic acid provides essential energy to the body. Our cells need their vital nutrients to produce energy. It's antioxidant effect prevents the ageing of cells and promotes the optimal functioning of the heart, liver and brain.
What is alpha lipoic acid?
Lipoic acid is a sulfur-containing fatty acid. It can be found in many foods, such as spinach, broccoli or yeast extract. It is present In the human body primarily in the kidneys, heart and liver.
Although this substance is naturally present in the foods that we normally eat, such as vegetables and meat, its content is very small. Lipoic acid is essential for the proper functioning of the organs since it helps the mitochondria of the cell metabolism.
Lipoic acid is more effective as an antioxidant than vitamins C and E, since vitamin C acts exclusively in water and vitamin E is only effective in fat. The ability of alpha lipoic acid to act both in water and in fats makes it unique.
The cellular metabolic processes provide energy to the body and help in the division of chemicals and different nutrients that we consume through food, such as carbohydrates, fats, protein and alcohol.
The antioxidant activity of alpha lipoic acid protects the brain and other sensitive organs from damage. Although there have been no definitive clinical trials as yet, it is thought that the action of lipoic acid helps the body with the healing of wounds, injuries and illnesses.
Lipoic acid is so important that a deficiency can have several negative effects on the body. It is known that the same deficiency can manifest itself in different ways and can be very difficult to identify.
In general, lipoic acid deficiency generally manifests itself in the same way as a deficiency of other antioxidants: a weakened immune system, memory problems and loss of muscle mass.
The health benefits of alpha lipoic acid
Studies suggest that lipoic acid provides essential aid to the body with the following processes:
Prevents cellular ageing
Improve visual acuity
Stabilises blood pressure at a healthy level
Repairs damaged nerve cells
Prevents the appearance of diseases
Different formats of lipoic acid
Lipoic acid food supplements are available in the form of tablets or as a liquid. There are also local application creams and therapeutic injections.
Lipoic acid capsules are currently marketed as an antioxidant to improve energy and in some countries as a prescription medication.
Lipoic acid is a powerful antioxidant
Antioxidants are very important to the body as they eliminate free radicals and the harmful effects they cause.
They are chemicals produced in the body during normal cellular processes. When they separate they can cause damage and have an adverse effect on the metabolism, becoming harmful to vital organs.
Antioxidants can prevent this through their link with free radicals, thereby protecting the cell tissues. It is believed that lipoic acid, in addition to its antioxidant and restraining actions is also able to assist in regeneration.
If the body lacks antioxidants, then lipoic acid will fight free radicals in the same way as would any other antioxidant.
Lipoic acid is effective both in fatty and aqueous tissues, so helps strengthen the functioning of cells in all cases. Unlike with vitamins C and E, which are effective only in one way or the other, lipoic acid has a wider range of action as an antioxidant.
Lipoic acid protects the nervous system
Unlike with vitamins, lipoic acid is effective in both fat and water, so it's perfect for protecting brain tissue, find more information in the following link.
Given that lipoic acid is able to bypass the blood-brain barrier, it is is one of the few antioxidants that can prevent lesions inside the brain caused by free radicals. It is also believed that it helps strengthen the connection between nerve cells and that has a positive impact on sensitivity and response time.
Lipoic acid and its anti-ageing role
All antioxidants have an anti-ageing effect. Free radicals destroy the cell tissue, causing the death of cells and accelerate the ageing of the body. By preventing cellular damage, intact cells reproduce longer, which helps to promote overall health and the well-being that goes with it.
In addition, it has been demonstrated that lipoic acid can regenerate damaged skin when applied locally.
Lipoic acid not only has a positive effect on the outside of the body, but its real benefits lie mainly in its protective function for the brain and other organs.
Animal experiments suggest that lipoic acid may prevent hearing loss in the elderly. Another similar study points to the potential benefits that it may have in the treatment of glaucoma.
Although these assumptions have not been proven conclusively, there are several reports that describe possible areas of application for lipoic acid to improve the health and well-being of the elderly and to prevent certain damage in the body, before it occurs.
Alpha Lipoic Acid and Diabetes
ALA is a great tool to improve the response and the sensibility to insulin, and to regulate blood sugar levels.
It has the property of avoiding the glycosylation of proteins and preventing glucose and galactose from transforming into sorbitol. The accumulation of sorbitol is connected to certain pathologies present in diabetic people, such as cataracts.
Alpha lipoic acid is highly effective to improve diabetes type 2 and many studies support this fact. In addition to its effects on sugar levels, alpha lipoic acid protects from renal vascular damage, reduces neuropathy symptoms and enhances the nervous system function.
This is achieved thanks to its solubility property both in aqueous and fatty mediums, which will allow it to reach areas with limited accessibility and protect them from oxidative damages.
ALA and it metabolic function
The properties of Alpha Lipoic Acid go beyond its effects on the levels of blood glucose, as several studies have shown its effectiveness for preventing and improving different metabolic disorders.
ALA is used successfully in people that suffer from obesity, reducing their body weight up to 8%.
It helps to improve body composition, reduce abdominal fat and in addition it helps to diminish arterial hypertension.
All of this is a side effect of its action on the sensibility to insulin and the increase of adiponectin.
Adiponectin is a substance with an anti-inflammatory and an anti-atherogenic effect, that is found reduced in people who suffer from insulin resistance such as obesity, diabetes type 2 and metabolic syndrome.
Increase of physical performance
As the years pass, the mitochondrial mass reduces and with that the body’s capacity to generate energy. As a consequence, the cellular mass is reduced and the action of free radicals will increase.
The supply of ALA will increase the mitochondrial activity, diminish the peroxidation and stimulate the synthesis of energy. At the same type this will help to prevent the loss of muscle tissue and guarantee a correct muscle function.
Alpha Lipoic Acid helps to mobilize glucose towards the muscle cells, increasing its usage by the muscle tissue. This effect helps to improve the use of nutrients and increase the sport performance and general health.
Performing physical exercise also increases the production of free radicals, which means that the endogenous antioxidants, such as glutathione or vitamin E are reduced, increasing oxidative stress and the tissue damage.
Several studies demonstrate that ALA supplements help to protect the organism against an excess of free radicals that will attack the body during physical activity. Increased oxidative stress will alter the regulation of muscle contraction and may even affect myofibrillar proteins, therefore a reduction of oxidative stress will affect the reduction of muscle fatigue.
Its role on cardiovascular health
It may be beneficial to improve cardiovascular health thanks to its capacity to look after blood vessels, diminish arterial hypertension and balance blood lipids.
Alpha lipoic acid, also has the ability to regenerate vitamin E, a great antioxidant that also improves the cardiovascular function.
Increase of the immune system action
ALA along with other antioxidants such as vitamin C, bioflavonoids or Omega-3, stimulates the synthesis of interferon, a substance created by the white blood cells of our body against infections, allergies, etc.
ALA and Chronic fatigue syndrome
As it has a important role in the increase of cellular energy production, ALA may be a natural remedy to improve chronic fatigue syndrome.
Other fields of application of ALA
Alpha lipoic acid is highly beneficial for many health conditions, such as people suffering from glaucoma. In this case the recommended dose is of 150mg a day.
ALA intervenes in the correct maintenance of bones and as a preventive agent for osteoporosis. Some recent research has proved that it can be a great aid as a natural remedy for headaches and migraines, as a dosage of 600mg a day seems to diminish their intensity and frequency.
Who needs to take lipoic acid?
The intake of lipoic acid is helpful, especially for people who suffer from the following diseases/disorders:
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Burning tongue (glossodinia)
Multiple sclerosis (MS)
Wilson's disease or glaucoma
Loss of vision or cataracts
Acne and rosacea
Does lipoic acid have side effects?
Lipoic acid is considered safe, as long as the usage instructions are followed. Only with very high amounts (1200-1800mg a day) it can produce side effects such as stomach aches, nausea, vomiting, sickness or allergic skin reactions, which will disappear once the consumption is interrupted. Experts consider that its continuous use for prolonged periods does not have adverse effects as there are studies, lasting two years, that have been carried out without noticing any important side effects of alpha lipoic acid supplementation.
Lipoic acid side effects
Lipoic acid can cause interactions with other medications, especially in cases of people with thiamine deficiency. If you have a thiamine deficiency, consult your doctor before taking lipoic acid.
Lipoic acid intake can affect the medicines used for the treatment of thyroid disorders. You should also consult your doctor if this applies to you.
Recommended doses of lipoic acid
Lipoic acid is usually administered in a tablet form. The recommended dose for healthy people who want an antioxidant supplement is between 20 and 100 mg per day.
Reasons for taking dietary supplements containing lipoic acid
Studies suggest that lipoic acid has the following positive effects