Alpha lipoic acid: The antioxidant you didn’t know you needed

An antioxidant is a chemical that can stop or delay the harm that free radicals do to cells.

Unstable chemicals called free radicals have the potential to harm cells and play a role in the emergence of chronic illnesses. This includes cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Antioxidants neutralize free radicals by preventing them from harming cells. They do this by giving the free radical an electron, stabilizing it and preventing it from harming other molecules in the body. [1]

Vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, selenium and flavonoids are a few typical antioxidants. Numerous foods include these ingredients, including fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Although the body makes some antioxidants on its own, it can also get advantages from consuming more antioxidants in the diet or through supplements. A poor diet, exposure to chemicals in the environment and other factors can cause oxidative stress, which antioxidants can help prevent. Antioxidants may help lower the risk of chronic illnesses and enhance general health by lowering oxidative stress.

A naturally occurring antioxidant called alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is crucial for the creation of cellular energy. Besides being a nutritional supplement, it’s also present in foods like spinach, broccoli and yeast [2]

Alpha Lipoic Acid: The antioxidant you didn't know you needed

Being both water and fat soluble allows ALA to function in the body’s aqueous and lipid environments. This is one of its special qualities. In addition, it makes it possible for it to quickly infiltrate and defend a number of areas in the body.

Health benefits of taking ALA

Research has shown that ALA has possible health benefits, including:

  • Reduce inflammation: Studies have shown that ALA can lower the body’s production of inflammatory chemicals. This may help lower the chance of developing chronic illnesses including diabetes and heart disease.
  • Enhance insulin sensitivity:  ALA boosts insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes. This may help regulate blood sugar and lower diabetic complications.
  • Can aid in protecting against the oxidative damage: ALA can counter damage brought on by free radicals. This may lessen the risk of chronic illnesses and avoid cell damage.
  • Enhance skin health: Research has shown that ALA can enhance skin health by lessening the visibility of fine lines and wrinkles and by hydrating the skin.
  • May aid to increase cognitive performance: ALA lowers inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain.

In most cases, ALA is safe to take. Although some people may have skin rashes or nausea when they take it. Before beginning a new supplement regimen or making substantial dietary changes, it is always a good idea to see your doctor.

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Alpha lipoic acid as antioxidant

Due to its special ability to function in both fat and aqueous environments, ALA is exceptionally efficient at scavenging a variety of free radicals in the body. Additionally strengthening its antioxidant properties, it can replenish other antioxidants like vitamins C and E.

Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of ALA may help lower the risk of chronic illness. It contributes to the cellular process of producing energy, which may have further positive effects on health.

According to some research, ALA may be especially efficient at shielding the brain from oxidative stress. It lowers the risk of age-related cognitive decline and neurodegenerative illnesses like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

In general, ALA is a potent antioxidant that can offer a variety of health advantages. Even while ALA is mostly thought to be safe when taken as advised, it can interact with some drugs and might not be suitable for everyone. Always with your healthcare professional before beginning any new supplements.

Precautions of Taking ALA Supplements 

The lack of sufficient study on the safety of ALA during pregnancy is the cause of this. High dosages of ALA may result in fetuses developing abnormally, according to animal research. ALA can also cross the placenta and enter the fetal circulation, which could harm the embryo [3].

Therefore, it is advised that pregnant women abstain from using ALA supplements unless a healthcare professional makes a special recommendation. To guarantee their safety, pregnant women should always speak with their healthcare professional before taking any new vitamins or drugs.

While using alpha lipoic acid (ALA) supplements as advised is usually regarded as safe. There are a few things you should be aware of, which consist of:

  • Medication interactions: ALA may interact with a number of pharmaceuticals, including several diabetic treatments, thyroid medications, and chemotherapy therapies. If you take any drugs, it’s crucial to consult your doctor before taking ALA.
  • Pregnancy and nursing: It is advisable to avoid using ALA supplements during pregnancy and nursing because there is little data on their safety throughout these phases of life.
  • Low blood sugar: It has been shown that ALA increases insulin sensitivity, which might lead to blood sugar levels falling too low in diabetics who are taking drugs to do so. If you have diabetes and use ALA supplements, it’s important to constantly check your blood sugar levels.
  • May cause allergic responses: Although, this is uncommon. Stop taking ALA supplements and visit a doctor if you get signs like a rash, hives, or breathing problems after doing so.
  • Surgery: It’s very important to cease taking ALA supplements at least two weeks before the planned procedure since ALA supplements have the potential to influence blood sugar levels and function as a blood thinner.

Overall, even while ALA supplements may offer possible health advantages, it’s crucial to see a medical professional before using them, especially if you have any health issues or are on any drugs.

Alpha Lipoic Acid: The antioxidant you didn't know you needed
Photograph: ijeab/Envato

How to take alpha lipoic acid supplements 

The supplement version of alpha lipoic acid is available and is normally used orally. Depending on why you’re taking ALA, different dosages may be advised. As a result, it’s crucial to adhere to the directions on the supplement’s label or those given to you by your doctor. 

Here are some general recommendations for ALA supplementation:

  • Timing: You can take ALA supplements with or without meals. However, taking them with food may lessen the possibility of experiencing gastrointestinal side effects like nausea.
  • Dosage: There are different dosages for ALA depending on why you’re taking it. For instance, the dosage for general antioxidant support is normally between 50 and 100 mg per day, while the dosage for blood sugar management in persons with type 2 diabetes is typically between 300 and 600 mg per day. [4]
  • Form: ALA supplements come in tablet and pill varieties. Some supplements combine ALA with antioxidants or minerals.
  • Quality: When selecting an ALA supplement, search for a reputed brand that makes use of premium components and whose potency and purity have been verified.
  • Consult your doctor: It’s always a good idea to discuss any new supplements you intend to take with your doctor, especially if you have any medical concerns or are already taking any drugs.
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Alpha lipoic acid and other health conditions

It has been investigated if alpha lipoic acid can help a variety of medical disorders. The following are some health issues that ALA may be beneficial for:

  • Diabetes type 2: There’s been research on whether alpha lipoic acid works on a variety of diseases
  • Diabetic neuropathy: It is a form of nerve damage that can happen in persons with diabetes, and studies have shown that ALA is useful in lowering its symptoms.
  • Cardiovascular disease: ALA may aid in enhancing blood vessel performance and reducing inflammation, both of which may assist in lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Cognitive function: According to some research, ALA may enhance cognitive performance by lowering brain inflammation and oxidative stress. People who suffer from neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s may benefit from this.
  • Liver disease: ALA may offer protection against the harm that pollutants, alcohol, and other variables may do to the liver.
  • Skin aging: Studies have shown that ALA can delay the signs of aging on the skin by lessening the visibility of fine lines and wrinkles and boosting skin moisture.

While ALA may help various medical issues, additional analysis is required to determine its efficacy and ideal doses. It’s also crucial to keep in mind that ALA supplements could interfere with some drugs and might not be suitable for everyone. Always ask your healthcare professional before beginning any new supplements.

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[1] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/antioxidants-explained
[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7649494/
[3] https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-767/alpha-lipoic-acid
[4] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/alpha-lipoic-acid#sources-amp-dosage

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