Unlocking the benefits of Alpha Lipoic Acid for a healthier lifestyle

Alpha lipoic acid maintains healthy blood sugar levels and reduces oxidative stress.

It has been discovered to facilitate better eye health, provide neuroprotection, protect bone density, chelate metals, prevent migraines and maintain healthy skin. Additionally, Alpha Lipoic Acid is regulated by several European countries as a drug, although it is available in the US as a supplement.

Many people can benefit from natural strategies that maintain healthy blood sugar (glucose) and protect against oxidative stress given the growing epidemic of diabetes and its devastating complications. One’s risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease increases when one has metabolic syndrome. This includes insulin resistance, high triglycerides high blood pressure and low high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

Lipoic acid is known as a potent and effective antioxidant with many unique properties. In some European countries (where it is approved for treating diabetes-related complications, alcoholism-related complications and liver diseases), lipoic acid is a crucial component of every health maintenance regime for informed individuals [1].

Recent research shows lipoic acid has impressive benefits for glaucoma, migraines, strokes and bone health.

Oxidative stress protection

Oxidative stress and the generation of free radicals are two underlying problems in diabetes. The free radicals circulate in the body, attacking and damaging tissues. Diabetes patients are more likely to experience oxidative stress due to high glucose levels, which may contribute to long-term complications.

By neutralizing free radicals and inhibiting oxidative stress, antioxidants like lipoic acid prevent this damage [2]. A unique property of lipoic acid is that it can act in both water-soluble and fat-soluble domains in cells and tissues. This makes it easy to absorb and transport into many body organs and systems, including the liver, brain and nerves.

This is in contrast to antioxidants such as vitamin C, which is not very lipid-soluble (it cannot penetrate cell membranes very well), or vitamin E, which is not water-soluble. By combining lipoic acid with these antioxidants, the body is able to fight free radicals more effectively. The antioxidant properties of lipoic acid help to regenerate vitamins C and E.

Unlocking the benefits of Alpha Lipoic Acid for a healthier lifestyle

Moreover, lipoic acid helps amplify the positive effects of other important antioxidants in the body, like glutathione and coenzyme Q10. Both of these are crucial to health against disease and aging. 

By converting food components, such as carbohydrates, protein and fats, into stored energy, it supports energy production in the body along with the B-vitamin family. Specifically, lipoic acid protects mitochondria, the energy-producing factories of cells, from oxidative stress, ensuring efficient energy production throughout the body.

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Diabetes and metabolic syndrome

A growing body of research suggests that lipoic acid may play an important role in maintaining optimal blood sugar levels, supporting insulin sensitivity and supporting fundamental aspects of cardiovascular health, like endothelial function.

A recent review of experimental studies suggests alpha lipoic acid may be able to relieve several components of metabolic syndrome, a constellation of risk factors that often precedes type 2 diabetes. Researchers found that lipoic acid improves lipid profiles, reduces weight and reduces blood pressure. The potential therapeutic value of lipoic acid for individuals with metabolic syndrome is encouraging to scientists [3].

An additional study of 36 coronary artery patients found that acetyl-L-carnitine combined with lipoic acid reduced blood pressure and improved brachial artery endothelial function. For people with metabolic syndrome, this nutrient pair may be an effective strategy for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels.

In overweight adults with type 2 diabetes, lipoic acid was found to significantly improve insulin sensitivity. Lipoic acid produced significant improvements in a short time –only four weeks of supplementation [4]. Diabetes type 2 is characterized by insulin resistance, so this finding could have significant implications.

In spite of diabetes complications, lipoic acid can still help. It has proven effective in treating diabetic neuropathy, a type of nerve damage induced by high glucose levels in the body.

Aiming to promote better eye health

Optimal vision can be supported by alpha lipoic acid. With age, adults become more likely to develop cataracts, which are opacities of the lens that impair vision

A fundamental problem in cataract formation is oxidative stress in the eye’s lens. An experimental animal model found lipoic acid to be effective in protecting against cataract formation. Lipoic acid may deliver this benefit by increasing naturally occurring antioxidant enzymes like glutathione peroxidase [5].

Glaucoma is another common cause of vision loss. In a study of patients with open-angle glaucoma, patients receiving 75 mg of lipoic acid every day for two months or 150 mg of lipoic acid daily for a month improved their visual function and other glaucoma measures compared with a control group that did not receive lipoic acid [6].

Additionally, a recent study found that combining lipoic acid with vitamin E prevented retinal cell death in animals with retinitis pigmentosa. It affects humans as well. A nutritional approach could potentially treat retinitis pigmentosa, which currently has no effective medical treatment [7].

Neuroprotection

Lipoic acid is studied extensively for its ability to reduce the damaging effects of free radicals on the nervous system [8]. Lipoic acid can easily reach all parts of a nerve cell. 

In experiments, lipoic acid reduced brain damage after a stroke, and animals receiving lipoic acid had a survival rate that was three times higher than those not receiving lipoic acid [9]. It has been suggested that lipoic acid promotes healthy nerve function by regenerating glutathione, which is often depleted by harmful oxidative stress associated with cerebrovascular events like strokes.

A new study suggests lipoic acid may help guard against Alzheimer’s disease, one of the most feared conditions associated with aging. Several mechanisms have been identified by researchers that may explain how lipoic acid helps prevent or manage Alzheimer’s [10]. Lipoic acid may increase acetylcholine production, a messenger essential to the nervous system that is lacking in Alzheimer’s patients’ brains.

Maintaining bone density

Lipoic acid may also be beneficial in preventing osteoporosis-related bone loss and other degenerative bone diseases. Bone health may be preserved by subduing oxidative stress, which has the potential to weaken strong bone density.

Lipoic acid inhibited the formation of bone-degrading osteoclast cells in the laboratory when applied to bone marrow cells and osteoblasts (bone-forming cells) [11]. It also reduced inflammation-induced bone loss in both laboratory and living systems [12]. 

Lipoic acid prevents bone loss by inhibiting prostaglandin E2 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha, which are pro-inflammatory cytokines [13]. According to these promising preliminary findings, lipoic acid may have a therapeutic role in preventing and managing osteoporosis.

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Metal chelation

Lipoic acid may also defend the body against toxic metal contaminants in the environment and food supply. This multifunctional agent works by chelating dangerous agents, like arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury and rendering them inactive so the body can remove them.

According to animal studies, lipoic acid protects the liver from arsenic poisoning and cadmium poisoning [14]. In addition, lipoic acid was also shown to protect the delicate nervous system from mercury poisoning [15].

Preventing migraines

There is preliminary evidence that lipoic acid could offer migraine sufferers some relief. A study shows that taking 600 mg of lipoic acid each day for three months reduced migraine frequency and intensity modestly and they also reported fewer headache days [16].

Unlocking the benefits of Alpha Lipoic Acid for a healthier lifestyle

Keeping your skin healthy

Lipoic acid has myriad benefits, including improving skin health. According to a study of 33 women with an average age of 54, twice-daily application of lipoic acid cream for three months reduced the roughness of their skin and reduced the appearance of photoaging [17].

Using Lipoic Acid

Age naturally decreases lipoic acid production in the body, resulting in free radical damage. Despite the fact that foods like spinach and collard greens, broccoli, beef and organ meats contain some lipoic acid, supplementation may be required to achieve significant intake levels [18].

According to studies, R-dihydrolipoic acid has the greatest potency of lipoic acid. It has been possible to purchase R-dihydrolipoic acid as a dietary supplement in recent years, providing the body with the most readily available form of lipoic acid.

Many of the benefits associated with lipoic acid are caused by R-dihydrolipoic acid. Antioxidant effects of R-dihydrolipoic acid are immediate and significant in the body. 

The antioxidant is particularly effective at destroying peroxynitrite free radicals, which include both oxygen and nitrogen and have been linked to chronic inflammation, nervous system disorders and atherosclerosis. Various doses of lipoic acid have been used in scientific studies showing its health benefits. 

Recommendations, side effects and interactions

Supplementing with biotin and vitamin B complex concurrently is recommended by some nutritional practitioners for optimal results.

The use of lipoic acid in recommended doses has generally been found to be safe. Among the rare side effects reported in humans are skin allergies and digestive problems.

Those with diabetes or glucose intolerance should monitor their blood glucose levels while taking lipoic acid because it may lower blood glucose levels. In order to prevent hypoglycemia, they may also need to adjust the dose of their anti-diabetic medication.

Since long-term use of lipoic acid has not yet been studied in pregnant women and nursing mothers, these individuals should avoid using the antioxidant [19]. Lipoic acid offers broad-spectrum protection against some of society’s troublesome health conditions, ranging from painful neuropathy and migraine headaches to disabling cataracts and neurodegenerative conditions. 

You can begin optimizing your body’s levels of protective antioxidants today using supplements of lipoic acid or its high-potency cousin, R-dihydrolipoic acid.

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[1] https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/lipoic-acid
[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16026269/
[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17302524/
[4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17178700/
[5] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7750805/
[6] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8604540/
[7] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16849425/
[8] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8958163/
[9] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8738270/
[10] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16989905/
[11] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15930166/
[12] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16365401/
[13] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16632109/
[14] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2112957/
[15] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10051379/
[16] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17355494/
[17] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14616378/
[18] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17217324/
[19] https://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2007/10/nu_lipoic_acid

Photograph: Prostock-studio/Envato
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