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Alpha Lipoic Acid is an essential antioxidant that helps protect against free radical damage and can improve skin quality. This article outlines the benefits of this supplement and recommended dietary sources to achieve maximum results. It is effective for treating acne, rosacea, and psoriasis. It also helps fight the signs of aging.
What is broccoli and spinach that makes them so good for you? Of course, there are fiber, vitamins, and minerals, but there are also other crucial chemical substances known as “antioxidants,” such as alpha-lipoic acid (ALA).
You’ve probably heard a lot about the numerous benefits of antioxidants and high-antioxidant foods, such as reducing inflammation, preventing cancer and heart disease, preventing depression and cognitive decline, and so on — but have you ever wondered what antioxidants are and how they work in the body?
One sort of antioxidant, alpha-lipoic acid, is a chemical present in common plant foods that scavenges free radicals, fights inflammation, and slows the aging process. But probably its most well-known use is in the natural treatment of diabetes.
Humans also produce a small amount of ALA on their own, albeit it is significantly increased in our bloodstreams when we consume a balanced diet. Lipoic acid, which is found in green vegetables, potatoes, and some kinds of yeast, is comparable to a vitamin. It may be synthesized in a lab and used as an anti-inflammatory supplement (called alpha-lipoic acid).
What Is Alpha Lipoic Acid?
Plants and animals manufacture lipoic acid, which is present in the body. It’s found in every cell of the body and aids in converting glucose into “fuel” for the body to run on. So is it “necessary” to take a particular amount of alpha-lipoic acid daily? No, not at all.
Even though we can make some of it without supplements or outside food sources (which is why it’s not considered an “essential nutrient”), eating an antioxidant-rich diet and possibly taking ALA supplements can increase the amount circulating in the body, which has been shown to have far-reaching health benefits in studies.
The most crucial function of ALA in the body is to combat the effects of free radicals, which are hazardous chemical reaction byproducts that occur during the oxidation process. ALA is transformed to dihydrolipoic acid in our cells, which provides protective properties against typical physiological processes.
Certain substances may become particularly reactive and harm cells when oxidation occurs in the body over time due to regular chemical interactions like eating or moving and exposure to external contaminants and toxins. This may result in aberrant cells growing and multiplying or other impacts such as reducing metabolic efficiency and altering neuron signaling.
Alpha-lipoic acid, like other antioxidants, may help delay cellular damage, which is one of the leading causes of illnesses, including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. It also helps the body digest and uses carbohydrate molecules to convert them into sound energy and replenish key vitamin levels such as vitamin E and vitamin C.
Furthermore, alpha-lipoic acid acts in tandem with B vitamins, which are required to convert all macronutrients from food into energy. It’s also produced and attached to protein molecules, making it a cofactor for several key mitochondrial processes.
ALA is unusual in that it is both water- and fat-soluble, unlike other nutrients (such as B vitamins or vitamins A, C, D, and E) that can only be fully absorbed with one or the other.
There’s some evidence that ALA serves as a “heavy metal chelator,” attaching to metals (also known as “toxins”) in the body, such as mercury, arsenic, iron, and other free radicals that enter the circulation through water, air, chemical products, and food.
Finally, alpha-lipoic acid may improve how the body utilizes an essential antioxidant called glutathione and energy metabolism, which is why some athletes take ALA supplements to enhance their physical performance.
Alpha-lipoic acid protects blood vessels, brain, neurons, and organs, including the heart and liver, by acting as an antidote to oxidative stress and inflammation. This means it has a wide range of health advantages, from naturally treating Alzheimer’s disease to managing liver illness.
Because ALA isn’t classified as an essential nutrient, a set daily intake isn’t needed to avoid insufficiency. On the other hand, Antioxidant deficiency may hasten the aging process, resulting in symptoms such as a weaker immune system, reduced muscle mass, cardiovascular issues, and cognitive issues.
Here are five ways that increasing alpha-lipoic acid in your diet (or taking supplements for specific individuals) might help you stay youthful and healthy:
1. Fights Diabetic Complications and Diabetes
One advantage of alpha-lipoic acid is that it helps protect cells and neurons involved in hormone synthesis, which can help prevent diabetes. In addition, ALA is thought to be good therapy for diabetic distal sensory-motor neuropathy, which affects around half of all people with diabetes.
In the form of a dietary supplement, ALA seems to enhance insulin sensitivity and may also guard against metabolic syndrome, a group of disorders that includes high blood pressure, cholesterol, and body weight. It may also help reduce blood sugar levels, according to some studies.
Numbness in the legs and limbs, cardiovascular difficulties, eye-related illnesses, discomfort, and swelling are consequences and symptoms of diabetes caused by nerve damage. As a result, it should be included in any diabetic diet plan to combat this prevalent ailment. In addition, people with diabetes who suffer from peripheral neuropathy may use ALA to relieve pain, burning, itching, tingling, and numbness. At the same time, most studies suggest that large dosages in IV form are more beneficial than consuming ALA-rich foods.
Because around 25% of persons with diabetes develop cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy, alpha-lipoic supplementation reduces the risk of neuropathic problems that damage the heart (CAN). Reduced heart rate variability is a CAN symptom linked to an increased risk of death in people with diabetes.
Although some physicians opt to safely utilize dosages up to 1,800 mg a day in their patients under supervision, research shows that supplementing 600 milligrams of ALA (or “LA” as it is frequently known) for three weeks effectively decreases the symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
2. Protects eye health
Oxidative stress may harm the nerves in the eyes, causing visual issues, particularly in diabetics and the elderly. As a result, eye-related illnesses such as vision loss, macular degeneration, retina damage, cataracts, glaucoma, and Wilson’s disease have been effectively treated with alpha-lipoic acid.
According to the findings of specific research, long-term usage of alpha-lipoic acid may help prevent the development of retinopathy by preventing oxidative damage that can lead to changed DNA in the retina. As individuals become older, their vision gets considerably more degraded, which is why it’s critical to consume a nutrient-dense diet well before they reach old age to avoid eye tissue degradation and eyesight loss.
3. Assists in prevention of memory loss and cognitive decline
We already know that eating a nutrient-dense diet rich in colorful “brain foods” may help preserve memory. Because of its antioxidant action, several health care providers employ alpha-lipoic acid supplements to assist their patients in avoiding neuron damage, memory loss, motor impairment, and alterations in cognitive functioning.
ALA seems to readily cross the blood-brain barrier and enter the brain, where it may preserve sensitive brain and nerve tissue. It’s also used to prevent strokes and other brain issues in older adults, such as dementia.
Recent rodent studies have indicated that ALA may help restore the damage in aging brain cells, increase memory performance, reduce oxidative damage, and boost mitochondrial function. However, it’s unclear how effectively these advantages can be applied to aging people.
4. It aids in the production of glutathione
Many scientists believe glutathione to be the “master antioxidant” since it is essential for immunity, cellular health, and disease prevention. According to some research, taking 300–1,200 mg of alpha-lipoic acid increases glutathione’s capacity to control the immune response and combat illnesses like diabetes/insulin resistance or even HIV/AIDS.
Supplementing alpha-lipoic acid in adults seems to improve the functional responsiveness of lymphocytes to T-cell mitogens and improve blood total glutathione levels in patients with immune deficiency syndromes and severe infections.
5. May help protect skin from damage
Specific research has discovered that topical treatment creams containing 5% alpha-lipoic acid may help minimize fine wrinkles produced by sun exposure when combating visible symptoms of aging on the skin. On the other hand, high levels of free radicals may cause skin damage, which is why antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables are thought to keep you looking youthful.
Sources of Information
The greatest approach to receiving any nutrients is from genuine food sources since your body understands how to absorb and utilize different compounds. Because ALA is attached to protein molecules, it may be found in various plant and animal sources (especially lysine).
Because the amount of ALA in various meals varies so much depending on where they’re produced, the quality of the soil, how fresh they are, and how they’re cooked, it’s difficult to say how much is in each. Although we know that vegetables and some organ meats tend to have the greatest levels of ALA, there hasn’t been much study done to make judgments about how much ALA is present in different diets.
However, suppose you eat a whole-foods-based diet and diversify the sorts of foods you eat. In that case, you’re likely to ingest a significant quantity in addition to what your body produces naturally.
Here are some of the top alpha-lipoic acid dietary sources:
- Red meat
- Meat from internal organs (such as liver, hearts, kidneys from beef or chicken)
- Brussels sprouts (brussels sprouts)
- Yeast for brewing
If you decide to use ALA supplements, bear in mind that more doesn’t necessarily equal better. While adverse effects and hazards from taking more seem to be unlikely (given that it’s a naturally occurring substance prevalent in the body at all times), as little as 20–50 milligrams per day seem to be beneficial for general preventive health. Patients with diabetes or cognitive impairments may get higher dosages of 600–800 mg per day, although this is not suggested for the general population.
Depending on who you ask, dosage recommendations vary, but here are some basic parameters that are within the safe range:
- In generally healthy persons, 50–100 mg of vitamin C are recommended for antioxidant reasons.
- For diabetic individuals, 600–800 mg (split into two doses, each pill being 30–50 milligrams)
- Patients with neuropathy and diabetic neuropathy should take 600–1,800 mg (dosages this high should only be taken with supervision from a doctor)
According to Oregon State University studies, the levels of lipoic acid accessible in dietary supplements (dosages ranging from 200–600 milligrams) are maybe 1,000 times more than those received by a person’s diet alone! Because it is thought that taking ALA supplements with a meal reduces its bioavailability, most experts suggest taking it on an empty stomach (or at least one hour before or after) for the greatest outcomes.
Because alpha-lipoic acid supplements haven’t been researched in youngsters or pregnant or nursing women, it’s now solely recommended for adults.
Insomnia, exhaustion, diarrhea, skin rash, or low blood sugar levels (particularly in those with diabetes or low blood sugar taking medicines) are all possible side effects of ALA in supplement form.
Interactions Between Drugs
Some possible interactions or situations in which you should see your doctor before using additional alpha lipoic supplements include:
- If you have a thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency, which is linked to liver damage and alcohol misuse.
- If you’re on insulin-controlling drugs for diabetes, this might increase your risk of hypoglycemia and low blood sugar.
- If you’re recuperating from chemotherapy, or if you’re on cancer drugs.
- If you’ve had a thyroid problem before.
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The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.
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