What Is Alpha Lipoic Acid?

Alpha lipoic acid (ALA), a chemical compound, is required for aerobic life (life forms which use oxygen).

Alpha lipoic acid is found in all cells of humans and is needed for energy production in which ALA converts glucose into energy.

Other names for alpha lipoic acid include

  • ALA
  • lipoic acid
  • thioctic acid

In recent times, Alpha lipoic acid has been recognized as a powerful antioxidant in humans. This is one of many benefits of Alpha lipoic acid which is becoming increasingly popular as a health supplement with limited side effects.

Food Sources Of Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)

ALA is found in many foods, however in most foods it is present in very low levels.

Foods with slightly higher levels of alpha lipoic acid include [1,2]:

  • broccoli
  • heart
  • kidney
  • liver
  • brussels sprouts
  • rice bran
  • peas
  • spinach yeast extract

Alpha lipoic acid taken from food has not been shown to increase levels of free ALA in blood or cells. In order to take advantage of the benefits of alpha lipoic acid, ALA supplements are taken. Alpha lipoic acid supplements contain synthesized alpha lipoic acid.

Structural Formation of Alpha Lipoic Acid

The structural formation of alpha lipoic acid is: C8 H14 02 S2

Alpha lipoic acid is an organosulfur compound. The first part, organo, refers to its property as an organic compound. Alpha lipoic acid contains sulfur and any chemical compound which contains sulfur is known as an organic compound.

History Of Alpha Lipoic Acid

Alpha lipoic acid was first isolated as a compound in 1951 by scientists Dr. Reed and colleagues from the University of Texas, United States of America.

Initially, there were few clinical studies into the effectiveness of alpha lipoic acid as a treatment option for various conditions.

During the 1970's, scientists including Bartter & Berkson [3,4], in collaboration with the National Institute of Health (NIH), found intravenous alpha lipoic acid given to patients with liver damage could improve their condition; 75 out of 79 patients in the study group showed improvement.

Since the late 1980's & early 1990's, alpha lipoic acid has been recognized as a powerful antioxidant. In more recent times synthesized alpha lipoic acid has become widely available as a health supplement. These supplements are marketed according to the benefits to alpha lipoic acid.