Benefits Of Alpha Lipoic Acid

There are many of benefits of alpha lipoic acid.

Some of these benefits can improve general health whilst some benefits are specific to certain conditions and ailments.

Alpha Lipoic Acid Is A Powerful Antioxidant

One benefit, which improves general health and wellbeing, is that alpha lipoic acid is recognized as a powerful antioxidant.

This is perhaps the most well known benefit of this compound.

Alpha lipoic acid as an antioxidant, can help the immune system by neutralizing free radicals within the body. Free radicals are potentially unstable molecules which can damage cells.

A characteristic of alpha lipoic acid is that it is fat and water soluble. It is thought that this characteristic makes it stand above other antioxidants as it's present in both fatty tissue and water. Being fat and water soluble means alpha lipoic acid is able to reach all parts of the cell and protect cell damage from any free radicals which are present.

When alpha lipoic acid reaches a cell it is broken down and becomes dihydrolipoic acid. Dihydrolipoic acid is another antioxidant considered even more powerful than alpha lipoic acid.

Alpha lipoic acid can pass through the blood-brain barrier and, as an antioxidant, protect brain tissue damaged by free radicals (see also 'Peripheral Neuropathy' below).

As an antioxidant, Alpha lipoic acid can help slow down the process of aging and help treat age related conditions by reducing cell damage caused by free radicals.

Alpha Lipoic Acid Can Enhance Other Antioxidants

A further characteristic, underlying why alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is considered such a powerful antioxidant, is that it is able to recycle or regenerate certain other antioxidants it comes into contact with.

When an antioxidant molecule 'attacks' an unstable free radical molecule, the antioxidant molecule is usually lost in the process. However, alpha lipoic acid can regenerate other antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, further enhancing their effectiveness. As such, alpha lipoic acid is sometimes referred to as a 'network antioxidant'; it is sometimes also referred to as a super antioxidant or power antioxidant.

Alpha Lipoic Acid Can Increase Production of Glutathione

A further benefit of alpha lipoic acid is its ability to increase production of another antioxidant, glutathione. An import compound, glutathione is found in cells within the body; one function is that it helps get rid of toxic substances in the liver. Like alpha lipoic acid, glutathione is an antioxidant. A low level of glutathione is linked to many conditions.

Conditions in which alpha lipoic acid supplements are thought to help include:

  • AIDS
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Asthma
  • Cancer - including prostrate
  • Cataracts
  • Hepatitis
  • Stroke - alpha lipoic acid is thought to improve stroke recovery
  • Parkinson's disease

Other Benefits of Alpha Lipoic Acid

Energy production - alpha lipoic acid helps improve glucose transport within the body. Alpha lipoic acid is an important component for energy production. It is required to break down sugar (glucose) during adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production.

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the fuel from which energy is released. ATP is also a building block of DNA which contains our genetic code, and also ribonucleic acid (RNA), which uses the genetic instructions from DNA for protein synthesis within the cells.

ALA can help treat Peripheral Neuropathy - peripheral neuropathy is a condition in which the peripheral nervous system is damaged. Sometimes referred to simply as 'nerve damage', symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include:

  • cramps
  • gait imbalance
  • numbness
  • tremor
  • weakness

Cause of peripheral neuropathy include:

  • a vitamin deficiency in diet (e.g. deficient in vitamins A, B1, B6, B12 or through an excess of vitamin B6)
  • alcoholism
  • Friedreich's ataxia
  • HIV
  • Lyme disease

There is evidence which suggests alpha liopic acid supplements given to people with peripheral neuropathy can improve their symptoms.

A study of diabetics with peripheral neuropathy [8] gave alpha lipoic acid to 181 patients with once daily doses of either 600mg, 1200mg or 1800mg for 5 weeks. The results showed that overall there was in improvement in symptoms.

The 600mg daily dosage of alpha lipoic acid seemed to be the best dosage in term of benefits compared to risk of side effects.

Can help treat Diabetes - diabetes is a condition characterized by high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. Studies suggest alpha lipoic acid normalizes blood sugar levels in diabetics.

For example, one study [10] showed a 30% increase in the disposal of glucose in diabetics following a 500mg daily dosage of alpha lipoic acid administered over 10 days.