- Effect of α-lipoic acid on symptoms and quality of life in patients with painful diabetic neuropathy
- The Benefits of Alpha Lipoic Acid
- Alpha-lipoic Acid: Health Benefits, Uses, Side Effects, Dosage & Interactions
- Alpha Lipoic Acid – The Other ALA that Works Against Neuropathy
- What is Alpha Lipoic Acid?
- Alpha Lipoic Acid for Antioxidant Support
- Alpha Lipoic Acid Benefits & Side Effects
- Alpha Lipoic Acid for Diabetes
- Alpha Lipoic Acid for Weight Loss
- Other Health Benefits of Alpha Lipoic Acid
- Alpha Lipoic Acid For Skin
- Alpha Lipoic Acid Nerve Pain And Neuropathy
- Alpha Lipoic Acid And Inflammation
- Alpha Lipoic Acid Side Effects Thyroid
- How To Take Alpha Lipoic Acid
- Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)
- Can Alpha-Lipoic Acid Aid in Weight loss, Diabetes, and Nerve pain?
Effect of α-lipoic acid on symptoms and quality of life in patients with painful diabetic neuropathy
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The Benefits of Alpha Lipoic Acid
Alpha Lipoic Acid is also called thioctic acid or just lipoic acid and abbreviated ALA — but don't confuse it with the other ALA, alpha linoleic acid – which is an omega fatty acid. Alpha lipoic acid is a compound found naturally inside every cell in the body. It's needed by the body to produce the energy for our body's normal functions.
Alpha lipoic acid is also an antioxidant, a substance that neutralizes potentially harmful chemicals called free radicals. What makes alpha lipoic acid unique is that it functions in water and fat, un the more common antioxidants vitamin C and E.
1. Lipoic Acid Lowers Inflamation
You know we can’t talk enough about the benefits of lowering inflammation! Abnormal inflammatory responses contribute to diseases such as diabetes, pain, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, and many many other diseases.
2. Lipoic Acid Prevents and Helps Improve Diabetes
Taking alpha-lipoic acid improves blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes with it’s insulin-mimeticing activity, and by improving the body’s handling of glucose as well as it’s utilization.
Lipoic acid also increases glutathione (GSH) levels In patients with diabetes, where diabetes often lowers GSH.
In patients with type-2 diabetes, lipoic acid improved erectile dysfunction, reduced BMI, overall cholesterol, HDL, and triglycerides.
3. Nerve Pain/ Neuropathy
Europe has licensed alpha-lipoic acid for the treatment of neuropathy (nerve damage).
It has been shown to improve symptoms such as stabbing, burning, the feeling of limbs and/or toes being asleep, numbness, and prickling sensations.
It is suggested that it is best to take 600-1800 mg of alpha-lipoic acid per day (lower doses do not work for nerve pain) for neuropathy, and to give it time as it may take up to 4-6 weeks before feeling results.
4. Lipoic Acid Relieves Pain
Not only does lipoic acid improves the quality of life in patients with neuropathy, it also has shown that it decreases sciatic pain caused by a herniated disc, relieves chronic neck pain, and reduces symptoms and impairment from carpel tunnel, as well as reducing postoperative pain after carpal tunnel surgery.
5. Lipoic Acid May Improve Osteoarthritis
Studies have shown that lipoic acid decreased inflammation and ameliorated cartilage degeneration.
6. Lipoic Acid Increases Weight Loss
Research suggests that taking alpha-lipoic acid for 8-48 weeks can reduce body weight in people who are overweight. Even without dieting, lipoic acid can greatly improve glucose and fat metabolism resulting in more sugars and fats being broken down in foods and used for energy instead of being stored as fat. This was shown to also results in the urge to eat less.
Lipoic acid has also shown to inhibit the production of chimeric, a molecule that is associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome.
7. Lipoic Acid Improve Metabolic Syndrome
Lipoic acid improves cholesterol, reduces weight, reduces insulin resistance and blood pressure, all contributing factors of metabolic syndrome.
8. Lipoic Acid Decreases Bad Cholesterol
Studies confirm that lipoic acid reduces LD cholesterol and triglycerides, while increasing HDL (good cholesterol).
9. Improves Aging Skin and Sun Damaged Skin
Alpha-lipoic acid reduces fine lines and skin roughness caused by sun damage and improves elasticity and reduces wrinkles and roughness of aging skin.
10. Lipoic Acid Fights Cancer
Cell-based and animal model studies have shown that lipoic acid inhibits the initiation and promotion stages of cancer. Lipoic acid has shown the ability to inhibit breast cancer cell proliferation, and decrease cancer cells ability to survive in lung cancer patients.
11. Lipoic Acid Prevents Bone Loss
Postmenopausal women with low bone density showed an increase in bone density when taking alpha-lipoic acid, and several studies have shown that lipoic acid inhibits inflammation induced bone loss. Another study showed that lipoic acid not only stopped the bone resorption, but stimulated its formation.
12. Lipoic Acid Helps Keep Blood Pressure in Healthy Range
Lipoic acid has a beneficial effect in preventing hypertension by lowering the level of inflammatory cytokines in the blood, thus preventing pathological changes to blood vessel cells and normalizing changes in blood pressure.
13. Lipoic Acid Improves Alzheimers and Dementia
When lipoic acid was given daily to patients with dementia, the progression of disease was slowed. Another study showed that patents with AD lipoic acid led to a stabilization of cognitive functions.
14. Lipoic Acid Can Prevent Migraines
In patients with migraine, lipoic acid has shown the ability to reduce the frequency, duration, and intensity of migraines as it help with both mitochondrial disorders and oxidative stress, both linked to migraines.
Lipoic acid also improves the effectiveness of the migraine drug, topiramate while helping reduce the side effects of the drug. (R). The combination of lipoic acid and topiramate was significantly more effective at decreasing the frequency and duration of migraines than when just taking the drug alone.
15. Lipoic Acid May Help Those with Parkinson’s Disease
Lipoic acid decreases α-synuclein accumulation in the substantia nigra area of the brain, improves motor dysfunction, protects against dopaminergic neurons loss, inhibits the activation of nuclear factor-κB, and decreases pro-inflammatory molecules.
16. Lipoic Acid Helps Those with Multiple Sclerosis
Lipoic acid has been shown to be highly effective at suppressing and treating MS. It has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), and may be useful in treating MS by inhibiting activity that interferes with T-cell migration into the brain/spinal cord, and reducing Th1 and Th2 cytokines.
17. Lipoic Acid May Help with High-Risk Pregnancies
In high risk pregnancies, lipoic acid can speed up the return to normal pregnancy conditions and improve the conditions of both the mother and the fetus (R). Additionally, smaller number of miscarriages was recorded with lipoic acid supplementation (R). Lipoic acid decreases inflammation in women with gestational diabetes and reduces cervical inflammation after an episode of preterm labor.
18. Lipoic Acid Improves Sperm Quality
Lipoic acid has been been shown to increase total sperm count, sperm concentration, and mobility In infertile men.
In Addition, Lipoic Acid:
Encourages Normal Thyroid Hormone Levels
Acts as a Powerful Antioxidant
Removes Toxic Metals from the Body
Promotes Wound Healing
Promotes Normal Heart Health
Promotes Muscle Regeneration After Exercise
Protects the Brain
Can Help Reduce Side Effects of Antipsychotics
Can Protect Your Eyes and Vision
May Help with Ulcers
Encourages Healthy Skin
May Help with Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Counters Other Toxic Compounds
Natural Sources of Alpha Lipoic Acid
- liver, kidneys, and heart, contains the largest amounts of this nutrient
- broccoli, spinach, tomatoes
- flaxseed oil, chia seeds, walnuts
The Alpha Lipoic Acid That We Recommend:
Patient One Alpha Lipoic Acid
An oral dose of 600 mg once daily appears to provide the optimum risk-to-benefit ratio, however; larger doses up to 1800 mg can be taken as advised by your health practitioner.
Alpha-lipoic Acid: Health Benefits, Uses, Side Effects, Dosage & Interactions
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Alpha Lipoic Acid – The Other ALA that Works Against Neuropathy
This powerful antioxidant, Alpha Lipoic Acid, is found in foods liver, kidneys, broccoli, yeast, spinach, and potatoes. It's a great supplement to add to your diet if you’re looking to help control the signs of aging, diabetes, neuropathy – and it might even help with weight loss!
What is Alpha Lipoic Acid?
Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant, sometimes referred to as Acetate Replacing Factor.
It's a naturally occurring fatty acid found in many different types of food and our bodies can produce some of it naturally.
Alpha-lipoic acid is both hydrophilic and lipophilic, which means it can work in both water and fat-soluble medium. It can basically go anywhere on our body and function as an antioxidant.
It should not be confused with alpha-linolenic acid; the omega-3 fatty acid commonly referred to as ALA. While both of these act as antioxidants and are types of fatty acids, they have very different functions in the body.
The primary use of alpha lipoic acid helps the body break down carbohydrates and convert those carbohydrates into energy. It's especially effective against cellular damage, particularly in nerve cells. For people with diabetic neuropathy, alpha lipoic acid can help improve the ability of the neurons to conduct impulses. As an antioxidant, it helps regenerate vitamin E and vitamin C.
Alpha Lipoic Acid for Antioxidant Support
Aside from alpha-lipoic acid’s ability to revitalize vitamin C and vitamin E, it is also considered an essential cofactor of glutathione production. Glutathione is an antioxidant that mainly targets peroxides and heavy metal oxidative factors within the body. It has tentative research showing it may help prevent cancer, liver damage, dementia, and other degenerative diseases.
Alpha lipoic acid supports glutathione by stimulating the enzyme gamma-glutamylcysteine ligase necessary in the synthesis of glutathione. It can also increase the cellular uptake of cysteine, one of the limiting factors for glutathione production.
After glutathione is used in the body as an antioxidant, alpha-lipoic acid helps return the oxidized form of glutathione into its reduced, active form, sending it back out to do its job as an antioxidant again. Alpha lipoic acid might also be a nitrogen scavenger, reducing the nitric oxide free radical species.
As a final antioxidant activity, alpha-lipoic acid directly binds with copper, iron, lead, and cadmium in the body, helping to remove the heavy metals from our system. Some research shows that alpha lipoic acid may bind with mercury in the brain. However, there’s not enough research yet to show that alpha lipoic acid works as a chelating agent or helps significant heavy metal toxicity.
Alpha Lipoic Acid Benefits & Side Effects
Alpha lipoic acid is safe when used as directed. When part of your diet, foods red meats, organ meat, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, tomatoes, Brussel sprouts, and potatoes are the best way to get in your antioxidants. They contain dozens of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants we need.
When you choose a supplement, you’re getting a much higher and concentrated dose of alpha lipoic acid. It’s best to take a supplement on an empty stomach, as certain foods can lower its bioavailability and could cause nausea.
The generally accepted dosage alpha lipoic acid is 300 to 600 mg per day to improve general health.
If you are using alpha lipoic acid to help treat any condition, you need to follow the advice of your doctor and follow their directions. Some doctors may prescribe the supplement at much higher dosages, and they may advise you that a higher dosage could interact with medications. Be sure to follow the advice of your physician.
Although generally considered safe, some people may experience lower blood sugar when taking the supplement. As we discuss below, by using alpha lipoic acid when you have diabetes, the supplement can help improve blood sugar metabolism, which may cause excessively low blood sugar in people without diabetes.
Some people have reported minor interactions with medications for blood sugar control, aspirin, and medications to control heartburn (Omeprazole).
Alpha Lipoic Acid for Diabetes
Alpha lipoic acid helps lower blood sugar, and in some studies, as much as 64%. That’s a significant reduction and can help reduce lower insulin resistance, fasting blood glucose, and A1C levels. It's believed that alpha lipoic acid helps lower the amount of fat that has poorly accumulated in muscle and inhibits insulin effectiveness.
Antioxidant properties may also help people who have prediabetes avoid moving into the diabetic category. When working to increase blood sugar metabolism, the body can take care of sugars more effectively.
Doctors also know that the effects are more prominent when people follow a diet that’s lower in carbohydrates. The fewer sugars that are in the body, the easier it is for the alpha lipoic acid and the body to take care of those sugars.
Alpha Lipoic Acid for Weight Loss
While it might not have a significant impact on weight loss, alpha lipoic acid helps in a more round-about way. In various studies, some people who took the supplement lost an average of 1.5 pounds more than those taking a placebo over 14 weeks.
An additional study showed that over 23 weeks, people who took alpha lipoic acid lost 2.78 pounds more than the placebo group. Over five months, 3 lb is not a significant amount, but weight loss is an added benefit to all the other good things this does in the body.
The primary mechanism for weight loss is the suppression of the AMP-activated protein kinase. The more activated AMPk there is, the hungrier you feel. So, when alpha lipoic acid helps suppress this activity, you're less hungry – and when you aren’t hungry, you make better choices.
Other Health Benefits of Alpha Lipoic Acid
Because of the antioxidant potential of alpha lipoic acid, it can help many health conditions. But, just because it helps doesn’t mean it can replace medication or provide a lifesaving difference. Many other supplements are much more useful for things high blood pressure, digestive problems, immune support and heart disease.
Alpha lipoic acid is very good for some things, however. Anti-aging, diabetes, and inflammation markers reduce when taking alpha lipoic acid.
Alpha Lipoic Acid For Skin
Several studies show that increasing healthy fats help skin elasticity and reducing the signs of aging, such as fine lines, wrinkles, and splotching. In conjunction with the glutathione reactivation, the antioxidant capacity of alpha lipoic acid helps reduce skin damage and the signs of aging.
When alpha lipoic acid gets added to skin creams, it helps reduce wrinkles and offers protection against UV radiation.
Alpha Lipoic Acid Nerve Pain And Neuropathy
Alpha lipoic acid is effective at helping protect the myelin sheaths around the nerves, which can help reduce pain caused by diabetes and slow the onset of neuropathy. Although taking the supplements cannot reverse the damage, it can help mitigate some of the side effects.
Other studies show that the pain and numbness caused by carpal tunnel syndrome reduced when supplementing with alpha lipoic acid. Additionally, taking the supplement before and after surgery for the carpal tunnel improves the outcome. Doctors suspect the alpha lipoic acid helps the body repair the damage done by the pinched nerve and surgery.
Alpha Lipoic Acid And Inflammation
In people who experience inflammation because of arthritis, autoimmune issues, and injury, alpha lipoic acid may help reduce the markers for the C – reactive protein. This is especially interesting to doctors who study the brain, as some of the markers for inflammation and free radical damage connect to Alzheimer’s disease.
One of the study areas for alpha lipoic acid and inflammation is in the connection to the autoimmune condition Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
Alpha Lipoic Acid Side Effects Thyroid
Alpha lipoic acid effect on inflammation and the inhibition of the NF-kB signaling pathways that signal the need for inflammation are lower when taking alpha lipoic acid. Other studies also show that endothelial dysfunction associated with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis improves when taking alpha lipoic acid.
If you have thyroid issues, you should discuss with your rheumatologist the specifics for taking alpha lipoic acid. Some studies show that alpha lipoic acid can reduce the conversion of T4 to T3 when taking certain medications. Some clinicians recommend taking your thyroid medication and the supplement at least four hours apart to avoid this problem.
How To Take Alpha Lipoic Acid
The best time to take alpha lipoic acid is on an empty stomach, preferably earlier in the day. This gives the body a chance to work the antioxidant through your system when it is most effective. The average dose is 300 to 600 mg per day, although as much as 1,200 mg per day were used in some clinical studies. Do not take this supplement alongside medications.
The best alpha lipoic acid foods are organ meats, yeasts, broccoli, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, spinach, and other green leafy vegetables. In general, two servings of these types of foods per day will provide the average person their daily needs about lipoic acid.
However, if you are experiencing health difficulties, such as diabetes or excessive weight, adding an alpha lipoic acid supplement may be beneficial. Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting the supplements if you have any health problems or are taking medications to avoid side effects.
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Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)
Alpha-lipoic acid or ALA is a naturally occurring compound that's made in the body. It serves vital functions at the cellular level, such as energy production.
As long as you're healthy, the body can produce all the ALA it needs for these purposes. Despite that fact, there has been a lot of recent interest in using ALA supplements.
Advocates of ALA make claims that range from beneficial effects for treating conditions such as diabetes and HIV to enhancing weight loss.
Research on the effects of ALA supplementation is sparse. What there is, though, does suggest some possible benefits. Here is what's known about the potential health benefits of using alpha-lipoic acid supplements.
ALA is an antioxidant. Antioxidants protect against damage to the body's cells.
There are food sources of ALA such as yeast, organ meats liver and heart, spinach, broccoli, and potatoes. However, ALA from food does not appear to produce a noticeable increase in the level of free ALA in the body.
Some people take ALA supplements with the intent to improve a variety of health conditions. Scientific evidence for the health benefit of supplemental ALA has been inconclusive.
Studies show that about 30% to 40% of the oral dose of an ALA supplement is absorbed. ALA may be better absorbed if it is taken on an empty stomach.
While studies are still sparse, there is some evidence that ALA may have at least two positive benefits for individuals with type 2 diabetes.
A few studies have suggested that alpha-lipoic acid supplements may enhance the body's ability to use its own insulin to lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.
ALA may help reduce the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy — nerve damage that can be caused by diabetes.
In Europe, ALA has been used for years to provide relief from the pain, burning, tingling, and numbing caused by diabetic neuropathy.
In particular, one large study strongly suggested that large intravenous doses of ALA were effective at relieving symptoms. But the evidence for oral doses is not as strong.
More research is needed to establish the effectiveness of oral ALA supplements for diabetic neuropathy.
ALA has been suggested as a potential aid in stopping or slowing the damage done by a variety of other health conditions from HIV to liver disease. However, much of the research is still early and evidence isn't conclusive.
There has also been recent interest in supplemental ALA for weight loss. But again, there is no evidence that ALA has any effect on weight loss in humans, and more research needs to be done.
Side effects from using ALA supplements appear to be rare and mild, such as skin rash. However, little is known about the possible effect of long-term use of ALA supplements. And there are no dosage recommendations and little data on the potential effect of large doses taken over time.
ALA should not be used without a recommendation from your doctor if you take insulin or other medications to lower blood sugar.
It's possible that it can enhance the effect of these drugs, leading to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Discuss the use of supplemental ALA with your doctor first.
Your doctor may recommend that you increase monitoring of blood sugar levels. The doctor may also want to make an adjustment in your medication.
Because no studies have been done on the effect of using ALA during pregnancy, you should not use it if pregnant. Also, there are no data about its use by children, so children should not take ALA supplements.
Linus Pauling Institute: “Lipoic Acid.”
University of Maryland Medical Center: “Alpha-lipoic acid.”
UC Berkeley Wellness Letter: “Alpha Lipoic Acid.”
Drugs.com: “Alpha-Lipoic Acid.”
How Stuff Works: “Alpha Lipoic Acid and Weight Loss.”
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: “Diabetes and CAM: A Focus on Dietary Supplements.”
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Can Alpha-Lipoic Acid Aid in Weight loss, Diabetes, and Nerve pain?
Alpha-lipoic acid is a compound found naturally inside every cell of the human body. Its primary role is to convert blood sugar (glucose) into energy using oxygen, a process referred to as aerobic metabolism. Alpha-lipoic acid is also considered an antioxidant, meaning that it can neutralize harmful compounds called free radicals that damage cells at the genetic level.
What makes alpha-lipoic acid so unique is that it is soluble in both water and fat. That means that it can deliver energy immediately or warehouse it for future use.
Alpha-lipoic acid can also recycle “used” antioxidants, including vitamin C, vitamin E, and a potent amino acid compound known as glutathione. Whenever these antioxidants neutralize a free radical, they destabilize and become free radicals themselves. Alpha-lipoic acid helps restore them by absorbing excess electrons and converting them to the back to their stable form.
Alpha-lipoic acid is sometimes taken as a supplement under the presumption it can improve certain metabolic functions, including fat burning, collagen production, and blood glucose control. There is growing evidence of at least some of these claims.
In addition to supplements, alpha-lipoic acid is synthesized in the body and found in many of the foods we eat, especially Brussels sprouts, spinach, broccoli, peas, brewer's yeast, potato, yams, carrots, rice bran, and organ meats.
Much of the research involving alpha-lipoic acid has been centered on the prevention of diabetes and the management of diabetic nerve pain.
In addition, many alternative practitioners contend that alpha-lipoic acid can prevent or treat a multitude of health conditions, including alcoholic liver disease, HIV, Alzheimer's disease, bipolar disorder, cardiac arrhythmia, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis, premature labor, schizophrenia, and erectile dysfunction, among others. To date, there is little evidence to support these claims.
Here are some of the more promising findings related to alpha-lipoic acid use:
It has long been presumed that alpha-lipoic acid can aid in the control of glucose by increasing the speed in which the blood sugar is metabolized. This could potentially aid in the treatment of diabetes, a disease characterized by abnormally high blood glucose levels.
A 2018 systematic review and meta-analysis of 20 randomized controlled trials of people with metabolic disorders (some had type 2 diabetes, others had other metabolic disorders) found that lipoic acid supplementation lowered fasting blood glucose, insulin concentration, insulin resistance, and blood hemoglobin A1c levels.
Some scientists believe that oral supplements will not provide the therapeutic effect needed to prevent or treat diabetes and have begun investigating whether an intravenous (IV) infusion might help.
A 2011 study from China provided a compelling proof-of-concept of the hypothesis: 12 obese adults with prediabetes experienced improvements in insulin resistance after two weeks of daily 600-mg alpha-lipoic acid infusions.
While this approach would be impractical in clinical practice, it does hint at the potential benefit of alpha-lipoic acid in preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes. By contrast, there is no evidence that the supplement can prevent or treat type 1 diabetes, the form of the disease typically associated with an immune system malfunction.
Neuropathy is the medical term used to describe the pain, numbness, and abnormal sensations caused by nerve damage. Oftentimes, the damage is caused by the oxidative stress placed on the nerves by chronic diseases such as diabetes, Lyme disease, shingles, thyroid disease, kidney failure, and HIV.
It is believed by some that alpha-lipoic acid, given in large enough doses, can counter this stress by exerting potent antioxidant activity. There has been evidence of this effect in people with diabetic neuropathy, a potentially debilitating condition experienced in people with advanced diabetes.
A 2012 review of studies from the Netherlands concluded that a daily 600-mg intravenous dose of alpha-lipoic acid given over three weeks provided “significant and clinically relevant reduction in neuropathic pain.”
As with the previous diabetes studies, oral alpha-lipoic acid supplements were generally less effective or had no effect at all.
Other studies have explored the effect alpha-lipoic acid might have in treating other forms of neuropathy. To date, there have been no suggestions of a benefit, either in dealing with infectious causes of neuropathy or neuropathy induces by medications (such as chemotherapy).
Currently, only Germany has approved the use of intravenous alpha-lipoic acid for the treatment of diabetic neuropathy.
Alpha-lipoic acid's ability to enhance calorie burning and promote weight loss has been exaggerated by many diet gurus and supplements manufacturers. With that being said, there is growing evidence that alpha-lipoic acid can influence weight, albeit modestly.
A 2017 review of studies from the Yale University found that alpha-lipoic acid supplements, ranging in dose from 300 to 1,800 mg daily, helped prompt an average weight loss of 2.8 pounds compared to a placebo.
There was no association between the alpha-lipoic supplement dose and the amount of weight loss. Moreover, the duration of treatment appears to influence a person's body mass index (BMI), but not the person's actual weight.
What this means is that, while it appears you can only lose so much weight with alpha-lipoic acid, your body composition may improve as fat is gradually replaced by lean muscle.
Alpha-lipoic acid has long been believed to influence weight and health by altering the lipid (fat) composition in the blood. This includes increasing “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol while lowering “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides. Recent research suggests this may not be so.
In a 2011 study from Korea, 180 adults provided 1,200 to 1,800 mg of alpha-lipoic acid lost 21 percent more weight than the placebo group after 20 weeks but experienced no improvements in total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, or triglycerides.
In fact, higher doses of alpha-lipoic acid conferred to increases in total cholesterol and LDL in the study participants.
Cosmetics manufacturers often to boast that their products benefit from the “anti-aging” properties of alpha-lipoic acid. Research suggests that there may some credence to these claims. A review article notes that it is a powerful antioxidant and has been studied for its protective effects against radiation damage.
Alpha-lipoic acid is generally considered safe when taken as an oral supplement or used as a topical ointment. However, there is little research exploring the long-term safety of alpha-lipoic acid, including at what point the supplement may become toxic. There have, in fact, been several reports of seizures and vomiting in children who have taken doses of 2,400 mg or greater.
Common side effects of alpha-lipoic acid may include a headache, skin rash, muscle cramp, or a tingling “pins and needles” sensation. The side effects tend to be mild and will typically resolve once treatment is stopped.
Alpha-lipoic acid can decrease blood sugar levels. If you are taking diabetes medications, inform your doctor so that the drug dose can be adjusted if needed.
Animal studies strongly suggest that alpha lipoic acid can alter thyroid hormone levels. As such, people taking thyroid medications such as levothyroxine should be monitored by their doctor if alpha lipoic acid is being used.
Due to the lack of safety research, alpha-lipoic acid should not be used in children, pregnant women, or nursing mothers.
While considered safe, there are no guidelines directing the appropriate use of alpha-lipoic acid. Most oral supplements are sold in formulations ranging from 100 to 600 mg. the bulk of the current evidence, a maximum daily dose of up to 1,800 mg is presumed to be safe in adults.
With that being said, everything from body weight and age to liver function and kidney function can impact what is safe for you as an individual. As a general rule of thumb, err on the side of caution and always opt for a lower dose.
Alpha lipoic acid supplements can be found online and in many health food stores and drugstores. For maximum absorption, the supplements should be taken on an empty stomach.
As a dietary supplement, alpha-lipoic acid is not subject to strict regulation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
To ensure you are getting a quality supplement, opt for brands that have undergone voluntary testing by an independent certifying body the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), ConsumerLab, and NSF International.
By doing so, you can be better assured that the supplements contain the listed ingredients and are manufactured to the highest quality standards.
Although almost all food contains some alpha-lipoic acid, the level tends to be small. The only exceptions are organ meats and certain leafy and root vegetables. As such, alpha-lipoic acid is not considered an essential nutrient because you don't need it to obtain it from food.
Alpha-lipoic acid is instead synthesized endogenously (in the body) through a series of biochemical processes involving fatty acids, proteins, and an enzyme known as lipoic acid synthase. If you eat a nutritious diet, your body will have all the raw materials it needs to make alpha-lipoic acid.
An alpha-lipoic acid deficiency is practically unheard of. Rare genetic mutations have been described in medical literature in which the body is unable to produce lipoic acid synthase. It is estimated that fewer than one of every 1,000,000 people are affected.