Top 6 Awesome Benefits of Alpha-lipoic Acid for Your Skin
Alpha-lipoic acid is produced in our bodies and is a potent antioxidant. It is also extremely beneficial to your skin; but how? To find out more, keep reading!
Are you getting all the nutrients you require to keep your skin glowing and texture-free? Is your skincare up to date? Are your dermatologist visits in your schedule? After all of this, are you still not satisfied with the health of your skin? Maybe it’s time you try something new then– alpha-lipoic acid for the skin.
Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is an organic compound that surprisingly is already found in our body. It is made by the mitochondria, commonly referred to as the “powerhouse of the cell,” and is an antioxidant often found in skincare products. The amount of ALA produced in your body is relatively small compared to how much you get it externally; therefore, it is essential to try and incorporate it into your diet as much as possible.
Alpha-lipoic acid, a compound said to be beneficial to the skin, but how? Before answering that question, let’s first talk about the skin, its needs, and how to care for it.
What is Alpha-lipoic Acid?
Alpha-lipoic acid is an organic compound that is produced by the mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell. The mitochondria contain enzymes that convert food into energy, and the ALA is needed for some of these enzymes to function.
ALA has strong antioxidant properties and can protect your body against radical damage, where free radicals, also known as unstable atoms, damage cells and cause illness and aging. Most antioxidants are either just fat-soluble or water-soluble; ALA is both fat and water-soluble and can therefore act on every cell and tissue in the body.
Humans produce only a small amount of ALA in our bodies, and since it doesn’t suffice, we turn to certain foods and supplements. Consuming ALA has been linked to various benefits like lowered blood sugar levels, reduced inflammation, slowed skin aging, and improved nerve functioning .
Information regarding the benefits of ALA for the skin is limited, but the few present suggest that it is incredibly beneficial to your skin health.
Benefits of Alpha-lipoic Acid for Skin
Exposure to UV rays can cause premature aging of the skin. Other signs of sun damage caused by UV rays are wrinkles, leathery skin, actinic keratosis, liver spots, and solar elastosis.
The antioxidant property of ALA makes it an effective UV protectant. Since there is little to no ALA, found on the surface of our skin, applying a layer of ALA can act as a protective layer .
Although further research is required, one study suggests that ALA with a mixture of alpha-tocopherol can effectively deliver antioxidants into the skin .
The dermis layer of the skin is primarily made up of collagen and elastin, and as you age, it becomes weaker, thinner, and less elastic. This often causes wrinkles and saggy skin. Prolonged exposure to the sun also causes the same issues, and so do other factors like dress and pollution.
ALA’s potent antioxidant property has the potential of either reversing or preventing the onset of such conditions. The following study suggested that ALA can be a powerful anti-aging agent 
Reverse effects of sun damage
One of the significant effects of sun damage is sunspots. Sunspots are dark spots that appear on the skin’s surface due to prolonged exposure to the sun. This could also be referred to as hyperpigmentation.
An animal study conducted on a guinea pig suggested that ALA can be used to reduce the signs of sun damage in the form of sunspots or hyperpigmentation. They administeredALA topically with the use of the new nanocapsule technology. Further studies with humans are required to confirm this hypothesis .
As discussed, wrinkles are often a result of prolonged exposure to the sun and aging. ALA’s property of preventing sun damage through UV rays might help prevent wrinkles. Apart from that, one study examined the effect of ALA on facial wrinkles and noticed an almost complete reduction of lines around the eyes and upper lips.
However, further research is required .
Improved wound healing
ALA might also be used topically post-surgery to speed up wound healing. It might also help reduce scarring that might follow. An experiment based on this was conducted on rats, and the group that was administered ALA topically showed better results compared to the control group .
Reduced skin damage caused by smoking
Smoking is injurious to your lungs and health in general; it is also harmful to your skin. The nicotine causes the blood vessels to narrow, reducing oxygen flow and nutrients to skin cells. The other chemicals can also play a role in damaging your skin.
Most of this damage is oxidative damage, and since ALA is an antioxidant, it is known to prevent or reduce damage caused by smoking. This study was conducted on rats and requires further research with human subjects .
Side Effects of Alpha-lipoic Acid
Alpha-lipoic acid is generally safe to consume orally and used topically without experiencing any side effects. However, avoiding consumption in high doses is a good idea since there is limited research regarding consuming ALA in high doses.
Although there is no research, a few side effects that have been recorded are,
- Mild nausea,
- Rashes (if applied topically), and
Therefore, always consult a doctor before including ALA in your list of supplements to consume or in your skincare routine.
A standard footnote would be to keep ALA away from children and to avoid consumption if you’re pregnant or lactating.
ALA supplements can lower your blood sugar and be risky to consume if you have a thiamine deficiency; therefore, keep your doctor in the loop of your medications and conditions. Also, keep in mind to mention to your doctor any other supplements or medications you might be taking since ALA can interact with them
AlA supplements can interact with diabetes medication and chemotherapy drugs. The efficacy of blood thinners and thyroid medicine might also be affected due to ALA supplements.
Sources of Alpha-lipoic Acid
Although alpha-lipoic acid is produced in our body, we require it from external sources as well, and the main reason for that is the amount it is produced in.
- Brussels sprouts
- Rice barn
- Red meat
- Organ meat
At times, consuming nutrients only through food sources doesn’t seem to be enough since your body might not be able to absorb them for various reasons. When that is the case, using supplements would be your best bet. ALA supplements are safe and can be consumed regularly. However, you will have to consult a doctor regarding the dosage since it might vary based on your needs.
Skin, It’s Needs, and How to Care for It
The skin is the body’s largest organ and comprises three main layers– epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis. It is one of the only organs that is exposed to the external environment as much as it is and is therefore prone to problems like skin cancer, acne, wrinkles, rashes, acne, etc. The constant exposure to pollution, sun rays, smog, and other pollutants can often negatively affect your skin in ways you might not realize. Although it seems like no immediate harm is done, you will notice skin flaws and conditions that were a result of this exposure in the long run.
Most of these conditions are preventable; if and only if you’re cautious about your routine and if you’re making sure you’re caring for your skin the way it needs to be cared for. With regards to routine, you must watch your diet, control your stress levels, and stay protected from the sun rays at all times.
Skincare also plays a vital role in preventing such conditions. Skincare is often custom-made based on your skin type, texture, etc. A few basic instructions you’d have to follow regardless of your skincare routine is to,
- Use sunscreen every time you step out (irrespective of whether the sun is out or not)
- Be gentle when you wash and dry your face (always pat dry)
- Keep your skin moisturized
- Do not use harsh scrubs
- Limit your bath time ( Hot water and prolonged exposure to water can strip the skin of its natural oils)
- Avoid strong soaps
All of those tips might help take care of your skin externally; internally, you will need to pay a little more attention to your lifestyle and diet choices.
Your lifestyle can tell a lot about your skin.
Well, our lifestyle, decisions we make and other choices that we might take can affect our skin in ways you prolly wouldn’t have imagined off. You can have the best diet and best skincare routine and still have skin problems. Make a few lifestyle changes, and that might help.
- Protect your skin from the sun
- Limit your alcohol consumption
- Get ample exercise
- Avoid stress
- Get plenty of sleep
- Make healthy diet choices
- Avoid smoking
Our skin has various roles it plays in our body; however, the most common one is that of a barrier. It protects us from bacteria, viruses, and other organisms. Your skin can do its job as a barrier and protect the rest of your body while simultaneously looking its best, only when you feed it well from the inside.
Having at least small quantities of these nutrients in your diet every day can start to make a drastic change in your overall skin health. However, even though we take utmost care of our skin, we might sometimes just have to turn to other products, one of them being alpha-lipoic acid.
Does alpha-lipoic acid brighten skin?
No, alpha-lipoic acid doesn’t necessarily brighten skin, but it can lighten dark spots that are caused due to prolonged exposure to the sun. It can get rid of hyperpigmentation and other effects of sun exposure.
Is alpha-lipoic acid good for hair growth?
Yes, alpha-lipoic acid is good for hair growth. One of the benefits of alpha-lipoic acid for hair is that it can be used as a medicinal treatment to combat hair loss caused due to chemotherapy.
What are the benefits of taking lipoic acid?
There are various benefits of taking alpha-lipoic acid. It is good for,
- Skin health
- Hair health
- Weight loss
- Memory loss
- Heart health
Can you use vitamin C and alpha-lipoic acid together?
Although there was no interaction between vitamin C supplements and alpha-lipoic acid, it is always best to contact your healthcare provider before consuming any two supplements together.
Your skin can reflect your health, and therefore taking care of it becomes a priority. Once you notice and start taking care of your skin, you might realize that you require something different to help your skin.
Alpha-lipoic acid is one such ingredient that might be the answer to all your problems. This compound is naturally produced in the body and has potent antioxidant properties. It not only helps prevent damage caused due to oxidative stress but can also help smoothen out your skin and give it a more youthful appearance.
Yes, it sounds like a dream, but remember to consult your doctor before taking any supplements or using any topical creams.
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- Yıldırım Baş, Funda et al. “Effect of alpha lipoic acid on smoking-induced skin damage.” Cutaneous and ocular toxicology vol. 36,1 (2017): 67-73.