Top 9 Benefits Of Alpha-lipoic Acid

Dive in for alpha-lipoic acid benefits, side effects, and its recommended dosage for better wellbeing.

In recent years, alpha-lipoic acid benefits have grabbed many eyeballs! It’s a natural compound that functions as a potent antioxidant in the body. Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is produced naturally by your body, but it can also be found in several food products and food supplements. Its principal function is to use oxygen to convert blood sugar (glucose) into energy, a process known as aerobic metabolism. 

Alpha-lipoic acid is also an antioxidant, which means it can neutralize dangerous molecules called free radicals, which cause genetic damage in cells. Let us take a step further to review the benefits, side effects, and uses of alpha-lipoic acid, all backed by scientific evidence!

What is Alpha-lipoic acid?

If you are someone who wants to know more about alpha-lipoic acid, then this is a brief introduction for you. All human cells contain alpha-lipoic acid, an organic molecule. It’s produced inside the mitochondrion, also known as the cell’s engine, where it assists enzymes in converting nutrients into energy [1].

Furthermore, it possesses potent antioxidant effects. Because alpha-lipoic acid is water and fat-soluble, it can work in any cell or tissue in the body. The majority of other antioxidants, on the other hand, are either fat- or water-soluble [2].

Vitamin C, for example, is solely water-soluble, whereas vitamin E is fat-soluble.

Lower blood sugar levels, reduced inflammation, delayed skin aging, and enhanced neurological function have all been related to alpha-lipoic acid’s antioxidant effects.

Alpha-lipoic acid is a supplement that is sometimes taken in the hopes of improving specific metabolic activities such as fat burning, collagen formation, and blood glucose regulation. At the very least, some of these claims are gaining traction. People also opt for thermic foods to speed up their metabolism.

What is Alpha-lipoic acid used for?

The control of diabetes and the therapy of diabetic nerve pain has been the focus of much alpha-lipoic acid research. Furthermore, many alternative healthcare providers claim that alpha-lipoic acid can prevent or treat a variety of illnesses, including:

  • Liver cirrhosis
  • HIV
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Bipolar disorder 
  • Cardiac arrhythmia 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Premature labor
  • Schizophrenia
  • Erectile dysfunction, among others.

There is currently very little evidence to back up these statements.

Since it protects every cell in your body from free radicals, ALA is known as the “universal antioxidant.”

Benefits of Alpha-lipoic acid

Alpha-lipoic acid appears to protect blood vessels, the brain, neurons, and organs like the heart and liver by acting as a remedy to oxidative stress and inflammation. This means it has a wide range of health benefits, from naturally treating Alzheimer’s disease to managing liver conditions. Here are some of the more noteworthy alpha-lipoic acid benefits:

Alpha-lipoic acid benefits for skin

Alpha-lipoic acid has been demonstrated in studies to help fight the indications of skin aging. In one human research, scientists discovered that applying an alpha-lipoic acid lotion to the skin reduced fine lines, wrinkles, and skin roughness while having no negative side effects [3].

When alpha-lipoic acid is applied to the skin, it absorbs into the inner layers of the skin and provides antioxidant protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays [4]. Furthermore, alpha-lipoic acid improves the concentrations of other antioxidants, such as glutathione, which protect the skin from damage and may help to lessen the effects of aging [5]. You can also give a hand at other natural products like kokum butter and vitamin e for glowing skin.

Alpha-lipoic acid benefits for hair

Alopecia is one of the most prevalent chemotherapy side effects for which there are no therapies. The studies performed on rats indicate that Dihydrolipoyl Histidinate (DHLHZn), a derivative of alpha-lipoic acid, reduces chemotherapy-induced baldness, implying that this could be used as a medicinal treatment to combat this prevalent adverse effect of chemotherapy [6].

Alpha-lipoic acid benefits for weight loss

People often go for different ways like trying peptides for weight loss or anabolic fasting to lose the extra pounds. You can also try including alpha-lipoic acid in your regime.

Alpha-lipoic acid has been demonstrated in studies to help with weight loss in many ways. It has been shown in animal experiments to lower the activity of the enzyme AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which is found in the hypothalamus of the brain. When AMPK is more active, it can make you feel more hungry [7].

Suppressing AMPK activity, on the other hand, may increase the number of calories your body burns during rest. Animals given alpha-lipoic acid burned more calories as a result [8]. Human studies, on the other hand, suggest that alpha-lipoic acid has only a minimal impact on weight loss.

For 14 weeks, individuals who took an alpha-lipoic acid supplementation dropped 1.52 pounds (0.69 kg) more than those who took a placebo, according to a review of 12 research studies [9].

Alpha-lipoic acid benefits for PCOS

PCOS is a complex and multifaceted disease that presents itself as a variety of clinical, metabolic, and endocrine disorders. It is a leading cause of infertility in reproductive women, and it has a significant impact on individuals’ health and wellbeing [10].

Several small studies have found that supplementing with inositol and alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) can help PCOS women with the menstrual cycle, ovulation, and hyperinsulinemia [10].

Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA) is a naturally occurring antioxidant compound that has the potential to help people with PCOS. However, there isn’t enough evidence to support this approach.

Alpha-lipoic acid benefits for fertility

Infertility is a growing health problem that may depend on either female or malefactors. Men and women’s reproductive life cycles are affected by oxidative stress (OS), which is caused by a disruption in the balance between reactive oxygen species (ROS) and beneficial antioxidants [11]. Researchers investigated if alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), one of the most commonly used oral supplements, has an evidence-based benefit in female and male infertility [11].

The research concluded that in the field of couple infertility, ALA is a potential novel compound. More clinical trials are needed to expand its application in clinical practice. Its regular prescription reduces pelvic discomfort in endometriosis, normalizes menstrual flow and metabolic problems, and improves sperm quality in both subfertile women and men.

Alpha-lipoic acid benefits for diabetes

According to WHO, more than 400 million people worldwide are diagnosed with diabetes. High blood sugar levels are a common symptom of uncontrolled diabetes. This can lead to health issues such as vision loss, heart disease, and renal failure if left untreated.

As it has been found to lower blood glucose levels in both humans and animals, alpha-lipoic acid has become recognized as a potential diabetes treatment. It has been shown in animal experiments to reduce blood sugar levels by up to 64% [12].

It has also been found in other studies in individuals with metabolic syndrome to reduce insulin sensitivity and lower fasting blood glucose and HbA1c levels.

Alpha-lipoic acid benefits for neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy is a serious public health issue. It’s identified by symptoms and evidence of peripheral nerve damage in diabetic patients who have ruled out other causes of neuropathy [13].

Because of its many antioxidant characteristics, alpha-lipoic acid appears to postpone or reverse peripheral diabetic neuropathy. Reduced glutathione, an important endogenous antioxidant, is increased by alpha-lipoic acid treatment. A dose of 600 mg alpha-lipoic acid has been demonstrated to reduce neuropathic deficiencies in clinical trials [13].

Alpha-lipoic acid benefits for memory loss

Memory loss is a typical issue among the elderly. Damage caused by oxidative stress is thought to be a major factor in memory loss [14].

Since alpha-lipoic acid is a potent antioxidant, researchers have looked at its capacity to prevent the advancement of memory disorders like Alzheimer’s disease [15]. By neutralizing free radicals and lowering inflammation, alpha-lipoic acid appears to decrease the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in both people and laboratory tests.

Alpha-lipoic acid benefits for heart health

The antioxidant effects of alpha-lipoic acid have been found to lessen various heart disease risk factors in a combination of lab, animal, and human studies. First, alpha-lipoic acid’s antioxidant capabilities allow it to neutralize free radicals and minimize oxidative stress, which has been related to damage that can increase the risk of heart disease [16].

Second, it has been demonstrated to help with endothelial dysfunction, which is a disease in which blood vessels are unable to dilate adequately, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke [16]. Furthermore, a review of research indicated that individuals with the metabolic disease who took an alpha-lipoic acid supplement had decreased triglyceride and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels [17].

What are the side effects of Alpha-lipoic acid?

Alpha-lipoic acid is usually thought to be safe, with few to no negative side effects.

People may develop mild symptoms such as nausea, rashes, or itching in some circumstances. Higher doses are not advised since there is no evidence that they offer significant benefits.

Furthermore, animal studies have discovered that excessively high doses of alpha-lipoic acid accelerate oxidation, alter liver enzymes, and put extra pressure on liver and breast tissues [18]. Only a few studies have looked at alpha-lipoic acid’s safety in youngsters and pregnant women. These people should not take it unless their healthcare physician advises them to.

If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor before taking alpha-lipoic acid because it may interfere with other blood sugar-lowering medications. Alpha-lipoic acid has side effects on the thyroid. Thyroid-regulating drugs, such as Levothyroxine — Alpha-lipoic acid may reduce thyroid hormone levels. 

Thyroid hormone users who additionally take alpha-lipoic acid should have their blood hormone levels and thyroid function tests thoroughly monitored.

There is limited research on alpha-lipoic acid’s safety in toddlers and expectant mothers. These individuals should not take it unless their healthcare physician advises them to.

What foods have alpha-lipoic acid?

The greatest approach to acquiring any nutrients is from genuine food sources, as this is how your body recognizes to absorb and use different compounds. Since ALA is attached to protein molecules, it can be found in a variety of plant and animal sources. Because the amount of ALA in different meals varies so much depending on where they’re grown, the quality of the soil, how fresh they are, and how they’re prepared, it’s difficult to determine how many are in each. 

Although we know that vegetables and certain organ meats seem to have the highest levels of ALA, there hasn’t been much research done to draw judgments about how much ALA is found in different foods. So here’s a small list of foods to pick that are high in alpha-lipoic acid:

VEGETARIAN SOURCE NON VEGETARIAN SOURCE
Spinach  Beef liver and heart
Broccoli  Beef kidney
Yam  Red meat
Potatoes   
Carrots   

How to take alpha-lipoic acid?

Alpha-lipoic acid is available as a supplement in many health stores and on the web. Supplements might have 1,000 times the amount of alpha-lipoic acid found in meals.

Because certain foods can reduce the acid’s absorption, it’s recommended to take alpha-lipoic supplements on an empty stomach. Although there is no specific dosage, the majority of evidence suggests that 300–600 mg is enough and safe [19]. Alternatively, you can use the directions on the bottle’s back.

Alpha-lipoic acid may be required in larger quantities by people with diabetes complications or cognitive impairments. In these situations, it’s better to consult your doctor for the dosage. Alpha-lipoic acid tablets and powder are the prominent forms of supplements available.

Without consulting a doctor, do not take different types of alpha-lipoic acid (tablets and capsules) at the same time. When you combine multiple formulations, you run the danger of overdosing!

Alpha-lipoic acid: Morning v/s Before Bed

Is it best to take alpha-lipoic acid before bed or in the morning? Many people who are trying to reduce weight with these pills pose this question. Because ALA lowers blood pressure, taking it first thing in the morning can be counterproductive unless it’s accompanied by a hearty breakfast.

Even if your blood sugar drops and you feel a bit light-headed, it doesn’t seem to be a huge deal unless you’re diabetic, therefore taking alpha-lipoic acid before night seems to have greater benefits (diabetics should consult their physician before using ALA at all). It may make it easier for people to fall asleep. Furthermore, ALA supplements can help with glycemic management and fat burning during sleeping.

Hence, alpha-lipoic acid can be taken before bedtime for optimal health benefits.

Wrapping up

Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant-rich chemical molecule. Your body produces it in small amounts, but it can also be found in foods and is available as a supplement.

Alpha-lipoic acid can provide benefits for diabetics, skin health, memory, heart health, and weight loss. Talk to your doctor before taking alpha-lipoic acid supplements.

FAQs

What are the benefits of taking lipoic acid? 

Alpha-lipoic acid has powerful antioxidant qualities that may help to reduce inflammation and age spots, improve nerve function, lower cardiovascular risk factors, and prevent the advancement of memory loss issues.

How much alpha-lipoic acid should you take a day? 

Data shows that taking 300-600 mg of ALA every day for three months maintains and improves functional eyesight in type 1 and type 2 diabetes patients, respectively, and also helps with neuropathic symptoms [19].

What should you not take with alpha-lipoic acid? 

You should avoid the combination of other medications with this supplement as it can lead to adverse effects. Always take advice from your doctor.

Is alpha-lipoic acid better than vitamin C?

Alpha-lipoic acid, a fairly unknown antioxidant, may be more effective than vitamins C and E since it is both water and fat-soluble, unlike vitamin C, which is only water-soluble.

References

  1. Packer, Lester, and Enrique Cadenas. “Lipoic acid: energy metabolism and redox regulation of transcription and cell signaling.” Journal of clinical biochemistry and nutrition vol. 48,1 (2011): 26-32. 
  2. Golbidi, Saeid et al. “Diabetes, and alpha-lipoic Acid.” Frontiers in pharmacology vol. 2 69.  (2011). 
  3. Sherif, Saly et al. “The clinical efficacy of cosmeceutical application of liquid crystalline nanostructured dispersions of alpha-lipoic acid as anti-wrinkle.” European journal of pharmaceutics and biopharmaceutics : official journal of Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Pharmazeutische Verfahrenstechnik e.V vol. 86,2 (2014): 251-9.
  4. Matsugo, S et al. “Decomposition of alpha-lipoic acid derivatives by photoirradiation-formation of dihydrolipoic acid from alpha-lipoic acid-.” Biochemistry and molecular biology international vol. 38,1 (1996): 51-9. 
  5. Puizina-Ivić, Neira, et al. “Modern approach to topical treatment of aging skin.” Collegium antropologicum vol. 34,3 (2010): 1145-53.
  6. Hagiwara, Satoshi et al. “The α-lipoic acid derivative sodium zinc dihydrolipoyl histidine reduces chemotherapy-induced alopecia in a rat model: a pilot study.” Surgery today vol. 41,5 (2011): 693-7. 
  7. Kola, B. “Role of AMP-activated protein kinase in the control of appetite.” Journal of neuroendocrinology vol. 20,7 (2008): 942-51. 
  8. Wang, Yi et al. “alpha-Lipoic acid increase energy expenditure by enhancing adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase-peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma coactivator-1alpha signaling in the skeletal muscle of aged mice.” Metabolism: clinical and experimental vol. 59,7 (2010): 967-76.
  9. Namazi, Nazli et al. “Alpha-lipoic acid supplement in obesity treatment: A systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials.” Clinical nutrition (Edinburgh, Scotland) vol. 37,2 (2018): 419-428. 
  10. Lei, Wenwen et al. “Effects of inositol and alpha-lipoic acid combination for polycystic ovary syndrome: A protocol for systematic review and meta-analysis.” Medicine vol. 99,30 (2020): e20696.
  11. Di Tucci, Chiara et al. “The role of alpha lipoic acid in female and male infertility: a systematic review.” Gynecological endocrinology: the official journal of the International Society of Gynecological Endocrinology vol. 37,6 (2021): 497-505. 
  12. Streeper, R S et al. “Differential effects of lipoic acid stereoisomers on glucose metabolism in insulin-resistant skeletal muscle.” The American journal of physiology vol. 273,1 Pt 1 (1997): E185-91.
  13.  Vallianou, Natalia et al. “Alpha-lipoic Acid and diabetic neuropathy.” The review of diabetic studies: RDS vol. 6,4 (2009): 230-6. 
  14. Haddadi, Mohammad et al. “Brain aging, memory impairment and oxidative stress: a study in Drosophila melanogaster.” Behavioral brain research vol. 259 (2014): 60-9. 
  15. Maczurek, Annette et al. “Lipoic acid as an anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.” Advanced drug delivery reviews vol. 60,13-14 (2008): 1463-70. 
  16. Skibska, Beata, and Anna Goraca. “The protective effect of lipoic acid on selected cardiovascular diseases caused by age-related oxidative stress.” Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity vol. 2015 (2015): 313021.
  17. Akbari, Maryam et al. “The effects of alpha-lipoic acid supplementation on glucose control and lipid profiles among patients with metabolic diseases: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” Metabolism: clinical and experimental vol. 87 (2018): 56-69. 
  18. Cakatay, Ufuk, and Refik Kayali. “Plasma protein oxidation in aging rats after alpha-lipoic acid administration.” Biogerontology vol. 6,2 (2005): 87-93.
  19. Nguyen H, Gupta V. “Alpha-Lipoic Acid”, StatPearls Publishing, (2021).
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