The Importance of Alpha Lipoic Acid

Alpha-lipoic acid is a synthetic version of lipoic acid, a naturally occurring compound produced in the body and synthesized by both plants and animals. This antioxidant is vital to cellular energy production, and helps to neutralize the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are chemical byproducts produced during the process of oxidation that converts nutrients to cellular energy. As they oxidize, these compounds can become highly reactive and harmful to the cell, distorting its vital components and reducing its metabolic efficiency. While the body can naturally manufacture enough lipoic acid for metabolic functions, supplementing can allow more optimal levels to circulate in a free state.

The reason why we need it as a dietary supplement is because alpha lipoic acid appears to help increase insulin sensitivity, and may be especially useful in addressing metabolic syndrome. In addition, ALA works with other antioxidants to help neutralize free radicals and reduce cellular damage. It also acts as a synergist with B vitamins to help in the production of energy from the proteins, carbohydrates and fats consumed through foods. There has been some research done that shows that using alpha-lipoic acid in the treatment of diabetic neuropathy (this mean the the circulation in your body is not good) liver ailments and glaucoma may improve memory via its protective effects on brain and nerve tissue.

It’s important to know what to look for to find out if you’re deficient on ALA. Because lipoic acid works synergistically with many other nutrients, deficiency symptoms for this substance alone are difficult to characterize or diagnose. A true deficiency can mimic the general symptoms of inadequate antioxidant activity, including weakened immune function, decreased muscle mass and memory problems.

You’re probably wondering what and when do you take ALA. Currently there are no established daily doses for supplementation. However, oral alpha-lipoic acid is reported to be well tolerated in doses up to 600 milligrams per day. As a therapeutic adjunct in treating diabetic neuropathy you can take 200-300mg a day. As a general antioxidant, a dosage of 20 to 50 mg daily is commonly recommended. Alpha-lipoic acid can be purchased in dosages ranging 30 mg to 100 mg tablets.

Besides ALA in a supplement form we can obtain ALA in food sources. Lipoic acid is present in both plants and animals and is an integral component of the photosynthetic process of chloroplasts. Very small quantities of lipoic acid are contained in food sources such as spinach.

The most important question is ALA a safe supplement. Alpha-lipoic acid is very safe at commonly recommended dosages. However, some evidence suggests that high doses of alpha-lipoic acid may contribute to thiamin deficiency. Minor side effects may include allergic reactions such as itching or hives, headache, muscle cramps and skin rash. There has never been a case of overdose. The overall level of safety of this supplement is extremely high.