Alpha Lipoic Acid: Health Benefits, Supplement Sources & Side Effects24 Mar 2023
Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is an organic compound with powerful antioxidant properties. It’s produced in your body naturally, but can also be derived from food sources as well as supplements. Studies have shown that ALA aids weight loss, and lowers the risk of developing diabetes, and various other serious health conditions. The efficacy of the substance in managing several health conditions is discussed further in this article.
Alpha Lipoic Acid Benefits
Alpha Lipoic Acid is found in all human cells and with its potent antioxidant properties is highly beneficial for overall health. Referred to as a powerhouse of cells it is produced inside the mitochondria where it converts nutrients into energy. There are a lot of merits attached to its growing popularity. Unlike other antioxidants which are either water-soluble or fat-soluble, alpha lipoic acid is both water and fat-soluble. This quality enables it to work on every cell and tissue of the body. Owing to its antioxidant properties, alpha lipoic acid helps in controlling blood sugar readings, reducing inflammation, improving nerve function, and delaying skin ageing.
Though your body produces alpha lipoic acid, to derive adequate amounts you may have to resort to food sources or supplements. The food sources of alpha lipoic acid are organ meats and red meat, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. However, alpha lipoic supplements score high in providing higher amounts of the compound.
The various alpha lipoic acid benefits are:
Manages Blood Sugar Levels & Diabetes
These days, a major population is affected by diabetes. The reason could be an unhealthy lifestyle. The main characteristic of diabetes is a spike in blood sugar readings. If left untreated it can lead to several other serious conditions like blindness, kidney failure, and heart disease. One of the key alpha lipoic acid benefits is managing blood sugar magnitude in both humans and animals. Studies conducted on animals have revealed that ingestion of alpha lipoic acid reduced blood sugar readings by almost 64%.
Studies conducted on adults who had metabolic syndrome have demonstrated that alpha lipoic acid benefits include lowering fasting blood glucose and HBA1c levels as well as insulin resistance.
The burning of stored fat in muscle cells helps reduce blood sugar which may otherwise hinder the effect of insulin. Alpha lipoic acid enables a reduction in blood sugar levels by promoting the process of dissolving fat stored in muscle cells. It also helps in controlling the risk of complications that develop as a result of uncontrolled diabetes like diabetic retinopathy. All the credit for the advantages of alpha lipoic acid goes to its antioxidant properties.
Alpha lipoic acid undoubtedly reduces blood sugar levels but cannot be considered a wholesome medication to treat diabetes. If you are already diabetic and are on medications, then it is recommended to consult your physician before starting alpha lipoic acid supplements.
Aids Weight Loss
Studies have shown that alpha lipoic acid contributes to weight loss in various ways. AMPK i.e.AMP-activated protein kinase is an enzyme found in the hypothalamus of your brain. This enzyme controls your appetite and when it is active it makes you feel hungry often and increases your calorie intake. Alpha lipoic acid benefits include inhibition of the activity of AMPK and suppressing your hunger and also increasing restful energy expenditure. Human studies have shown that the consumption of alpha lipoic acid aids weight loss only to a small extent.
Delays Age-Related Cognitive Degeneration
As you age, you may experience a decline in cognitive performance. You may have to deal with issues like memory loss. Oxidative stress can be one of the reasons for the loss of memory. With its powerful antioxidant properties, alpha lipoic acid slows down the onset of Alzheimer’s disease wherein the main feature is memory loss. Studies have shown that alpha lipoic acid slows down the progression of the disease by counteracting the free radical damage and eliminating inflammation. However, more research is required to tout this health benefit of alpha lipoic acid.
Promotes Heart Health
Over years, people have become more susceptible to heart diseases and the mortality rate due to heart issues is on the increase. Studies have shown that alpha lipoic acid benefits include reducing markers of heart disease with its antioxidant properties. Free radical damage and oxidative stress are two serious risk factors for heart disease which are taken care of by alpha lipoic acid. It also aids proper blood flow to your heart by improving endothelial dysfunction.
An increase in the levels of C-reactive protein, one of the risk factors of inflammation, is managed by ALA. If a spike in the C-reactive protein is ignored, it may cause chronic inflammation associated with several serious medical conditions, like diabetes and cancer.
Improves Nerve Function
Extreme pressure applied to a nerve by the tissues like bones, muscles, cartilage, or tendons surrounding it results in a pinched nerve. This can cause Carpal Tunnel Syndrome wherein you will experience tingling, weakness, or numbness in the hand.
The consumption of alpha lipoic acid supplements can control this syndrome in the early stages. Studies have also shown that patients with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome recovered faster after surgery on the consumption of the alpha lipoic acid supplements. It may reduce the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy i.e., nerve pain which is an outcome of unmanageable diabetes.
Side Effects of Alpha Lipoic Acid
It is unlikely that anyone will experience toxic effects from the consumption of alpha lipoic acid. However, in rare cases, mild side effects like rashes, itching, or nausea have been reported.
The maximum recommended dosage of alpha lipoic acid is 2400 mg. A dosage higher than this is not suggested as it may not make much difference in terms of benefits.
Alpha lipoic acid is an organic compound which is both fat and water-soluble. This property of alpha lipoic acid enables it to work on every tissue and cell in the body. It has potent antioxidant properties that provide several health benefits like delaying cognitive decline, reducing markers of heart disease, lowering blood sugar levels, and promoting weight loss. Though your body produces it naturally, higher levels can be derived from food sources or supplements.
What is the recommended dosage of Alpha Lipoic Acid?
300 to 600 mg daily is the recommended dosage of alpha lipoic acid. However, you can consume up to 2400 mg without side effects.
Who should exercise precaution in consuming alpha lipoic acid?
People with diabetes should not consume alpha lipoic acid without consulting their physician as it may interfere with the diabetic medication. Also, since the safety of the substance in pregnant women and kids is not established, they should exercise caution before consuming alpha lipoic acid.
What are the dietary sources of alpha lipoic acid?
The dietary sources of alpha lipoic acid are organ meat, red meat, brussels sprouts, spinach, broccoli, potatoes, tomatoes, and yeast.
How does alpha lipoic acid benefit athletes and bodybuilders?
Alpha Lipoic Acid counteracts free radical damage and oxidative stress and helps prevent muscle damage and speedy muscle recovery.
Is long-term consumption of alpha lipoic acid recommended?
The effects of long-term and higher dosage of alpha lipoic acid are not established. There are no specific dosage recommendations as well though it is believed that 300 to 600 mg of alpha lipoic acid is safe.
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