Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is known as the universal antioxidant and is found in every cell of the human body. It’s been studied for its therapeutic role in preventative health since the 1950’s.
Traditionally ALA has been used to promote blood sugar regulation and in easing the pain associated with diabetic neuropathy. Research in ALA has expanded drastically in the past couple years- and as it turns out, it really is the universal antioxidant. With unexpected and far reaching benefits.
ALA is termed the universal antioxidant because it is both water and fat soluble. Simply put, this means ALA is able to act as an antioxidant both inside and outside of the cell, proving benefit to all tissues. In the realm of antioxidants, this is a unique feature. On top of acting as a regular antioxidant, ALAs antioxidant capacities supports the body in two ways
1. It acts as a ‘Mitochondria Nutrient’
What is a Mitochondria Nutrient? First, we need to understand what the mitochondria are. They are the part of the cell that takes nutrients and converts them into energy for the body to use. Generating energy is a taxing process and through it, free radicals are generated. Free radicals damage the body and the mitochondria. A mitochondrial nutrient is a nutrient that facilitates the production of energy, while simultaneously protecting the mitochondria from its own free radical production. Healthy mitochondria produce less free radicals than damaged mitochondria. ALA is involved in the energy generating process and it protects the mitochondria, for this reason ALA is able to help keep internal free radical production to a minimum.
2. It supports the functions of other antioxidants
Unlike other antioxidants, when ALA gets used in the body it become a more potent antioxidant. Through this mechanism ALA recycles used antioxidants such as vitamin C, CoQ10 and glutathione and transforms them back to their beneficial form. It is through these mechanisms that ALA is able to exert such a powerful, systemic effect on the body.
Benefits of ALA
Taking ALA doesn’t mean you can freely chow down on sugar without the metabolic consequences- however research shows that ALA has a positive effect on glucose uptake by the cells. It is able to increase insulin sensitivity and new research suggests it might suppress insulin secretion in cases where insulin production is elevated. This has implications in individuals with high blood sugar, diabetes and metabolic disease and may be used to support this population.
ALA promotes a healthy heart. It improves lipid profiles which is correlated to healthy cholesterol levels while reducing inflammation in the blood vessels. ALA can provide a significant clinical advantage to any heart health program!
Science is now looking toward oxidative stress and inflammation as a contributing factor to the pathogenesis of neurological conditions. ALA is a neuroprotective agent and anti-inflammatory molecule that possesses the ability to reverse damage to the central nervous system to a significant degree. Research has shown the efficacy of ALA in slowing down the progression of mild Alzheimer’s, reducing the rate of cognitive decline and there is evidence for the use of ALA in multiple sclerosis. Further research is needed to understand the full range of effects of ALA on neural tissue and how these can be used in a clinical setting, but it's looking promising!
Although the research on ALA has been ongoing since the 1950’s, the advances in technology and the increased need for natural alternatives to health conditions, have led to an increase in research. Science and medicine are really just beginning to understand the complexity and therapeutic potential of ALA. Due to ALA’s mitochondrial protective properties and its powerful antioxidant capabilities, it might have implications in several other diseases. While we cannot say definitely as trials are still in cell and animal models- there is a growing body of research that ALA could be useful in migraines, autoimmune conditions, chronic pain, age-related digestive issues and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Lypo-Spheric® R-Alpha Lipoic Acid is a highly bioavailable form of ALA. In addition to providing the benefits of ALA, the liposomes in Lypo-Spheric® R-Alpha Lipoic acid amplify its effects due to their own therapeutic properties! Stay tuned as more research comes out, we’ll be sharing it!
Author: Lisa Kowalyk, CNP, B.Kin