Alpha lipoic acid (ALA), also known as thioctic acid, is a vitamin-like substance made by the body in humans and functions as an antioxidant. Not only is it an antioxidant but it helps regenerate other antioxidants such as Vitamin E, Vitamin C, and glutathione. It is found in every cell and functions to help convert glucose into energy.
ALA also functions as a cofactor for certain mitochondrial enzymes. Unlike most vitamins, it’s both fat and water-soluble so it can work throughout the body. Dietary sources of ALA include red meat, organ meats (such as liver), and yeast – particularly brewer’s yeast.
The clinical indications for ALA include treating or preventing diabetes, hepatitis, burning mouth syndrome, taste disorders and vitiligo. ALA has the ability to bind to certain metals and has been shown to inhibit copper-and iron-induced oxidative damage in vitro. These metal ions, such as free iron and copper, can induce oxidative damage in the body by causing free radical formation.
Most of the research on ALA focuses on its effectiveness in the treatment of diabetes. Multiple studies have found Alpha-lipoic acid effective in lowering blood sugar levels. Due to its ability to kill free radicals, it may help people with diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
Another organ that may benefit from ALA is the liver. The first large-scale human clinical studies using alpha lipoic acid in the U.S. were carried out in the 1970s by Berkson, Frederick C. Bartter, M.D., and other scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The researchers gave the nutrient to 79 people with severe liver damage; 75 of those people, according to Berkson, recovered full liver function.
Consider adding this potent and important antioxidant into your every day supplement routine. And as always, it is important to contact your health care provider.
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