It’s an organic compound that you can find in various everyday foods you eat like red meat, spinach, broccoli and tomatoes. Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) naturally helps convert nutrients into energy (x). As a supplement, alpha-lipoic acid benefits the body in similar ways with its antioxidant effects. According to research, ALA may successfully help manage blood sugar, reduce the risk for disease, support cognitive function, protect the nerves and support weight loss.
While there is no medical evidence that ALA can definitely treat, cure or prevent any diseases or illnesses, research suggests it may have health benefits.
What is Alpha Lipoic Acid?
ALA is an organic compound and antioxidant synthesized by both plants and animals, including humans. It helps the body perform and maintain essential functions. Antioxidants are important because they help fight free radical damage and oxidative stress, which can increase the risk for disease and aging (x, x).
Where Does Alpha Lipoic Acid Come from?
Alpha-lipoic acid is produced in the mitochondria. It helps enzymes convert nutrients from food into energy. It’s made in the body naturally, but like we mentioned earlier it’s also in food and the body absorbs it through the gastrointestinal tract. It is both water- and fat-soluble, meaning it dissolves in both water and fats in the body (x).
What is ALA Used for? How Alpha-Lipoic Acid Benefits the Body
Studies suggest that alpha-lipoic acid benefits the body in several ways and ALA supplements may produce similar effects. However, there is not enough evidence to suggest that ALA supplements are an adequate treatment for any diseases, illnesses or health conditions. But even with that being said, it may have some potential benefits for:
- Weight loss
- Nerve function
- Cognitive support
- Blood sugar control
- Healthy skin aging
ALA & Its Antioxidant Properties
The first way alpha-lipoic acid benefits the body is with its antioxidant abilities. There are several types of antioxidants, but they generally perform one essential function—to prevent cell damage from free radicals. Free radicals are unpaired and unstable electron molecules that form naturally when you exercise and when the body converts food to energy. They also result from environmental factors like UV exposure, inflammation, pollution and/or cigarette smoke.
Free radicals seek other electrons to pair with, which can damage cells, proteins and DNA. As a result, it causes oxidative stress. Researchers associate free radicals and oxidative stress with disease like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and cataracts. But antioxidants may be able to delay cell damage and reduce the risk for disease (x, x).
According to studies, alpha-lipoic acid benefits health by helping to promote weight loss. For example, it may help with appetite control. Studies have noticed that it may reduce enzyme AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) activity. It’s located in the hypothalamus in the brain and in high levels, it increases hunger. Studies suggest that ALA may help control hunger and help support weight loss efforts (x, x).
Neuropathy is damage to the nerves in the peripheral nervous system that causes numbness, tingling and pain in the nerves. It can result from medications, infections, autoimmune disorders or injury, but most of the time it results from oxidative stress from type 2 diabetes (x).
Researchers have studied how alpha-lipoic acid benefits nerve function in patients with diabetic neuropathy. Based on the results of several studies, ALA may be an effective option for nerve damage because of its antioxidant properties and ability to reduce oxidative stress. Studies associate oxidative stress with “defective nerve blood supply and endoneurial oxidative damage.” Because there is more glucose in the blood, it causes enzymes to accumulate and damage neurons (x).
But ALA may be able to reduce the risk for oxidative stress and diabetic neuropathy in the first place. It has antioxidant abilities and it may also be beneficial for managing blood sugar, which we’ll touch on later in the article.
Other studies suggest that it may be able to help address carpal tunnel syndrome, which causes pain, numbness and tingling in the hand and the arm. It develops as a result of pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. According to research, ALA may be able to keep carpal tunnel syndrome from progressing, especially in its early stages (x, x).
ALA may also help support overall cognitive function. Research associates oxidative stress and inflammation with impaired cognitive function, especially with aging. Because ALA has antioxidant properties, researchers believe it may be useful for age-related cognitive decline (x).
For example, one study analyzed its effectiveness on cognitive function in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, “a neurological disorder characterized by profound memory loss and progressive dementia.” The study associates the risk for Alzheimer’s with diabetes and glucose metabolism, suggesting that diabetes may lead to neurodegenerative disease. However, the researchers claim that because alpha-lipoic acid benefits oxidative stress and inflammation, it may be effective for Alzheimer’s disease (x).
Blood Sugar Management & Diabetes
Diabetes—diagnosed or undiagnosed—affects about 10 million adults ages 65 and up in the United States and unfortunately, experts don’t see that number going down anytime in the next decade (x). Type 2 diabetes in particular occurs when the body fails to regulate insulin and blood sugar levels. It can increase the risk for a range of health complications, from cardiovascular diseases to vision impairments.
However, studies suggest that—potentially—alpha lipoic acid benefits diabetes by helping to regulate blood sugar levels. In one study, researchers studied its effects on fasting blood glucose and insulin resistance in diabetic patients over a two month period. They noticed a significant decrease in blood sugar and insulin resistance (x).
It may reduce blood sugar by promoting processes to remove fat that accumulates in the muscles cells. Fat accumulation can interfere with insulin activity. So if ALA can naturally reduce fat accumulation, it may be effective for insulin resistance and glycemic control (x).
Healthy Aging Skin
Antioxidants have multiple roles in the body and one of them is supporting skin health during the aging process. Studies show that alpha-lipoic acid benefits the skin by reducing wrinkles and improving the texture of the skin, as well as other signs of aging. It may also increase other antioxidants to help protect the skin even more.
In a study conducted on participants using cream with ALA, researchers found that the natural antioxidants seemed to reverse visible signs of aging and protect the skin from sun damage and harmful UV rays (x).
How to Take Alpha Lipoic Acid
ALA is a natural component in the human body, but supplements may produce similar effects to support overall health. The recommended serving size for Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) powder is 600 mg once or twice per day with meals, or as directed by a physician.
Make sure to speak with a physician to make sure this dosage is right for you and your current health needs. ALA supplements are not intended to completely treat, cure or prevent any diseases or illnesses.
Are There Any Side Effects from Alpha Lipoic Acid?
There are some slight side effects to taking ALA supplements, so it’s highly recommended that you speak to a doctor for approval before you go forward with the supplement. Possible reported side effects of ALA include (x):
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
- Gastrointestinal symptoms
Warnings & Safety Precautions
Avoid taking ALA as a supplement during pregnancy or breastfeeding. There is not enough research to determine whether it is safe or may cause damage. Patients with diabetes should also be careful because it may lower blood sugar too much. Also, take caution with excessive alcohol use. Alcohol can reduce thiamine (vitamin B1) and taking ALA with low thiamine levels may cause health problems (x).
Where to Buy Alpha Lipoic Acid Supplements
You can purchase ALA supplements at BulkSupplements.com. The company is an industry-leading manufacturer and distributor for pure dietary supplements. BulkSupplements.com is not just a consumer brand. It also supplies pure ingredients to other brands that distribute food and other supplement products. All products at BulkSupplements.com are manufactured and tested according to current and proper manufacturing practices.
Are you interested in trying alpha-lipoic acid as a dietary supplement for its potential to support cognitive function, aging, blood sugar levels and nerve function? Contact BulkSupplements.com to place an order today.
Alpha lipoic acid is a natural chemical compound that we get from food and that the body also makes itself, to help support enzymes that convert food to energy. It also has antioxidant properties that can help fight oxidative stress and free radical damage. As a supplement, ALA may help regulate blood sugar in diabetes, support cognitive function with age-related decline and reduce signs of aging in the skin.
There is not enough evidence to determine whether it can completely cure, treat or prevent any illness or health condition. ALA supplements are not a replacement for any medical treatment. Make sure to consult a physician before taking the supplement. Though research cannot completely confirm, seemingly alpha-lipoic acid benefits health.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.