Over the past few years, Alpha Lipoic Acid has gained a lot of popularity around the globe. It is an organic compound that serves various useful purposes inside the body at the cellular level. Its role as a powerful antioxidant is what distinguishes it from all other similar compounds that are found in different foods or are consumed as dietary supplements. The use of Alpha Lipoic Acid is accompanied by an array of benefits yet its effectiveness has been questioned in several instances.

So what is it?

Alpha Lipoic Acid, more commonly referred to as ALA is a powerful antioxidant that occurs naturally inside the human body. It is contained within mitochondria which are the powerhouses of the cells. Here it helps the enzymes in the conversion of nutrients into usable energy. It is present inside every cell or tissue because it is both water and fat-soluble although most antioxidants are either water or fat-soluble.

ALA is produced in minute quantities inside the human body. Hence it has to be ingested in the form of foods or supplements. The use of ALA has increased to a great extent over recent years. It is now commonly available as an herbal supplement that is easily accessible in the market.

How Does Alpha Lipoic Acid Work?

Known as a universal antioxidant, ALA protects the brain and mitochondria from any sort of free radical damage. It also aids in supplying energy for normal body functions. It breaks down carbohydrates which acts as the major source of energy. Moreover, ALA recycles and restores the levels of other vital vitamins such as Vitamin C and E and CoQ10. It has also proved to control blood glucose levels, reduce insulin resistance, and improve eye health. 

Benefits of Alpha Lipoic Acid

Alpha Lipoic Acid is gaining a lot of popularity in the world of health and fitness because of the wide variety of benefits that it provides. These include:

  • Weight Loss: ALA has been linked to weight loss as it promotes skeletal muscle energy metabolism which in turn increases calories that can be burned. There is a very slight impact on weight loss and almost no significant effect on waist circumference.
  • Diabetes: It has been suggested that ALA maintains blood sugar levels which is very essential when it comes to controlling diabetes. Added to this it also increases the body’s natural ability to use its insulin which ultimately lowers blood sugar levels of patients with type 2 diabetes. Symptoms of nerve damage due to diabetes are also reduced.
  • Aging Skin: Creams that contain a minimum of 5 percent of ALA reduce fine lines and make the skin smoother and tighter. The elasticity of the skin is enhanced which is a major contributing factor for delaying the onset of aging.
  • Memory: Memory loss is attributed mainly to oxidative stress especially in old people. Being an antioxidant, ALA slows down memory loss and prevents memory loss-related disorders.
  • Inflammation:  ALA lowers the effect of several markers of inflammation.

Side Effects of Alpha Lipoic Acid

Alpha-lipoic acid is considered a safe to use supplement but like all others, it has also been linked to various side effects. Thus its use needs to be administered properly to avoid any adverse effects. General side effects of ALA include headache, nausea, muscle cramps, skin rash, itching, and tingling sensation. These tend to be very mild and can be treated and promptly reversed.

If you are already on other medications than it is advised to consult a healthcare professional before consuming any dose of ALA to prevent any serious side effects from showing up. This should be specially kept in mind when on insulin or other medications that lower blood glucose levels.

Consuming the Right Amount of Alpha Lipoic Acid

A proper dose for the consumption of ALA has not yet been established. However, according to various studies conducted there is convincing evidence that a safe dose of ALA is between 600 to 1800 milligrams per day. This dose can be taken by orally consuming supplements or can be taken intravenously as well. There are several food choices available that contain ALA but in very low quantity. These foods include spinach, carrots, rice bran, red meat, yeast, and tomatoes.

The Takeaway:

Alpha-lipoic acid is a very useful organic compound that has commendable antioxidant properties. It is naturally produced in the body and is present in small quantities in foods and can also be consumed in the form of supplements as well.