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cyos   18 Dec 2020

Alpha- Lipoic Acid (ALA & R-ALA)

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Alpha lipoic acid or ALA is an antioxidant most commonly used for nerve pain and nerve-related symptoms; it may also decrease blood glucose acutely. It has also been studied and used for people with high levels of cholesterol in the blood and for people with obesity. It can be found in foods such as yeast, liver, kidney, spinach, broccoli and potatoes. 

Alpha-lipoic acid restores vitamin levels such as vitamin E and vitamin C in the body and can repair damaged cells. It is used in the body to break down carbohydrates and to make energy for the other organs in the body. It seems to work as an antioxidant which could be beneficial in protecting the brain under conditions of damage or injury. The antioxidant effects of Alpha-lipoic acid could also be beneficial and helpful in certain liver diseases. 

ALA is a potent antioxidant compound that works with the mitochondria and the body’s natural antioxidant defences. It is also seen as an anti-aging compound since it can reverse some of the oxidant damage related to the effects of ageing [1].

ALA is inherently fat-soluble but does not require dietary fatty acids to be absorbed by the gut so it can also be taken in a fasted state. What sets ALA apart from other fatty acids is that it’s an antioxidant in both its oxidized and reduced forms. 

R-Lipoic Acid:

At CYOS we stock both ALA and R-ALA. Alpha-lipoc consists of a 50/50 mixture of the R- (natural) and S- (unnatural) forms (enantiomers). R-lipoic acid is the most common, widely available source form of lipoic acid. R-lipoic acid is the form that occurs naturally in plants, animals and the body and is responsible for the specific beneficial effects of ALA. Studies suggest that R-lipoic acid appears to be better absorbed in the body as it is the type the body requires and “recognizes”.

Taking an Alpha-lipoic Acid Supplement can be effective for:

  • Obesity
  • Reducing High Levels of Cholesterol in the blood
  • Diabetic Neuropathy
  • Blood Pressure
  • Skin Ageing

Obesity

Obesity is a worldwide epidemic which is continuously growing, currently there are estimated to be 1.9 billion people overweight and 600 million obese adults [3]. Obesity is associated with many medical concerns such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Previous animal studies have suggested anti-obesity properties of ALA.

Studies have shown that ALA supplementation promotes the reduction of body weight and fat mass. A meta-analysis of the effect of ALA on weight and body mass index was performed looking at 10 articles on randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled studies involving ALA. The researches conducted a meta-analysis of mean weight and BMI change differences between ALA and placebo treatment groups. Upon conclusion ALA treatment showed small, yet significant short-term weight loss compared to placebo groups [2].

Reducing High levels of Cholesterol or other fats in the blood

A study over 16 weeks taking Alpha-lipoic acid seems to lower total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein or LDL “bad” cholesterol in people with or without hyperlipidemia [8].

Diabetic patients with Neuropathy

In 2014 the number of diabetic individuals increased from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million and in 2016, it was estimated that there were 1.6 million deaths directly caused by diabetes [4]. Diabetic Neuropathy is nerve damage caused by diabetes, it most commonly affects the legs and feet. Symptoms can be painful, debilitating and fatal. Diabetic Neuropathy has been recognised as a major cause of morbidity and mortality. 

The effects of ALA on diabetes-associated neuropathy has been demonstrated in numerous clinical trials. A study was conducted on diabetic patients with mild to moderate DSPN with 600 mg of ALA per day over four years. The neuropathy impairment scores of lower limbs (NIS-LL) increased and were defined as meaningful progression during the trial. In this trial, it was shown that ALA might have the potential to prevent the neuropathic impairments progression with regular long-term administration [5]. 

Alpha-lipoic acid seems to delay or reverse peripheral diabetic neuropathy through its multiple antioxidant properties. The treatment reduces pain, paresthesias and numbness. Further studies are needed to determine the effectiveness of alpha-lipoic acid in reducing pain and/or preventing the progression of diabetic neuropathy [6].

Blood Pressure

On average 1 in 3 adults suffer from high blood pressure and it’s estimated to cause 6% of deaths worldwide. People with high blood pressure are at risk for stroke, heart disease and kidney failure. Oral supplements with antioxidants such as ALA may be an inexpensive and useful alternative treatment for people with high blood pressure. Several animal and human studies have investigated the effect of ALA on blood pressure and some introduced it as a potential blood pressure regulator [7]. However studies also suggest the reduction in blood pressure was due to weight loss from ALA supplementation [1].

May reduce Skin Ageing

Topical application of Alpha-lipoic acid may help fight the signs of ageing In one study, researchers found that by applying a cream containing alpha-lipoic acid the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and skin roughness was dramatically reduced. Alpha-lipoic acid raises the levels of other antioxidants such as glutathione, which helps protect the skin and reduce signs of ageing. 

Summary

ALA can be beneficial from some conditions but there is more research needed on others [1]. Other possible benefits include:

  • General Oxidation – ALA appears to have the ability to reduce biomarkers of oxidation
  • Blood Flow – ALA may increase blood flow, although not to a remarkable degree. This could be a secondary response to antioxidant effects
  • Hba1c – There appears to be a slight reducing effect on Hba1c
  • Nerve Repair – May increase nerve regeneration rates and be of aid to nervous system injury
  • Blood Carbonyl Content – Appears to reduce protein carbonylation, which may be related to antioxidant effects [1].

ALA is an organic compound with antioxidant properties which can be made by the body, found in foods and taken as a supplement. Supplementation is relatively safe in the doses recommended for human consumption but always check with your health professional to see if alpha-lipoic acid is right for you.

References: 

[1] – https://examine.com/supplements/alpha-lipoic-acid/

[2] – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5523816/

[3] – 1. Ng M, Fleming T, Robinson M, et al. Global, regional, and national prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and adults during 1980-2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013. Lancet. 2014;384:766–781

[4] – WHO . Diabetes. World Health Organization; Geneva, Switzerland: 2018.

[5] – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723188/

[6] – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2836194/#:~:text=Alpha%2Dlipoic%20acid%20seems%20to,shown%20to%20improve%20neuropathic%20deficits.

[7] – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5450615/#:~:text=Although%20several%20animal%20and%20human,effect%20of%20ALA%20on%20BP.

[8] – https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-767/alpha-lipoic-acid

[9] – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24056055/

 

CYOS blog content is for informational and educational purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice, diagnosis or treatment recommendations. Always consult with your doctor or medical professional before using any dietary supplements or if you suspect you have any medical concerns or issues.

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