Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA, thioctic acid) is a naturally occurring vitamin-like nutrient that has been intensely investigated as a therapeutic agent for a variety of conditions involving the body’s nervous, cardiovascular, immune, and detoxification systems. It is produced in small amounts in the liver and other body tissues, where it is needed by enzymes to catalyze numerous essential chemical reactions in the body. For instance, ALA is essential inside the mitochondria of cells, where it is needed to metabolize glucose and direct calories into energy production.
Our bodies cannot be maximally efficient in producing energy from carbohydrates or fats without the help of the antioxidant lipoic acid. Much of diabetes cell damage is oxidative, which leaves unstable cells that do not process insulin appropriately, and the cells can become chronically inflamed. Alpha-lipoic acid counters the oxidation and restores insulin function. It does this, in part, by removing glucose from the system sooner and delivering it to cells.
Alpha-lipoic acid is a strong antioxidant that is soluble in both water and fat. It improves insulin sensitivity, diabetic neuropathy, protects against kidney damage and offsets the destructive action of maverick AGE “glycotoxin” cells that might be consumed or resultant from foods and long stored in the body.
Alpha lipoic acid is used in one of the most critical spots in the body’s energy production pathways. It sits at the end of a process called glycolysis, which our cells use to create energy from fats, sugars and starches. This helps explain its clinical use with conditions like diabetes, where processing of sugar is disrupted.
Healthy foods with lipoic acid are spinach, broccoli, and other green leafy vegetables like collard greens and chard.
The therapeutic dose for alpha-lipoic acid supplement is up to 600 milligrams daily, based on research studies. The supplement is typically sold in 50-milligram tablets. Be sure to space your daily dose across two to three times per day.
As always, consult with your medical professional before changing your regimen to make sure it is right for you.
There are two basic forms of alpha-lipoic acid: R and S. Most products are equal parts of both forms. Some natural health practitioners prefer alpha-lipoic acid supplements with only R or marked R-DHLA because the body naturally produces and uses the R form. The suggested dose of R-DHLA is 150 to 300 mg per day. High amounts of lipoic acid may require additional biotin and vitamin B12. This is a mainstay for people with type 2 diabetes. We have not used it with our boys for type 1 diabetes, but it may help with more efficient cellular energy production from both dietary fat and carbohydrates.
I take an alpha-lipoic acid supplement and I do believe it helps to keep blood sugars under even better control while on the Health-e-Solutions lifestyle. This supplement, along with a few others pack a one-two punch that helps to keep my A1c level right around 5.0%. That is pretty darn good!
Alpha Lipoic Acid Improves Insulin Sensitivity
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Alpha Lipoic Acid in Relieving Diabetes-related Nerve Damage
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- Ziegler D, Schatz H, Conrad F, Gries FA, Ulrich H, Reichel G. Effects of treatment with the antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid on cardiac autonomic neuropathy in NIDDM patients. A 4-month randomized controlled multicenter trial (DEKAN Study). Deutsche Kardiale Autonome Neuropathie.Diabetes Care. 1997 Mar;20(3):369–73.
- Ziegler D, Hanefeld M, Ruhnau KJ, Meissner HP, Lobisch M, Schütte K, Gries FA. Treatment of symptomatic diabetic peripheral neuropathy with the anti-oxidant alpha-lipoic acid. A 3-week multicentre randomized controlled trial (ALADIN Study). Diabetologia. 1995 Dec;38(12):1425–33.
Alpha Lipoic Acid as Mitochondrial Antioxidant
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- Mythili Y, Sudharsan PT, Varalakshmi P. dl-alpha-lipoic acid ameliorates cyclophosphamide induced cardiac mitochondrial injury. Toxicology. 2005 Nov 5;215(1-2):108–14. Epub 2005 Aug 8.
- Ames BN. Delaying the mitochondrial decay of aging. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004 Jun;1019:406–11 [Review].