Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is a natural antioxidant. It helps neutralize free radicals in the body and protects cells from damage. ALA has been used for years to help maintain and perhaps even restore liver health. ALA is so effective that it has been used to treat patients with radiation poisoning, mushroom poisoning, alcoholic hepatitis, diabetes-related neuropathy. It has also been shown to effectively lower liver enzymes.
ALA is a vitamin-like compound with powerful anti-oxidant properties. Because it dissolves in both water and fat, it has been called “the universal antioxidant.”
What is an anti-oxidant and why are they important?
Anti-oxidants like ALA, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E capture unstable oxygen molecules in the body. And also, prevent them from damaging healthy cells in the body. Unstable oxygen molecules are also referred to as free radicals.
ALA protects the body from free radicals that may enter the system through cigarette smoke, pollution, car exhaust, fried foods and in other ways. If you live in an environment that has no smoke, no pollution, and no car exhaust. And also, if you never eat fried foods, then you are probably in pretty good shape and don’t have to worry about free radicals. The rest of us could benefit from taking supplements that contain antioxidants like ALA.
Where do you get ALA from?
If you don’t want to take a supplement, you may still get some ALA through your diet, provided you eat enough of the right kinds of foods. a-Lipoic Acid is a naturally occurring substance and can be found in foods such as meats, and vegetables (i.e. spinach).
Primary function of ALA
The main function of Alpha Lipoic Acid is to increase the body’s production of glutathione, which helps dissolve toxic substances in the liver. The liver is the filter for the body, and an unhealthy liver means an unhealthy you. Almost everyone knows that alcohol can damage the liver, but so can certain pain-relievers and other prescription medications.
Being overweight also puts additional stress on the liver. It can lead to long term damage and a condition known as “fatty liver.” Alpha Lipoic Acid helps cleanse the liver and has been associated with other healthful benefits. It has also been associated with both the mitigation of heavy metal toxicity and the direct chelation of heavy metals, such as mercury. Mercury exposure is the second-most common cause of toxic metal poisoning.
How Alpha Lipoic Acid Works?
The body uses Alpha Lipoic Acid to help break down sugars to produce energy through cellular respiration. This is truly an “anti-aging” effect. Aging is accelerated by declining cellular energy production, free radical damage and other factors. Specifically, mitochondrial decay and the subsequent decline in cellular energy production of the body may be one of the most important causes of cellular decline in aging.
The antioxidant properties of a-Lipoic Acid also reduce the symptoms of aging. ALA appears to play a central role in antioxidant defense, soaking up and flushing out water-soluble and fat-soluble free radicals from the body . AL Acid helps the body recycle other important antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, glutathione and coenzyme Q10.
Alpha Lipoic Acid is an “insulin mimetic”.
This means that it mimics insulin in the body. Essentially what this amounts to is that when you consume ALA, your body doesn’t have to use as much insulin to clear blood sugar from your tissues and use it to replenish muscle glycogen. Not only does this less taxing to the pancreas and other organs, but it also keeps the system more stable. This is particularly important when you’re consuming high amounts of carbs in general, or simple carbs.
Specifically, it helps in controlling blood sugar levels. On top of that, it makes the carbs that you eat more likely to be stored as GLYCOGEN in the MUSCLES versus as FAT in FAT CELLS. Translation: you can eat more carbs and stay leaner.
Aside from my experience with it, there are other reasons that I think this supplement is a knockout. Not only can it help stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce body fat, ALA can also improve your skin’s appearance because of it’s strong antioxidant potential and the fact that it is a heavy metal chelator.
Being a heavy metal chelator means that ALA basically protects the collagen and other structures in your system (the skin but also blood vessels seem to be helped by this type of thing) from the harmful effects of heavy metals that can seep into your body and become toxic to your cells. Ever heard of people who are scared to eat tuna fish out of the can? Yea, they’re afraid of heavy metals. And to some extent, they’re probably not all that crazy.
Other benefits of ALA
In addition to the aforementioned benefits, Alpha Lipoic Acid also has the potential to slow the aging process. The mechanism here is the same as that which provides the previous benefits I mentioned. ALA decreases inflammation, lowers blood sugar, is involved in chelation of toxic heavy metals. And also helps people keep body fat and body weight levels in check.
So you can start to see why I’m pretty hooked on this supplement. I’ve used it myself and think that it’s one of the few pills out there that not only can improve your body and your appearance. Most importantly, it provides other legitimate health benefits. I don’t advocate using something unless it confers multiple potential benefits. Further, there is always a risk involved in taking any type of pill, OTC or otherwise.
Alpha Lipoic Acid Dosage Information
- ALA is not a medication, therefore there is no prescribed dose. Those who are familiar with the supplement recommend a daily maintenance dose of between 50mg to 100mg in most cases.
- Therapeutic dose: The amount of a-lipoic acid used in research has ranged from 150-600 mg per day, with 600 mg per day being used to treat diabetic neuropathies and 150 mg per day for glaucoma.
- HIV clinical studies have used 300 to 750 mg of alpha lipo acid per day. However, patients exceeding the maintenance does must do so under the supervision of their physician. Some clinicians have reported that their patients experienced improved energy levels on doses of 500 to 800 mg a day.
Again, it should be remembered that these are suggested doses only. The FDA does not have an established recommended daily requirement for ALA.
What are the the side effects of ALA?
Clinical studies have shown few, if any, side effects among those who have been given ALA supplements as directed. Higher doses can cause nausea and upset stomachs. and
Please note, excessive doses can even lead to low blood sugar.
One positive side effect of taking ALA is a mild and relaxed feeling! Also described as a sense of well-being, reported by some who have taken this supplement.
At higher doses, ALA, like any other antioxidant, can reduce minerals from your body.
In one study, iron in participants blood was shown to decrease significantly. For age-related treatment, this may be helpful in reducing the production of free-radicals. According to Tory Hagen, Ph.D of Linus Pauling Institute, ALA is currently being researched for reducing the metal-related oxidant stress and slow the progression of alzheimer’s disease. You should monitor iron levels with regular blood tests if you are planning to take high doses.
Are there any precautions for diabetics?
ALA for long periods may require an adjustment in your dosage of insulin or other diabetic medications. Consult your doctor for guidance. ALA is safe for healthy adults at commonly recommended dosages. It can occasionally cause mild stomach upset and in rare cases it can trigger an allergic skin rash. If you experience any of these reactions, reduce the dose or stop taking the supplement.
This supplement is not recommended for pregnant women.
ALA V/s CLA
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a trans-fatty acid that is naturally occurring in some meats and cheeses and happens to be a very potent fat burning supplement. On top of it’s fat burning capabilities, CLA also can assist in building muscle. While there has been a lot of research in the past showing the advantages of CLA supplementation over the long term, new research is even better.
A new study out of Uppsala University (Sweden) concluded that people who supplemented with CLA for just four weeks significantly decreased the amount of abdominal fat compared to a group who didn’t use the supplement. What’s more is that the group that used the CLA and decreased their body fat levels wasn’t even exercising.
Do you want to amplify the amount of fat burned with workouts?
Just combine CLA with regular physical activity such as strength and cardiovascular training. CLA would certainly amplify fat metabolized (burned). Additionally, you can also build more muscle with CLA with weight training. (Compared to weight training without the supplement).
The recommended dose needed to get results? 1-3 grams per day with breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Conclusion & Verdict
Alpha Lipoic Acid could be a blockbuster supplement for you by helping control insulin levels, reduce body fat, improve skin, and slow aging . However, always check with your doctor before starting any new supplements or drug. Ultimately, the research seems to show that it doesn’t matter who you are. Man, woman, thin, fat, or what your goals are, it just may be a beneficial pill for you to swallow.