Monthly Archives: September 2014

Four Key Benefits of Alpha Lipoic Acid

When you hear the name “Alpha Lipoic Acid,” does it sound familiar, but you don’t quite know what it is?  Well, you’re not alone.  Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) often plays the role of the supporting actress – it’s a highly versatile antioxidant that’s found in nearly everything, yet is largely underappreciated. Although ALA has enjoyed periods of fame, most notably a mention on Dr. Oz earlier this year, it is often upstaged by more popular antioxidants like Vitamin C.

We happen to believe ALA may just be the most important substance you have never heard of, and it’s time to give it the attention it deserves!

To start, you should know that Alpha Lipoic Acid goes by several names and abbreviations, including ALA, Lipoic Acid, LA, Thioctic Acid, Lipoate, and α-lipoic acid.  Although less commonly used, Alpha Lipoic Acid may also be referred to as 6,8-thioctic acid, 6,8-dithioctane acid, 1,2-dithiol-3-valeric acid, and DHLA.

Now, here are four great reasons to know and love Alpha Lipoic Acid:

ALA = Energy

We all need energy, especially cellular energy. Cellular energy is the power behind every single action within the human body, including muscle movement, generation of new cells, wound healing, and even thinking.  You are using valuable cellular energy right now, just by reading this article!

The body’s supply of cellular energy starts in the mitochondria of the cells.  There are thousands of mitochondria in most eukaryotic cells (cells with nuclei) within the body, and they are constantly creating energy through a process known as the Krebs Cycle.  ALA is an important cofactor to two key enzymatic reactions within this Cycle. To put it simply, without ALA, cellular energy is not possible.  And without cellular energy, life is not possible.

ALA and Healthy Blood Sugar Levels

Another important characteristic of ALA is its effect on insulin, and the body’s use of blood sugar (glucose). Multiple placebo controlled studies have shown that daily doses of 600 mg to 1800 mg of ALA can improve insulin sensitivity and the utilization of glucose, ultimately leading to healthy blood sugar levels.

ALA may also go a step further and help prevent the complications that are associated with unhealthy blood sugar levels, specifically complications in the vascular system and kidneys. Recent research indicates this reduced threat of complication comes from ALA’s ability to protect the inner lining of blood vessels (the endothelium) from damage caused by oxidative stress.

ALA is a Key Factor in Optimal Nerve Health

In Germany, ALA has been approved as a treatment for diabetic neuropathy – a debilitating condition that causes painful burning sensations in the arms and legs, and eventually leads to a loss of nerve function.   Although most of the studies related to this treatment have used intravenous (IV) ALA, a placebo controlled study using oral ALA demonstrated that symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, including pain, stinging and burning sensations, were reduced when taking single doses of 600 mg, 1200 mg or 1800 mg per day for 5 weeks.

ALA is an Important Part of Your Weight-Loss Plan

Every year, thousands of different supplements, gym memberships, pharmaceutical drugs, books, and medical treatments are used by people trying to lose weight.  In 2012, the annual revenue of the USA weight-loss industry was an estimated $20 billion. Clearly, managing a healthy weight is an issue many people struggle with.

Alpha Lipoic Acid cannot magically make cheeseburgers as nutritious as carrots, but it does have an effect on how our bodies use food and excess fat.  Recent research showed that overweight individuals who took 1,800 mg ALA every day for 20 weeks lost more weight than subjects who did not take ALA. It all comes down to cellular energy.  By supporting the creation of energy within the cells, ALA can help stimulate the body to use food molecules more quickly and burn excess calories from fat.

Choosing the Right Form of Alpha Lipoic Acid

ALA can be found in oral supplements in two forms: the R form, which is the form found in nature, or the S form. The R form of ALA is more bioavailable and biologically active than S-ALA, but it is expensive to produce and often presents stability issues in manufacturing. This is why many ALA supplements contain only the S form, or a 50/50 mixture of S-ALA and R-ALA (also referred to as racemic ALA).

In most cases, only 50% of the total dose of supplements labeled as Alpha Lipoic Acid or R/S Lipoic Acid is the R form.  Because R-ALA has only recently become available in a stabilized format, most clinical research has been conducted using intravenous or oral mixtures of R/S ALA.  This is important to consider when choosing how much ALA to take.  For example, when clinical evidence suggests 600 mg of racemic ALA per day can help maintain healthy blood sugar levels, this dose would be equivalent to 300 mg of R-ALA.

Liposome encapsulated R-ALA may also offer further benefits to the absorption and utilization of R-ALA in the body.  ALA pills, powders and capsules are rapidly, but incompletely absorbed into the blood, and then quickly used by the body or passed as waste.  With Liposomal Encapsulation Technology, R-ALA is encapsulated and protected from destruction in the digestive system by microscopic liposomes.  Since liposomes are made of phospholipids (the same material that makes up your cellular membrane), they are capable of passing through cell membranes and delivering R-ALA directly into the cell.

 

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