Know Your Nutrients: Alpha-lipoic Acid

Know Your Nutrients: Alpha-lipoic Acid
by Amanda Hawkinson
What is it?
Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant that helps the body turn glucose into energy. It is made by the body and found in every cell. In general, antioxidants attack “free radicals,” which cause harmful chemical reactions that can damage cells in the body, making it harder for the body to fight off infections. While most antioxidants work only in water, like vitamin C, or fatty tissues, like vitamin E, alpha-lipoic acid is both fat- and water-soluble. This ability allows it to work throughout the body.
Why take it?
As an antioxidant, alpha-lipoic acid’s ability to kill free radicals seems to help diabetic peripheral neuropathy symptoms such as pain, burning, itching, tingling, and numbness in arms and legs, as well as lower blood sugar. It also seems to help another diabetes-related condition called autonomic neuropathy, which affects the nerves to internal organs.
Alpha –lipoic acid has been shown to prevent organ dysfunction, reduce endothelial dysfunction and improve albuminauria, to treat or prevent cardiovascular disease, and to accelerate chronic wound healing. Additional benefits of alpha-lipoic acid are the reduction of iron overload, to treat metabolic syndrome, to improve or prevent age-related cognitive dysfunction, prevent migraines, treat multiple sclerosis, prevent or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, reduce inflammation, and treat chronic diseases associated with oxidative stress to name a few.
Where can you get it?
Depending on your health, the body may supply enough alpha-lipoic acid. It can also be found in red meat, organ meats (like liver), spinach, broccoli, and yeast, particularly brewer’s yeast. If additional supplementation is needed, alpha-lipoic acid supplements are available as capsules
and some health care providers offer injections.
As with all medication and supplementation it is important to discuss any changes to your diet and supplement regimen with your physician.