The Amazing Properties of Alpha Lipoic Acid
Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is considered by many to be the Swiss army knife of nutrients due to the wide range of benefits it brings to the human body.
Unlike Vitamin C, which is water soluble and Vitamin E, which is fat soluble, Alpha Lipoic Acid is a unique antioxidant that is both water and fat soluble, which allows it to enter all parts of the cell to neutralize free radicals.
Alpha Lipoic Acid contributes to and is important for the production of energy inside the cell by utilizing sugar to produce energy contributing to mental and physical stamina, reducing muscle fatigue and neutralizes free radicals.
Alpha Lipoic Acid recycles and enhances the effects of both Vitamin C and Vitamin E.
Scientists first discovered the importance of alpha lipoic acid in the 1950s, and recognized it as an antioxidant in 1988. It has been the subject of research around the world, some being done at UC Berkeley by Dr. Lester Packer, a leading expert in the area of antioxidants and a professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California at Berkeley.
He believes that Alpha Lipoic Acid could have far-reaching consequences in the search for prevention and therapy of chronic degenerative diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Because it's the only antioxidant that can easily get into the brain, it could also be useful in preventing oxidative stress and damage from a stroke.
Alpha Lipoic Acid is easily absorbed when taken orally and once inside cells is quickly converted to its most potent form, dihydrolipoic acid.
Because both Alpha Lipoic Acid and dihydrolipoic acid are antioxidants, their combined actions give them greater antioxidant potency than any natural antioxidant now known. This also makes it important for regulating aspects of the immune system, in particular, T-lymphocytes.
Alpha Lipoic Acid as an Anti-Inflammatory
The incidence of inflammatory diseases such as arthritis increases with age. Free radicals promote inflammatory reactions, which antioxidants have been successful at diminishing
Scientists recently stimulated the inflammatory response of white blood cells, resulting in an increase of Intracellular Adhesion Molecule 1 (ICAM-1), which encourages white blood cells to stick to other cells, thereby inflaming tissues.
Alpha-lipoic acid, a potent antioxidant, was then added to the mix. Researchers said the acid reduced the activity of ICAM-1 to levels in normal, un-stimulated cells in a dose-dependent manner. It also lowered the activity of NFkB.
According to the study, these changes suggest that alpha-lipoic acid may help reduce the effects of inflammatory diseases such a rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.
Alpha Lipoic Acid Helps Other Antioxidants
One of the unique properties of Alpha Lipoic Acid is its ability to “recycle” other antioxidants, extending their life in the human body. This means that you derive additional benefit from the existing antioxidants you take in.
Since most water soluble antioxidants need to be constantly replenished to do what they do best – neutralize free radicals – this makes ALA particularly useful.
Preserving Bone Density with ALA
Another area in which alpha lipoic acid holds promise is in averting the bone loss that accompanies osteoporosis and other degenerative bone conditions. This multifaceted agent may help preserve bone health by quelling the oxidative stress that threatens to degrade healthy bone density.
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ALA and Metal Chelation
Alpha Lipoic acid may also protect the body against toxic metal contaminants found in the environment and food supply. This multifunctional agent works by chelating these dangerous agents, such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury and rendering them inactive so that they can be removed by the body.
In animal studies, ALA has been shown to provide protection against arsenic poisoning and to safeguard the liver against the effects of cadmium exposure. Another study also showed that lipoic acid helped protect the delicate nervous system against the harmful effects of mercury poisoning.
ALA as a Potent Nutrient for the Brain
There are other bodies of research that show high ALA supplementation helped to mend damage done by strokes and even to help slow down the process of Alzheimer's. Its apparent ability to facilitate the regeneration of nerve cells has some very promising implications in brain and nerve trauma treatment.
Alpha Lipoic Acid May Help Prevent Migraines
Preliminary evidence suggests that alpha lipoic acid could offer welcome relief for migraine sufferers. When a group of these individuals received a supplement of 600 mg of ALA each day for three months, the frequency and intensity of their migraines declined modestly, and they also reported suffering fewer headache days.
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Maintaining Healthy Skin
Among the myriad benefits of alpha lipoic acid, scientists have found that it can also be used to improve the health of the skin. A study of 33 women with an average age of 54 years found that twice-daily application of a cream containing 5% ALA for three months reduced the roughness of the skin and decreased the appearance of photoaging, compared with a control cream.
Alpha Lipoic Acid Side Effects
Side effects with alpha lipoic acid are rare but can include:
• Skin rash and the potential of hypoglycemia in diabetic patients.
• People who may be deficient in vitamin B1 (such as alcoholics) should take vitamin B1 along with alpha lipoic acid supplements.
• Chronic administration of alpha lipoic acid in animals has interfered with the actions of the vitamin, biotin. Whether this has significance for humans remains unknown.