Alpha Lipoic Acid supplement benefits, side effects, risks, danger, research and diabetes
- ZHION.COM June 15, 2011
Lipoic acid (LA), also known as α-lipoic acid and Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is an organosulfur compound derived
from octanoic acid. The carbon atom at C6 is chiral and the molecule exists as two enantiomers R-(+)-lipoic acid
and S-(-)-lipoic acid and as a racemic mixture R/S-lipoic acid. Only the R-(+)-enantiomer is an essential cofactor of
four mitochondrial enzyme complexes. Endogenously synthesized R-(+)-lipoic acid is essential for life and aerobic
metabolism. Both R-(+)-lipoic acid and R-(+)/S-(-)-lipoic acid are available as over-the-counter nutritional
supplements. One can imagine that the R-alpha lipoic acid is much more potent than a product which contains
both the R and S lipoic acids.

Alpha lipoic acid has been promoted with the following advantages:
1. It can regenerate vitamin C.
2. It enhances the synthesis of glutathione.
3. It chelates transition metal ions.
4. It is readily absorbed from diet.
5. It protects body if the animals are lacking vitamin E.
6. It benefits people from Alzheimer's diseases, asthma, diabetes and some other conditions.

Research Findings...

Alpha lipoic acid benefits - Anti-aging properties
Alpha-lipoic acid functions as an essential co-factor of the mitochondrial multi-enzyme complex and thus plays an
important role in energy metabolism. Skin protection from photodamage and ageing is one of the functional
applications of α-lipoic acid. Alpha-lipoic acid has a unique structure bearing a distorted five membered 1, 2-
dithiolane ring, making it quite vulnerable to UV radiation. Studies suggest that α-lipoic acid is a powerful anti-
ageing agent under the appropriate usage. [Matsugo S et al, Free Radic Res. 2011 Jun 9.]

Immune dysfunction in aged animals is associated with increased oxidative damage and decreased antioxidant
status and treatment with alpha-lipoic acid effectively elevated immune function, decreased oxidative insult and
enhanced antioxidant status. [Palaniyappan A, et al, Exp Gerontol. 2011 May 4.]

Alpha lipoic acid benefits - Diabetes

Alpha lipoic acid has been identified as potentially beneficial for type 2 diabetes treatment or prevention. [Lee T,
Curr Diab Rep. 2011 Apr;11(2):142-8.]
Diabetic rats were induced, treated by ginkgo biloba extract orally, saline or alpha-lipoic acid intraperitoneal
injection at dose of 35 mg/k once every other days. Findings: The 24-h urine protein quantitation was reduced in
the ginkgo biloba extract group and the alpha-lipoic acid group, with alleviated pathological changes
. ginkgo
biloba extract and alpha-lipoic acid inhibit advanced glycation end products production and down-regulate
receptor for advanced glycation end products expressions by reducing oxidative stress, thus further improving the
renal tissue structure and renal functions of DN rats. [Li XZ et al, Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2011 Apr;31

Alpha Lipoic Acid treatment also improved endothelium-dependent relaxation in diabetic rat aorta. [Okudan N, et
al, Yakugaku Zasshi. 2011;131(5):739-44.]

However, a clinical study shows that lipoic acid and vitamin E supplementation alone or in combination did not
affect the lipid profile or insulin sensitivity of patients with diabetes type 2. There were improvements of the lipid
fractions in the groups receiving lipoic acid and vitamin E alone or in combination, and on the HOMA index in the
lipoic acid group, but not significant. [de Oliveira AM, Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2011 May;92(2):253-60. Epub 2011
Mar 2.]

Alpha lipoic acid benefits - Alzheimer's disease
Alzheimer's disease brain is characterized by amyloid β-peptide (Aβ) deposits, neurofibrillary tangles, synapse
loss, and extensive oxidative stress. Aβ-induced oxidative stress is indexed by protein oxidation, lipid peroxidation,
free radical formation, DNA oxidation and neuronal cell death. Oxidative stress is combated by antioxidants.
Antioxidants and nutrition have long been considered as an approach to slow down Alzheimer's disease
progression. -- vitamin E,
ferulic acid, various polyphenols, including quercetin and resveratrol, α-lipoic acid, N-
acetyl-L-cysteine, curcumin, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), and γ-glutamylcysteine ethyl ester. [Pocernich CB
et al, Curr Alzheimer Res. 2011 May 23.]

Alpha lipoic acid benefits - Cancer
Alopecia is one of the most common side effects of chemotherapy for which treatments have not been developed.
The α-Lipoic acid derivative sodium zinc dihydrolipoylhistidinate reduces chemotherapy-induced alopecia in a rat
model. [Hagiwara S, et al, Surg Today. 2011 May;41(5):693-7. Epub 2011 May 1.]

Alpha lipoic acid benefits - Cardiac Conditions
Type 2 diabetes is a major cause of cardiovascular disease. Researchers administered a regenerative antioxidant
protocol using two natural compounds: α-lipoic acid together with vitamin E, given as either a prevention or
reversal protocol in the food. These rats developed glucose intolerance, hypertension, and increased collagen
deposition in the heart together with an increased ventricular stiffness. Treatment with a fixed combination of
vitamin E and α-lipoic acid (1.6 g/kg food) normalized glucose tolerance, blood pressure, cardiac collagen
deposition, and ventricular stiffness in both prevention and reversal protocols in these fructose-fed rats. [Patel J et
al, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:120801. Epub 2011 Mar 9.]

Alpha lipoic acid benefits - Obesity
alpha-lipoic acid 1800 mg/d led to a modest weight loss in obese subjects. Alpha-lipoic acid may be considered as
adjunctive therapy for obesity. [Koh EH, et al, Am J Med. 2011 Jan;124(1):85.e1-8.]

Alpha lipoic acid benefits - Skin
Atopic dermatitis is a common skin disease that has complex pathogenic mechanisms.α-Lipoic acid suppresses
the development of DNFB-induced atopic dermatitis-like symptoms in NC/Nga mice. [Kim GD Exp Dermatol. 2011

Alpha lipoic acid Side Effects
High doses, e.g. 100 mg, may lead to conditions of nausea, stomach upset and low blood sugar levels.

If you have any comment on this article, and if you know other side effects of ALA, please, send your comments to
me at

Most of the studies have been done in animals; more studies are needed to support its claims.
Discuss with your doctor before taking any alternative medicine. This article is for
reference only, it is not a medical advice. All rights reserved. Do not copy this article to
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