Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is a unique antioxidant that is naturally synthesized by animals and humans. It is also found in plant foods such as spinach, potatoes, and broccoli and is often consumed as a dietary supplement to support healthy circulation and energy metabolism. It has the chemical formula C8H14O2S2.and a molecular weight of 206.3 g/mol.
Alpha-Lipoic Acid Benefits and Uses
Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is a well-studied antioxidant that plays a number of important functions in the body, such as promoting youthfulness and helping with energy metabolism. It is an endogenous compound – meaning the body can synthesize it on its own – and functions as a cofactor for many mitochondrial enzymatic processes. It is both water and fat soluble and can also be found in many food sources such as green vegetables and meat.
As an antioxidant, a natural substance that helps to neutralize free radicals, ALA helps to support a healthy circulatory system. Its antioxidant benefits may also support cognitive function.
Furthermore, ALA has positive effects on nutrient absorption and digestion. In fact, it works in synergy with other vitamins to convert macronutrients into the energy needed by cells to functions adequately. It may also help to restore vitamins and other essential antioxidants in the body such as glutathione.
Alpha-lipoic acid supplements are also known by a few different names, including:
- Lipoic acid
- (R)-5-(1,2-Dithiolan-3-yl) pentanoic acid
- D-Thioctic acid
- Acetate Replacing Factor
- R-Lipoic acid
- 1,2-Dithiolane-3-pentanoic acid, (3R)
Alpha-lipoic acid supplements are considered safe for adults when used according to the recommended serving instructions. When consumed in larger servings, some people have experienced mild side effects such as nausea, flushing sensation and vertigo.
There isn’t sufficient available data to know whether ALA is safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Some studies have found that large amounts (2400 mg) of ALA may cause serious side effects, particularly for children, such as seizures, vomiting, and fainting. Children should avoid taking ALA.
Warning: Individuals taking medications or with certain conditions such as diabetes should consult their doctor before taking ALA as it may interfere with blood sugar levels. Those undergoing surgery should avoid taking ALA at least 2 weeks before the proceeding due to its effect on blood sugar levels. ALA may also interfere with the effectiveness of thyroid medications and may decrease Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) levels in the body. Please consult a medical professional before taking ALA to determine appropriate dosage.