Each day, we are exposed to millions of oxidative substances. For instance, the pollution, the smoke from cigarettes, sunlight… Even our body produces oxidative substances when breathing or performing other metabolic substances, such as transforming food into energy. We are constantly exposed to the free radicals.
- 1. What is alpha lipoic acid (ALA)?
- 2. What is alpha lipoic acid (ALA) used for?
- 3. What is oxidative stress?
- 4. Function of the free radicals
- 5. The danger of the free radicals
- 6. The damage from the free radicals
- 7. What happens if we have low antioxidant levels?
- 8. Risks of oxidative stress
- 9. How does aging affect our body?
- 10. How does Alpha Lipoic Acid work (ALA)?
- 11. Where can I find alpha lipoic acid?
- 12. What are the properties of alpha lipoic acid?
- 13. How much alpha lipoic acid and when?
- 14. Benefits of alpha lipoic acid
- 15. Alpha lipoic acid and sport performance
- 16. Contraindications and side effects of (ALA)
- 17. Reasons to take ALA dietary supplements
- 18. Related Entries
What is alpha lipoic acid (ALA)?
Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is a type of fatty acid that is present in each one of the cells that make up our body. Moreover, it is synthesized by animals and plants. It is involved in the process of transforming glucose into energy for the organism (energy metabolism).
Alpha lipoic acid, known as the universal antioxidant, reduces the free radicals from the body.
Interestingly enough, it is soluble both in fat and water.
This means that alpha lipoic acid is easily absorb in the lipid layers from the skin. Thanks to this, it combats the free radicals both in the external cell membrane and in the aqueous insides of the cell.
Therefore, taking Alpha Lipoic Acid will allow us to benefit from the properties of this product. Click the link to access the HSN online store.
What is alpha lipoic acid (ALA) used for?
One of the main tasks of alpha lipoic acid consists of fighting the oxidative effect of the free radicals. Consequently, it reduces the inflammation and stops the aging process (anti-aging effect). However, it has other properties, such as improving the insulin sensitivity which ca be useful for diabetes. This is being tested in different studies
Following healthy habits is vital for our health
R-lipoic acid is a super antioxidant that protects the nerves and cells of the body. R-lipoic acid prevents the oxidation while regenerating and prolonging the effects of vitamin C, vitamin E, coenzyme Q10 or glutathione.
What is oxidative stress?
Our body is constantly suffering some kind of oxidative stress. When oxygen enters the body, it is broken down into atoms with unpaired electrons. These particles will “steal” electrons to other atoms that make up other tissues and systems in order to achieve atomic balance.
Said particles are the free radicals and their damage can affect the cell membrane, enzymes and DNA
Function of the free radicals
The free radicals can be quite harmful, although they also play an essential role in our immune system. Our body produces free radicals as:
- Byproducts of cell chemical reactions;
- The liver produces free radicals for detoxification processes;
- White cells use them to destroy bacteria, viruses and damaged cells
The danger of the free radicals
To put if briefly, they are dangerous because they are unstable elements. In fact, they trigger a chain reaction when they steal electrons from other atoms to achieve said atomic balance. Under normal circumstances, they free radicals coexist with the antioxidants from the body, but breaking this state has the following consequences: our body can lose its control over them, affecting our whole body, including healthy cells.
Factors that encourage the proliferation of free radicals
The damage from the free radicals
If you cut an apple and leave it, it will oxidize. The same process takes place in our organism
What happens if we have low antioxidant levels?
There are several reasons why our antioxidant levels may be low when compared to the free radical levels. Consequently, the free radicals can affect our organism by damaging the cells that make up tissues, organs and systems, as well as triggering DNA mutations and saturating the immune system.
Risks of oxidative stress
We measure the oxidation in oxidative stress. High levels of this type of stress can negatively affect any organ, triggering pathologies or diseases like: Alzheimer, atherosclerosis, cancer, heart disease, asthma, diabetes or leaky gut syndrome.
Supporting the antioxidant function of our body with alpha lipoic acid can delay, relieve, reduce and even eliminate any of these symptoms or diseases
How does aging affect our body?
The oxidation takes place almost constantly due to the chemical reactions that happen when we eat, move or breathe. Moreover, we are exposed to the environment where there are harmful agents. These elements can also trigger abnormal cell growth and reproduction, and even hinder the metabolic efficiency.
The mitochondria are small organelles that control the energy production for each of the cells from our body. Each cell can have hundreds of mitochondria, depending on its function and energy requirements of the organ it belongs to.
More than 85% of the oxygen of every breath we take is consumed by these small energy producers. That is why it is easy to understand how a low mitochondrial function is related to aging and low energy levels
An old cell will produce less energy. Therefore, young cells will be important when it comes to increasing the cell energy levels to repair damaged cells.
At the beginning of the 70s, the scientists approved the mitochondrial theory of aging. This theory showed how accumulated DNA damage increases the free radicals and chronic diseases and reduces the cell energy production.
ALA can slow down the symptoms of aging
How does Alpha Lipoic Acid work (ALA)?
Even though it is not an essential nutrient, we can increase its levels in order to benefit from its properties.
Neutralizing the free radicals
One of the main functions of ALA is countering the effects of the free radicals. As we mentioned previously, it will prevent these substances from causing damage and accelerating cell aging. ALA is transformed into dihydrolipoic acid inside the cells. This substance has protective properties for the cells.
Moreover, ALA can improve the insulin sensitivity. In other words, it improves the absorption of glucose by the muscle fibers instead of the fat adipocyte. In fact, this could be very interesting for people who suffer problems related to the glucose metabolism, like diabetes. To top it all, it regulates the blood sugar levels and inhibits the appetite between meals.
Like other antioxidants, ALA can reduce or even neutralize cell damage. It supports other important substances such as vitamin E or C, while obtaining energy from carbohydrates.
ALA can enhance our ability to synthesize glutathione. This element is closely connected to the energy metabolism, to point that athletes use it to improve their performance.
In this aspect, it seems that ALA works in synergy, like group B vitamins and other enzymes. Said elements need have all the macronutrients (protein, fats and carbs) available as energy so that they can be used later on.
Metal Chelating Agent
A peculiarity of alpha lipoic acid is its chelating effect. In other words, it can bind to metals which are toxic for our body like mercury, arsenic, iron, as well as other free radical forms. These elements can enter the body through the air we breathe or the food we eat.
Benefits of alpha lipoic acid for health
Where can I find alpha lipoic acid?
Even if this substance is naturally available in the food we eat, its content is still very low. Alpha lipoic acid is essential for the proper functioning of the organs. This is mainly due to the fact that it supports the mitochondrial cell metabolism as well as having an antioxidant effect.
To top it all, alpha lipoic acid is a more effective antioxidant than vitamins C and E. Vitamin C exclusively works in water, while vitamin E only works in fat. That is why alpha lipoic acid is unique since it can work both in water and fat.
The cell metabolic processes provide energy to the body and support the breakdown of chemical substances and nutrients like: carbs, fats, protein and alcohols.
The antioxidant activity of alpha lipoic acid protects the brain and other organs that are sensitive to the free radicals. Although we still need more concluding research, alpha lipoic acid could support the healing of wounds, injuries and diseases.
What are the properties of alpha lipoic acid?
- It can significantly reduce the mitochondrial deterioration. Moreover, it can increase the energy levels to increase the longevity and slow down the aging process.
- Alpha lipoic acid is known as the universal antioxidant because, unlike most antioxidants, ALA is soluble both in water and fat. Therefore, it can act in places where most antioxidants cannot reach.
- One of the most interesting findings is that it plays a key role in the synergy of other antioxidant. For example, ALA recycles antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E and Co-Q10 when we run out of them. In addition, it stimulates the glutathione production, a powerful antioxidant naturally produced by the body.
How much alpha lipoic acid and when?
It is advisable to take a dose between 300-600mg daily, preferably on an empty stomach.
Benefits of alpha lipoic acid
The studies suggest that alpha lipoic acid supports the organism in the following processes:
- Providing more energy
- Preventing cell aging
- Improving the memory
- Heightening the sight
- Regulating the blood pressure to healthy levels
- Repairing damaged nerve cells
- Preventing the onset of diseases
Protecting the immune system
Unlike what happens with vitamins, alpha lipoic acid is effective both in fat and water. That is why it is perfect to protect the brain tissue.
Alpha lipoic acid is one of the few antioxidants that can prevent the free radicals from damaging the brain because it is capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier. It is also believed that it can strengthen the bound between nerve cells and positively affect the sensitivity and response time.
ALA, role against aging
All antioxidants have an anti-aging effects. The unstable molecules destroy cell tissue, causing cell death and accelerating the aging process. By preventing cell damage, the intact cells reproduce for longer, which improves our health in general, contributing to our well being.
Moreover, it has been proven that alpha lipoic acid can regenerate damaged skin.
But alpha lipoic acid does not only have a positive effect on the outside. Rather, its true benefits consists of protecting the brain and other organs.
The experiments conducted on animals suggest that alpha lipoic acid can prevent hearing loss in the elderly. Another similar study pointed to the potential benefits for treating glaucoma.
Even though this has not been completely proven, there are many studies reporting the possible uses of lipoic acid for the health and well being of the elderly. More specifically, they can avoid certain damage to the body before it happens.
ALA is a great element to improve the insulin sensitivity and response and to regulate the blood sugar levels.
It has the ability to avoid the protein glycosylation and prevent glucose and galactose from becoming sorbitol. The accumulation of sorbitol can trigger pathologies in diabetic people, such as cataracts.
Alpha lipoic acid is quite effective when it comes to improving type 2 diabetes, proven in several studies. Apart from its effects on the sugar levels, ALA protects us against renal vascular damage, reduces the symptoms of neuropathy and improves the functioning of the nervous system.
This is done thanks to its ability to be soluble in fat and water. Therefore, it can reach areas of the nerves that are difficult to access to protect them against oxidative damage.
The metabolic function of ALA
The properties of alpha lipoic acid go beyond its effect on the blood glucose levels. In fact, several studies have proven its ability to prevent and improve several metabolic problems.
It helps to improve the physical composition, reducing the abdominal fat as well as lowering the blood pressure.
All of this thanks to its effect on the insulin sensitivity and increase of adiponectin.
Adiponectin is a substance with anti-inflammatory and anti-atherogenic effects. Those who suffer insulin resistance have low levels of this element, like people with obesity, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
It can improve the cardiovascular system thanks to its ability to preserve the blood vessels, lower a high blood pressure and balance the blood lipid levels.
In addition, alpha lipoic acid can regenerate vitamin E which is a great antioxidant that also improves the cardiovascular function.
ALA enhances the immune system
Like other antioxidants such as vitamin C, bioflavonoids or omega 3, ALA improves the interferon synthesis. The white cells create this substance in order to fight against infections, allergies, etc.
ALA and chronic fatigue syndrome
By playing a main role in the cell energy production, ALA can be a natural remedy to improve the chronic fatigue syndrome.
Other uses for alpha lipoic acid
It seems to be beneficial for many health problems, like glaucoma. The experts recommend taking a dose of 150mg daily.
Alpha lipoic acid and sport performance
With the passing of time, we lose mitochondrial mass and with it, our ability to produce energy. Consequently, we lose cell mass and the effects of the free radical are stronger.
Taking ALA enhances the mitochondrial activity, reducing the peroxidation and stimulating the energy synthesis. In turn, this helps to prevent the loss of muscle tissue while ensuring a proper muscle function.
Alpha lipoic acid helps to transport glucose to the muscle cells, increasing its use by the muscle tissue. This effect will enhance the use of nutrients and improve the sport performance and health.
Doing physical exercise also increase the free radical production. Therefore, there are less endogenous antioxidant like glutathione or vitamin. Consequently the oxidative stress and damage to the tissues increases.
Contraindications and side effects of (ALA)
It is safe as long as we follow the instructions and dose. Only very high doses (1200-1800mg daily) can trigger side effects such as stomach pain, nausea, vomits, dizziness or skin allergies that will disappear if we stop taking it. The experts claim that its use for long periods of time does not have side effects. In fact, some studies that lasted for two years did not report any harmful side effects from taking lipoic acid supplementation.
Reasons to take ALA dietary supplements
The studies suggest that lipoic acid has the following positive effects:
- Supporting weight loss
- Increasing the energy
- Enhancing the immune system
- Supporting the memory
- Improving the functioning of the brain
- Regulating the blood pressure
- Lowering the cholesterol
- Reducing the blood sugar levels
- What is Hyaluronic Acid and its benefits?
- The properties of Pycnogenol against aging
- Benefits of Astaxanthin for health