Super Lipoic Acid
Lipoic acid really is a super nutrient. Its full name is alpha lipoic acid (ALA). Lipoic acid is an antioxidant that is both water and fat soluble making it unique in that regard. It is super because it regenerates other antioxidants protecting the body from all types of oxidative stress that leads to premature aging, inflammation, and diseaae. Lipoic acid is naturally found in some foods and is readily available in supplement form, too. Dietary sources of alpha lipoic acid include the following:
- Bok choy
Health Benefits of Lipoic Acid
Because lipoic acid protects against oxidative stress it has several health benefits. Lipoic acid:
- reverses mitochondrial aging.
- protects against cardiovascular disease.
- fights obesity.
- treats diabetes.
- is effective against some cancers.
Reverses Mitochondrial Aging
Mitochondria are the power plants of the cells as we have discussed. Mitochondria are the organelles in the cells that actually produce the energy we need to survive. As we age mitochondrial become damaged and age as well producing less energy. Animal studies have shown that animals injected with mitochondria from older animals experience more cellular degeneration than they do when injected with mitochondria from younger animals.
Lipoic acid reduces cellular degeneration by slowing mitochondrial delay from oxidative stress.
Alpha lipoic acid also has anti-inflammatory and lipid lowering properties adding to the health benefits of lipoic acid. It lowers blood pressure and improves blood flow by protecting the endothelium, the one-cell thick layer of the inner lining of blood vessels. The endothelium regulates the diameter of blood vessels and thus blood pressure and blood flow. Alpha lipoic acid also lowers total cholesterol and LDL or the bad cholesterol. Lipoic acid also lessens the risk cardiac stents clogging, too.
Do you want to fight obesity? Lipoic acid can help. Lipoic acid reduces appetite and increases metabolism. Lipoic acid improves insulin sensitivity which diminishes in obese individual and facilitates blood sugar uptake by the cells to maintain normal blood sugar levels. In one study 800 mg of lipoic acid daily reduced weight by 8% while enabling overweight participants to shed two inches from the waist. The findings were even better for those classified as obese who lost 9% of their body weight and lost 3 inches in the waist.
As mentioned above lipoic acid improves insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake by the cells – a key to managing diabetes. Because it protects the endothelium, alpha lipoic acid reduces the risk of diabetic vascular disease and kidney disease. Lipoic acid also prevents diabetic neuropathy characterized by pain, burning, and stabbing sensations in the extremities. 300 mg of lipoic acid (of the R form of lipoic acid – see below for more detail) is recommended a day for diabetes management.
Lipoic acid shows promise in the management of breast, lung, liver, and blood cancers like leukemia. Lipoic acid stops cancer cells from reproducing and may trigger apoptosis in cancer cells. Apoptosis is programmed celled death and is a part of normal physiology. It’s the body’s way of getting rid of old non-cancerous cells that have become non-functional. Normal cells can only divide and reproduce so many times. Cancer cells, however, can typically keep dividing without end.
Lipoic acid prevents cancerous cells from even forming as it protects DNA from mutations and damage. It also seems to reduce cancers from spreading by reducing enzymes cancer cells use to spread or invade other tissues. Lipoic acid also protects against some side effects of chemotherapy like diarrhea and intestinal cramping and bloating.
Forms of Supplemental Lipoic Acid
Lipoic acid comes in a R form and a S form. The R form is what the body uses. You have to be careful when shopping for lipoic acid to make sure you are purchasing the R form. Some supplements contain a 50-50 combination of the R form and S form. So you would need to take double amounts of the combination form to get the therapeutic effects of the pure R form of lipoic acid.
Other Benefits of Lipoic Acid
Lipoic acid has also been shown to have health benefits in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, migraine headache prevention, and relief of back pain.