Alpha-lipoic acid is a type of antioxidant. While most of the other antioxidants are either water or fat soluble, alpha-lipoic acid is a unique antioxidant that dissolves in both water and fats. Hence, it can work in all types of body cells. Apart from neutralizing the free radicals, alpha-lipoic acid also helps in regenerating other antioxidants such as glutathione and vitamins C and E. Hence, intake of foods rich in alpha-lipoic acid or alpha-lipoic acid supplementation can significantly boost the antioxidant status of your body. Furthermore, alpha-lipoic acid aids conversion of glucose into energy.
Studies have shown that alpha-lipoic acid is also effective in fighting a number of chronic illnesses. If you are wondering why alpha-lipoic acid is beneficial for your health, here are the reasons.
Benefits of Alpha-Lipoic Acid:
Reduces High Blood Sugar Level
In people with type 2 diabetes, although insulin is available in the body, resistance to insulin prevents the body cells from absorbing glucose, which spikes the blood sugar level. Studies have shown that alpha-lipoic acid supplementation helps in improving sensitivity to insulin. Hence, people with type 2 diabetes can take alpha-lipoic acid supplements for managing their blood sugar level.
Prevents Diabetes Related Nerve Damage
Increase in oxidative stress in diabetics is a leading cause of nerve damage in the legs and arms. The condition, known as diabetic peripheral neuropathy, can be prevented with the help of alpha-lipoic acid. The antioxidant activity of alpha-lipoic acid neutralizes the free radicals that damage the nerves. Studies have shown that alpha-lipoic acid supplements help in reducing symptoms of peripheral neuropathy such as numbness, pain and tingling in the legs and arms. It can even reduce the risk of autonomic neuropathy.
Reduces Dementia Risk
Free radical induced cell damage is considered to be one of the leading causes of age-related cognitive impairment. As alpha-lipoic acid can easily cross the blood-brain barrier, it protects the brain cells from the free radicals, thereby reducing the risk of memory problems.
Slows Down Skin Aging
The antioxidant property of alpha-lipoic acid can also help in delaying wrinkling of the skin. Its antioxidant activity protects the skin from damage caused by exposure to sunlight and environmental pollutants. In a study, researchers found that applying skin cream containing 5% alpha-lipoic acid helped in erasing wrinkles and fine lines.
Good for Eyes
Alpha-lipoic acid is beneficial for the eyesight. By fighting oxidative stress, it can help in reducing risks of cataract and glaucoma. It can also prevent degradation of the retinal cells.
Reduces Loss of Bone Minerals
Alpha-lipoic acid inhibits production of osteoclasts, a type of bone cells that are responsible for degradation of the bones. Excess osteoclasts production causes osteoporosis. Hence, alpha-lipoic acid helps in building strong bones.
Helps in Weight Loss
Alpha-lipoic acid also helps overweight and obese individuals to lose weight. In a study, researchers found that overweight adults who took 1800 mg of alpha-lipoic acid daily for up to 20 weeks lost significant amount of body fat. As alpha-lipoic acid stimulates breakdown of carbohydrates and fats, it improves metabolism. Studies have also shown that it helps in suppressing appetite.
Side Effects of Alpha-Lipoic Acid
Side effects following intake of alpha-lipoic acid are rare. In a small number of cases, alpha-lipoic acid supplements may trigger side effects such as mouth rash, dizziness and nausea. It may cause thiamine deficiency. Hence, people on alpha-lipoic acid supplement should take a thiamine supplement. It may even interact with drugs used for treating thyroid disorders.
Foods Rich in Alpha-Lipoic Acid
Apart from supplements, you can meet your alpha-lipoic acid need by consuming red meat especially organ meat. Plant foods provide a small amount of alpha-lipoic acid. Major plant sources of alpha-lipoic acid are spinach, potato, carrots, broccoli, Brussels sprout, beets, yam and rice bran.