Alpha Lipoic Acid

Posted on by in alpha lipoic acid, Anti Aging, Antioxidants, supplement and vitamin for cancer, supplement and vitamin for HIV

Alpha lipoic acid (also known as lipoic acid, thioctic acid, or ALA) is a fatty acid found naturally inside every cell in the body. It’s needed by the body to produce the energy for our body’s normal functions. Alpha lipoic acid converts glucose (blood sugar) into energy.

Alpha lipoic acid is also an antioxidant, a substance that neutralizes potentially harmful chemicals called free radicals. Alpha-lipoic acid has been called a “universal antioxidant” because it is both water- and fat-soluble, and thus can penetrate tissues composed mainly of fat, such as the nervous system, as well as those made mainly of water, unlike the more common antioxidants vitamins C and E, and it appears to be able to recycle antioxidants such as vitamin C and glutathione after they have been used up. Glutathione is an important antioxidant that helps the body eliminate potentially harmful substances. Alpha lipoic acid increases the formation of glutathione.Many studies have been conducted confirming the health benefits of alpha-lipoic acid, including recent findings that ALA offers neuroprotective and possibly cognitive enhancing effects.

In the cells of the body, alpha-lipoic acid is converted into dihydrolipoic acid. Alpha-lipoic acid is not the same as alpha linolenic acid, which is an omega-3 fatty acid that may help heart health (See also: Alpha linolenic acid. Confusion can arise because both are sometimes abbreviated ALA.

Besides taking ALA for its general benefits as an antioxidant, studies have shown that alpha lipoic acid can help with the following conditions:

• Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
• Coronary Heart Disease
• Metabolic Syndrome (high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol
• Peripheral Neuropathy (caused by diabetes and other conditions, such as Lyme
disease, alcoholism, shingles, thyroid disease and kidney failure)
• Diabetes (improving glucose metabolism and helping diabetics utilize insulin better)
• Liver Disease
• Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer (increasing long-term survival)
• Impaired Brain Function (as a treatment for stroke and other brain disorders
involving free radical damage, including Alzheimer’s disease)
• Effects of Aging (improving blood flow and enhancing immune function, restoring
levels of glutathione, a protective antioxidant and detoxification compound)
• Degenerative Diseases (ALA is a strong anti-inflammatory agent)
• Glaucoma and Cataracts

Hypertension (Elevated Blood Pressure); Coronary Heart Disease or Metabolic Syndrome (high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol): If you have hypertension or a build-up of plaque in your arteries from elevated cholesterol, you may benefit from alpha lipoic acid. The Boston University School of Medicine found that a combination of lipoic acid with another nutrient – acetyl-L-carnitine -helps lower blood pressure by increasing the width of arteries that had been constricted due to the build-up of plaque. Lipoic acid also improves the function of the mitochondria-a crucial part of the cell–involved in proper coronary vascular function.

Peripheral Neuropathy

: If you suffer from burning, pain, numbness or itching in your legs and feet caused by peripheral neuropathy, alpha lipoic acid may ease your symptoms. This condition can be caused by diabetes and other conditions, such as Lyme disease, alcoholism, shingles, thyroid disease and kidney failure. Certain injuries can also cause the above symptoms, as well as nutritional deficiencies and chemotherapy.

In 2003, researchers at the Mayo Clinic discovered that patients with diabetic neuropathy who received high doses of intravenous alpha lipoic acid had a threefold improvement in pain, numbness and other symptoms, compared with those treated with a placebo. Lipoic acid also seemed to increase blood flow and oxygen to the nerves, actually improving their condition. Used in Europe for over 30 years in treating diabetes, lipoic acid may also help cells better metabolize glucose. Many more studies are now being conducted in the U.S. and around the world to determine the role of ALA in helping diabetics utilize insulin.

Liver Disease

: Alpha lipoic acid was first used in the 1970s as a treatment for various forms of hepatitis by Burton M. Berkson, MD, MS, PhD, from the National Institutes of Health. The researchers administered alpha lipoic intravenously to 79 people with acute and severe liver damage at medical centers across the United States, and 75 recovered full liver function. In 2006, Dr. Berkson also reported using lipoic acid to increase the long-term survival of a patient suffering from metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Before 1977, if you suffered from severe liver disease – often caused by ingesting a toxin (mushroom poisoning, for example) – your only hope for recovery was a liver transplant. But in 1977, Dr. Berkson administered alpha lipoic acid intravenously to a patient dying from liver disease. The patient surprised doctors and not only recovered, but was free of liver disease 30 years later.

Brain Function and Stroke

Able to pass easily through the brain, alpha lipoic acid helps protect the brain and nerve tissue. It is currently being investigated as a treatment for stroke and other brain disorders involving free radical damage, including Alzheimer’s disease. Preliminary research shows that animals treated with lipoic acid suffered less brain damage and had four-times greater survival rate after a stroke than animals who didn’t receive this supplement. More research is needed to understand whether this benefit applies to people as well.

Anti-Aging Compound:

In May, 2007, Science Daily reported that alpha lipoic acid seemed to slow down the process of aging in animals by improving blood flow and enhancing immune function, as well as positively affecting several other factors involved in aging. Research findings were presented at Oregon State University (OSU) in a conference on Diet and Optimum Health. “The evidence suggests that lipoic acid is actually a low-level stressor that turns on the basic cellular defenses of the body, including some of those that naturally decline with age,” said Tory Hagen, an LPI researcher and associate professor of biochemistry and biophysics at OSU. “In particular, it tends to restore levels of glutathione, a protective antioxidant and detoxification compound, to those of a young animal. It also acts as a strong anti-inflammatory agent, which is relevant to many degenerative diseases.”

Eye Benefits

Free radicals are a major cause of cataract formation, according to Marc Grossman, O.D. Because high glucose levels also increase cataract formation, diabetics have three to four times the risk of developing cataracts over people without diabetes, Grossman states. Alpha-lipoic acid may help lower glucose levels by increasing insulin sensitivity. A Russian study published in the October-December 1995 issue of “Vestnik Oftamologii” reported that 45 percent to 47 percent of people in groups treated with lipoic acid showed improvement. Researchers attributed the improvement to antioxidant properties of LA and its influence on ocular metabolism

Disadvantages

Alpha-lipoic acid is eliminated rapidly from cells, according to the Linus Pauling Institute, so its benefits may not be sustained. Since LA may lower glucose levels, people with diabetes who take anti-diabetic drugs could experience hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, when taking LA. Allergic reactions such as rash, hives and itching may also occur when taking supplements. Do not take LA without discussing its use with your doctor. Safe use in pregnancy has not been established.
Considerations

Some of the leading causes of blindness, such as cataracts and macular degeneration, are associated with cellular damage from free radicals, researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine reported in the September 2010 issue of “Ophthalmic Research.” For diabetics, reducing blood glucose levels helps prevent diabetic retinopathy, another leading cause of blindness. Supplemental LA may not only reduce damage to DNA in cells from free radicals, but may also improve blood glucose levels.

Diabetes

Alpha-lipoic acid can lower blood sugar levels, and its ability to kill free radicals may help reduce pain, burning, itching, tingling, and numbness in people who have nerve damage caused by diabetes (called peripheral neuropathy). Alpha-lipoic acid has been used for years for this purpose in Europe, and at least one study found that intravenous (IV) doses of alpha-lipoic acid helped reduce symptoms. However, the evidence indicating that taking alpha-lipoic acid orally will help is weaker. Most studies have been small and poorly designed. One 2006 study did show benefit from taking alpha-lipoic acid for diabetic neuropathy compared to placebo.

Taking alpha-lipoic acid does appear to help another diabetes-related condition called autonomic neuropathy, which affects the nerves supplying the heart. One study found that 73 people with autonomic neuropathy improved when taking 800 mg of alpha-lipoic acid orally compared to placebo.

Other

Some preliminary studies suggest alpha-lipoic acid may be helpful in treating glaucoma, but there is not enough evidence to say for sure whether it is beneficial. In test tubes, alpha-lipoic acid appears to inhibit growth of the HIV virus, but it isn’t known whether the supplement would have the same effect in people.
Dietary Sources:

A healthy body makes enough alpha-lipoic acid. It is also found in red meat, organ meats (such as liver), and yeast (particularly Brewer’s yeast).
Available Forms:

Alpha-lipoic acid supplements are available as capsules. It may also be given by injection under the supervision of a health care provider.
How to Take It:

Pediatric

Because alpha-lipoic acid has not been studied for pediatric use, do not give it to children.

Adult

Alpha-lipoic acid can be purchased in doses of 30 – 100 mg tablets. There are no established recommended doses.

* General antioxidant support: 20 – 50 mg per day
* Diabetes and diabetic neuropathy: 800 mg per day in divided doses

Precautions:

Because of the potential for side effects and interactions with medications, you should take dietary supplements only under the supervision of a health care provider.

No evidence suggests whether or not alpha-lipoic acid is safe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, so such women should not take alpha-lipoic acid.

Foods High in Alpha Lipoic Acid

  • Some foods that are good sources of alpha lipoic acid include broccoli, beef, spinach, yeast, and various organic meats, like heart and kidney.

Side effects are generally rare and may include skin rash.

Alpha-lipoic acid can lower blood sugar levels, so people with diabetes or hypoglycemia should take alpha-lipoic acid only under the supervision of their doctor. (See “Interactions” section.)

Results of animal studies suggest that people who are deficient in thiamine (vitamin B1), a condition often associated with alcoholism, should not take alpha-lipoic acid.
Possible Interactions:

If you are currently being treated with any of the following medications, you should not use alpha-lipoic acid without first talking to your health care provider.

Insulin and drugs that lower blood sugar — Apha-lipoic acid can combine with these drugs to further reduce blood sugar levels, resulting in hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Tell your doctor before taking alpha-lipoic acid and monitor your blood sugar levels closely; your doctor may need to adjust your medication doses.

Thyroid-regulating medications, Levothyroxine — Apha-lipoic acid may lower levels of thyroid hormone. Blood hormone levels and thyroid function tests should be monitored closely in people taking thyroid hormones who are also taking alpha-lipoic acid.
Alternative Names:

Dihydrolipoic acid; Lipoic acid; Lipolate; Thiotic acid

thank you and references

http://altmedicine.about.com/od/alphalipoicacid/a/alphalipoicacid.htm

http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/alpha-lipoic-000285.htm

http://www.alphalipoicacid.com

http://www.vitaminstuff.com/alpha-lipoic-acid.html

http://www.ehow.com/about_4760004_alpha-lipoic-acid-benefits.html

http://www.livestrong.com/article/426842-alpha-lipoic-acids-benefits-for-eyes/

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