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Alpha Lipoic Acid

Updated on February 11, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Image courtesy Amazon
Image courtesy Amazon

Alpha Lipoic Acid is an over the counter antioxidant that is producing amazing results among many people for many different maladies.

It is fat-soluble and functions much like the B vitamins. It is not, however, a true vitamin because it can be synthesized in small amounts by the body. Interestingly, alpha lipoic acid actually regenerates and recycles vitamins C and E, allowing them to work longer and more effectively in the system.

Antioxidants neutralize the free radicals that attack human cells. These free radicals occur in the environment and are a result of such things as:

  • Ultraviolet rays

  • Car exhaust

  • Toxic chemicals

  • Pesticides

  • Radiation

  • Cigarette smoke

...and more. Over a long period of time the free radicals damage and weaken various cells and the immune system is compromised. Because it is soluble in both fat and water, ALA can move into all parts of a cell to neutralize the effects of free-radicals.

It is quickly becoming known by researchers as one of the most effective antioxidants known today.

Diabetic and Other Peripheral Neuropathy

A study carried out by both the Mayo Clinic and a medical center in Russia reported that alpha lipoic acid reduced the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy quickly. Not only were the frequency of the symptoms reduced but the intensity of the symptoms were also reduced. These findings were reported in the March 2003 issue of Diabetes Care.

The symptoms that were reduced or eliminated were:

  • Burning pan
  • Prickling sensations
  • Numbness

German doctors have been using alpha lipoic acid with good results since 1959. There are very few, if any side effects reported, and it is considered completely safe by most physicians.

The average dose required to see improvement in neuropathy is 800 mg per day.

ALA and Diabetes

Vascular Disease

Another area where alpha lipoic acid is being used with incredible results is in cardiac patients and people who are in danger of developing atherosclerosis.

Studies found that these supplements reduced atherosclerotic lesion formation (in mice) by 55 percent. There was less weight gain and cholesterol build up. Researches believe that using alpha lipoic acid as a preventative could keep people from developing the various forms of vascular diseases.

This particular study was published in American Heart Association's publication, Circulation.

Other Diseases

ALA has been used to treat many other diseases, including:

  • HIV

  • Sciatica

  • Cancer

  • Liver problems and hepatitis

  • Stroke

  • Cataracts

  • Glaucoma

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Burning mouth syndromeA
  • Alzheimer's disease

Side Effects and Interactions

Remarkably there are no known serious side effects to this powerful antioxidant. Once in awhile a person will get a pins and needles feeling after taking it, much like what happens with B12.

Most researchers felt that It did not react with any other known medications. Some researchers felt that it had the potential to interact with:

  • Amikacin and Gentamicin

  • Cisplatin and Cyclophosphamide
  • Thyroid-regulating Medications, Levothyroxine

It is highly unlikely that someone would be allergic to it.

If you are diabetic and taking insulin be sure to talk to your doctor. Use of alpha lipoic acid may reduce your need for insulin

How to Take ALA

Alpha Lipoic Acid should not be taken by children. There just have been no studies to show that it is safe.

The usual dose is 300 to 1800 mg daily, depending on what is being treated and the severity.

For general immune support an adult should take 20mg to 50 mg per day.

For Glaucoma, excellent results were achieved at a 150 mg does, broken up into three doses per day.

Neuropathy and other severe illnesses seem to respond best to 600 to 800 mg per day broken up into two or three doses.

Alpha Lipoic Acid is an inexpensive antioxidant that is worth looking in to. If you have neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, or any other disease of the nervous system consider talking to your health care provider about taking ALA.


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    • BlissfulWriter profile image

      BlissfulWriter 6 years ago

      Alpha lipoic acid is the most powerful antioxidant out there -- 400 times more powerful than vitamin E and C combined. I wrote about it and take it daily.

    • Bruce Edward profile image

      Bruce Edward 7 years ago from Encinitas Ca

      I agree good work getting the word out, especially regarding Diabetics

    • profile image

      Ana Louis 9 years ago

      This is interesting and I would love to give it a try, I take thyroid med though and might need to ask my doctor first. Thanks for a the info.

    • Bob Ewing profile image

      Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

      This is very useful information, thanks.

    • wannabwestern profile image

      Carolyn Augustine 9 years ago from The Land of Tractors

      I experienced secondary infertility for 8 years, with a diagnosis of PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome). One day I was reading a Woman's Day magazine article and learned that PCOS has been linked to diabetes! I decided it was time to really start taking care of myself and started an exercise and dietary regimen that included taking ALA, magnesium, calcium, and flax seed oil. I started feeling really good and even lost about 30 lbs. But the big surprise was about 6 months later when I became pregnant with number 2. Since then I have had number 3. This stuff really works!

    • rodney southern profile image

      rodney southern 9 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      Interesting information. Well done!