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ALA

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    Liver Support Complex · 90 capsules

    GN Laboratories

    Support the optimal function and perfect health of your liver with perhaps the most comprehensive natural product of its kind Support optimal live...

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    Gluco Rapid GDA · 90 capsules

    GN Laboratories

    Carbohydrates are an important source of energy for the body. They are mainly transported into the cells either in the form of glucose, where they ...

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    GDA · 90 capsules

    Gods Rage

    Carbohydrates provide our body with energy. In the form of glucose, this is transported to the muscles to act as fuel. This is particularly necessa...

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  • NA-R-Alpha Lipoic Acid · 60 Kapseln
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    NA-R-Alpha Lipoic Acid · 60 capsules

    GN Laboratories

    Alpha lipoic acid in its most potent form for antioxidant protection, increased energy, faster post-workout recovery, healthy blood sugar levels an...

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  • ALA 200 · 120 Kapseln
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    ALA 200 · 120 capsules

    Olimp Sport Nutrition

    Food supplement with alpha-lipoic acid Improvement of energy production Protection against the negative effects of oxidation Antioxidant effect Su...

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  • ALA · 50 Kapseln
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    ALA · 50 capsules

    Biotech USA

    Alpha lipoic acid is a vitamin-like antioxidant It dissolves in both fat and water and acts throughout the body A daily dose of 200-300 mg is reco...

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What is alpha-lipoic acid?

Alpha-lipoic acid is a naturally occurring compound that plays a key role in energy metabolism. It was originally discovered in the 1950s as a component of the citric acid cycle. This co-enzyme is a powerful antioxidant and plays an important role in carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, which is why it has now also established itself as a common strength-enhancing supplement in weight training. It is synthesized by humans and animals and is both fat and water soluble. This is where it differs from other antioxidants such as vitamin C, which is only water-soluble, or vitamin E, which is only fat-soluble. This means that alpha-lipoic acid acts as a universal enzyme on all cell types and tissue types and can temporarily accumulate in many body tissues.

Alpha-lipoic acid has attracted a lot of attention in recent years. It is an organic compound that acts as a powerful antioxidant in the body. The body produces alpha-lipoic acid naturally, but it is also found in a number of foods and supplements. Scientific research suggests that alpha-lipoic acid may play a role in weight loss, diabetes and other diseases.

Alpha-lipoic acid is an organic compound that is found in all human cells. Alpha-lipoic acid is produced in the mitochondria, also known as the powerhouses of cells, where it helps enzymes convert nutrients into energy (1). In addition, alpha-lipoic acid has strong antioxidant properties. Alpha lipoic acid is both water and fat soluble, which allows it to be active in every cell and in all body tissue types. Most other antioxidants, on the other hand, are either water or fat soluble (2). Vitamin C, for example, is only water-soluble, while vitamin E is only fat-soluble.

The antioxidant properties of alpha lipoic acid have been linked to health benefits such as lower blood sugar levels, reduced inflammation, slower skin aging and improved nerve function.

The human body only produces small amounts of alpha-lipoic acid, which is why many people turn to supplements to optimize their intake. Animal products such as red meat and offal are good sources of alpha-lipoic acid, but plant sources such as broccoli, tomatoes, spinach and Brussels sprouts also contain this compound. However, supplements contain up to 1000 times more alpha-lipoic acid than food sources (3).

  • Summary: Alpha-lipoic acid is an organic compound that acts as an antioxidant. It is produced in the mitochondria of cells and is also found in foods and supplements.

The function of alpha-lipoic acid:

ALA acts as a coenzyme in many enzymatic reactions and is an absolute all-rounder, as it can protect body cells and tissue in many ways. The most important functions at a glance:

  • Antioxidant: The antioxidant effectively scavenges free radicals. As a result, ALA has an anti-ageing effect, among other things, as the ageing process is largely caused by free radicals.
  • Coenzyme: The coenzyme is involved in a number of enzymatic reactions that are essential for the energy metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. Muscles are able to absorb more glucose for energy production instead of storing it in fat cells. This improves performance and regeneration, which makes alpha-lipoic acid particularly interesting for athletes.
  • Detoxification: Alpha-lipoic acid helps with detoxification by removing heavy metals from the body particularly effectively. Alpha-lipoic acid can be particularly helpful in cases of heavy metal contamination in the central nervous system and brain.
  • Regeneration of the nerves: If nerves are damaged by radiotherapy or high blood sugar levels, alpha-lipoic acid can have a positive effect on them. The damaged nerves can regenerate very well.
  • Antioxidant of antioxidants: Free radical scavengers such as vitamin C or E can themselves become radicals. Alpha lipoic acid can then perfectly recycle the radical scavengers, which have themselves become radicals through the reaction with oxygen radicals.
  • Cell protection: Alpha-lipoic acid protects cell membranes from the inside as well as from the outside in order to protect the membrane around the DNA-containing cell nucleus.

Alpha-lipoic acid daily requirement

Optimal supply for athletes: Alpha-lipoic acid is very quickly absorbed, rapidly metabolized and just as quickly removed from the plasma and tissue. This means that a daily supply of several small doses makes more sense than a large single dose. If possible, alpha-lipoic acid should be taken with a carbohydrate-containing meal to avoid hypoglycaemia. On training days, it should be taken immediately after a training session so that the nutrients can be absorbed quickly and effectively into the body, specifically the muscle cells.

Can alpha-lipoic acid be stored or must it be taken daily? Alpha lipoic acid should be taken daily if possible due to its rapid absorption and metabolism.

How can you take alpha lipoic acid?

Alpha lipoic acid is found in both animal and plant foods. Good sources of alpha lipoic acid include (3):

  • Red meat
  • Offal such as liver (0.090 mg), heart (0.15 mg), kidneys (0.26 mg), etc.
  • Broccoli (0.09 mg), spinach (0.31 mg)
  • Tomatoes
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Potatoes
  • Green peas
  • Rice bran

Alpha lipoic acid is also available in the form of supplements. Supplements can contain up to 1000 times more alpha-lipoic acid than food (3). Alpha-lipoic acid is best taken on an empty stomach, as certain foods can reduce the bioavailability of this acid (40). Although there is no officially recommended dosage, most research suggests that 300 to 600 mg is sufficient and safe.

People suffering from diabetic complications or cognitive disorders may require more alpha-lipoic acid. In such cases, it is best to ask your doctor how much is sufficient.

Why supplement alpha-lipoic acid?

Supplementation of alpha-lipoic acid can lead to measurable gains in strength and muscle mass. In addition, ALA is able to neutralize free radicals directly, both in the membranes and in the cells. This is particularly important for sportspeople and athletes, as the intense physical stress they undergo during strength training or cardio sessions can cause a great deal of oxidative damage, which leads to the release of free radicals in the body. For this reason, antioxidants are essential for maintaining the health of an athlete's body and cells.

Alpha lipoic acid and weight loss

Scientific research has shown that alpha-lipoic acid can influence weight loss in several ways.

Animal studies suggest that alpha-lipoic acid can reduce the activity of the enzyme AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase), which is found in the hypothalamus (4, 5). When AMPK is more active, this increases the feeling of hunger. Suppressing the activity of AMPK, on the other hand, could increase the amount of calories your body burns at rest. Experimental animals given alpha-lipoic acid therefore burned more calories (6, 7). However, human studies have concluded that alpha-lipoic acid has little effect on weight loss. An analysis of 12 studies found that people who took an alpha-lipoic acid supplement lost an average of 0.7 kilos more over 14 weeks than people who only took a placebo (8). The same analysis concluded that alpha-lipoic acid did not significantly affect waist circumference.

Another analysis of 12 studies found that subjects taking alpha-lipoic acid lost 1.27 kilograms more than subjects in the placebo group over 23 weeks (9). In short, alpha-lipoic acid appears to have only a relatively minor effect on weight loss.

  • Summary: Although alpha-lipoic acid has some properties that could promote weight loss, the overall effect in this regard appears to be small in humans.

Alpha lipoic acid and diabetes

More than 400 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes (10). A key feature of uncontrolled diabetes is high blood sugar levels, which, if left untreated, can lead to numerous health problems such as blindness, heart disease and kidney failure. Alpha lipoic acid has become a popular supplement potentially suitable for supporting diabetes treatment, as studies have shown that it can lower blood glucose levels in both animals and humans. In animal studies, alpha-lipoic acid has been shown to reduce blood glucose levels by up to 64% (11, 12). Studies conducted with humans suffering from metabolic syndrome have shown that alpha lipoic acid can reduce existing insulin resistance and lower both fasting blood glucose and HbA1c levels.

Scientists believe that alpha lipoic acid helps lower blood sugar levels by promoting processes that can remove fat that has accumulated in muscle cells and can make insulin less effective (13). In addition, alpha lipoic acid may reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications. For example, alpha-lipoic acid has been shown to alleviate symptoms of nerve damage and reduce the risk of diabetic retinopathy (eye damage), both of which can occur as a result of poorly controlled diabetes (14, 15, 16). These effects are believed to be due to the powerful antioxidant properties of alpha-lipoic acid (17). Although alpha-lipoic acid has been shown to support blood sugar control, it is not considered a complete diabetes therapy. If you have diabetes and would like to try alpha-lipoic acid, you should discuss this with your doctor in advance, as alpha-lipoic acid may interact with your diabetes medication.

  • Summary: Alpha-lipoic acid has been shown to reduce existing insulin resistance, improve blood sugar control, relieve symptoms of nerve damage and reduce the risk of diabetic retinopathy.

Other health benefits of alpha lipoic acid

Alpha-lipoic acid has been linked to a number of other health benefits.

Alpha lipoic acid could slow down skin ageing

Scientific research has shown that alpha-lipoic acid may help to combat the signs of skin ageing. In human studies, scientists found that applying a cream containing alpha lipoic acid to the skin can reduce fine lines, wrinkles and skin imperfections without side effects (18). When alpha-lipoic acid is applied to the skin, it reaches the inner layers of the skin where it provides antioxidant protection against the sun's harmful UV rays (19, 20).

In addition, alpha-lipoic acid increases levels of other antioxidants such as vitamin C and glutathione, which can help protect against skin damage and reduce signs of aging (21, 22).

Alpha lipoic acid could slow down a reduction in memory performance

Declining memory is a common problem in older people. Oxidative stress is believed to play a critical role in memory decline (23). Because alpha-lipoic acid is a potent antioxidant, studies have investigated its ability to slow the progression of disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, which are characterized by memory decline.

Both laboratory and human studies have shown that alpha-lipoic acid can slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease by neutralizing free radicals and suppressing inflammation (24, 25, 26). There are only a handful of studies on the effect of alpha-lipoic acid on diseases associated with memory decline. Further research is therefore needed before alpha-lipoic acid can be recommended for the treatment of such disorders.

Alpha-lipoic acid promotes healthy nerve function

Scientific research has shown that alpha-lipoic acid promotes healthy nerve function. For example, alpha-lipoic acid has been found to slow the progression of carpal tunnel syndrome - a nerve condition associated with numbness and tingling in the hands and fingers due to constricted nerves - in its early stages (27). In addition, taking alpha lipoic acid before and after surgery to treat carpal tunnel syndrome may improve the results of such surgery (28). Studies have also shown that alpha-lipoic acid can alleviate the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, which is characterized by nerve pain caused by poorly controlled diabetes (14, 15).

Alpha lipoic acid can reduce inflammation

Chronic inflammation has been linked to serious diseases such as cancer and diabetes. Alpha-lipoic acid has been shown to reduce levels of several inflammatory markers. An analysis of 11 studies concluded that alpha-lipoic acid can reduce levels of C-reactive protein - an inflammatory marker - in adults with elevated levels of these proteins (29).

In the test tube, alpha-lipoic acid was able to reduce the levels of numerous other inflammatory markers including NF-kB, ICAM-1, VCAM-1, MMP-2, MMP-9 and IL-6 (30, 31, 32, 33).

Alpha-lipoic acid could reduce risk factors for heart disease

Heart disease is responsible for about 25% of all deaths in the Western world (34). Research combining laboratory, animal and human studies has shown that the antioxidant properties of alpha-lipoic acid may reduce several risk factors for heart disease. First, the antioxidant properties of alpha-lipoic acid allow it to neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative stress, which is associated with damage that increases the risk of heart disease (35). Secondly, alpha-lipoic acid has been shown to alleviate endothelial dysfunction - a disorder characterized by the inability of blood vessels to dilate properly, which also increases the risk of heart attack and stroke (36, 37).

In addition, a study review concluded that taking an alpha-lipoic acid supplement can lower triglyceride levels and levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol in adults suffering from metabolic syndrome (13).

  • Summary: Alpha-lipoic acid has powerful antioxidant properties that may reduce inflammation, slow skin aging, promote healthy nerve function, lower the risk of heart disease and slow the progression of disorders that cause memory decline.

Side effects of alpha lipoic acid

Alpha-lipoic acid is generally considered safe and free or low in side effects. In some cases, there may be mild side effects such as nausea, skin redness or itching. However, scientific research shows that adults can use up to 2,400 mg of alpha lipoic acid without harmful side effects (38). Higher doses are not recommended as there is no evidence that they provide any additional benefits. In addition, animal studies have found that extremely high doses of alpha-lipoic acid can promote oxidation, alter liver enzymes and stress liver and breast tissue (38, 39).

To date, there are hardly any studies that have investigated the safety of alpha-lipoic acid in children and pregnant women, which is why people in these groups should only use alpha-lipoic acid under medical supervision. Diabetics should discuss the use of alpha lipoic acid with their doctor, as it may interact with medications used to lower blood sugar levels.

  • Summary: Alpha lipoic acid is generally considered safe with few or no side effects. In some cases, mild side effects such as nausea, skin redness and itching may occur.

Conclusion

Alpha lipoic acid is an organic compound with antioxidant properties. It is produced naturally in the body in small amounts and is also found in foods and supplements.

Alpha-lipoic acid can have positive effects on diabetes and heart health, slow down skin ageing, improve memory and support weight loss. Doses of 300 to 600 mg appear to be safe and effective with no significant side effects.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21297908
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22125537
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1734114011706004
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18445126
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15195087
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20015518
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19262508
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28629898
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28295905
  10. http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/diabetes
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9252495
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8690147
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29990473
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17272797
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25381809
  16. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006291X18315365
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22001972
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24056055
  19. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0006295296003371
  20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8932519
  21. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/10715762.2011.587420
  22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20977120
  23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24183945
  24. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18655815
  25. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17982894
  26. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26316990
  27. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19499849
  28. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2935657
  29. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0939475318301248
  30. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15655130
  31. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16644024
  32. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24160412
  33. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25104975
  34. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm
  35. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25949771
  36. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jdr/2015/474561/
  37. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/omcl/2015/313021/
  38. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0273230006001140
  39. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16034676
  40. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs002280050151