Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is a naturally occurring fatty acid that is widely present in our cells and essential for life. ALA was discovered by biochemist Esmond Emerson Snell in 1937. ALA functions an energy producer within the mitochondria of our cells and a multifaceted antioxidant throughout our bodies. Health benefits of ALA include better glycemic control for diabetic patients, weight loss and improved cardiovascular health.
ALA protects our DNA from oxidative damage and heavy metals. Because ALA is able to function in water and fat environments, it is a valuable and versatile antioxidant. ALA regenerates other powerful antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E and glutathione. All of the antioxidant properties of ALA ultimately slow the aging process for our bodies and improve overall organ function. Additionally, ALA has the ability to penetrate protective brain barriers, allowing it to provide its benefits to brain nerve tissue.
In diabetic patients, ALA administration has shown to help skeletal cells express particular receptors (GLUT1 and GLUT4 receptors) in their membranes. These receptors play a large role in decreasing blood sugar levels, leading to a decrease in insulin resistance and associated damage to eyes, kidneys and nerves from long standing type 2 diabetes. For those diabtetic patients with burning/itching pain (known as diabetic neuropathy), ALA can serve as a treatment that reduces discomfort from these symptoms. Research studies over the past decade have reported cardiovascular benefits associated with ALA, such as raising healthy levels of healthy HDL cholesterol and lowering unhealthy LDL cholesterol. Studies have shown that patients who were received ALA supplements had improved heart function and reduction in atherotic plaques present in large arteries. Ultimately this improves the ability for blood to travel to tissues and provide vital oxygen and nutrients. With respect to weight loss, ALA inhibits the birth of new fat cells by influencing cellular pathways, resulting in less potential for fat storage.
ALA infusions are beneficial because dietary sources contain low amounts of ALA. Taking an oral ALA supplement can be beneficial, however, the most potent and readily available form will be the infusion which bypasses the digestive tract.