What Is Alpha-Lipoic Acid?
Alpha-lipoic acid is also called thioctic acid or just lipoic acid and abbreviated ALA — but don't confuse it with the other ALA, alpha-linoleic acid — which is an omega fatty acid.
ALA is a coenzyme necessary for the Krebs cycle, which is the sequence of chemical reactions by which every living cell produces energy.
ALA occurs in two forms that are mirror images of each other, called R- and S-lipoic acid. Only R-LA is synthesized naturally in the body and naturally occurs in food. It may also exist in a form called Na R Lipoic acid; the Na refers to the sodium (Na) salt that stabilizes the R-lipoic acid. The sodium keeps each molecule separate and more readily available for the body.
Where Do You Get Alpha-Lipoic Acid?
There are several ways you can obtain alpha-lipoic acid. First and foremost, the cells in your body naturally produce it. Many foods contain alpha-lipoic acid, and it's also available as a nutritional supplement. Additionally, alpha-lipoic acid is an ingredient in anti-aging skin care creams and, in some situations, administered by injection.
Cells produce a small amount of alpha-lipoic acid. However, the amount of ALA your body produces declines as you age or when your immune system is compromised. Numerous scientific studies have found that supplementation provides substantial therapeutic benefits, suggesting that supplemental ALA can complement a healthy lifestyle.
Foods That Contain Alpha-Lipoic Acid
Alpha-lipoic acid is naturally present in many foods. While animal tissue, especially organ meats like the kidneys, liver, and heart, contain a lot of this nutrient, there are also plant-based sources, including vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, flaxseed oil, chia seeds, and walnuts.
Nutritional & Therapeutic Supplements
If your body doesn't produce enough ALA or you don't get enough in your diet, which is especially true in Western culture where people consume processed foods and are exposed to environmental toxins, a nutritional supplement that contains ALA can help. Supplemental servings of ALA typically range from 50 to 600 mg, which is up to 1000 times more than naturally occurs in food. Most supplements contain 50-50 combinations of the mirror image isomers, while the highest quality supplements only contain pure R-LA. Studies show that the body absorbs ALA best on an empty stomach.
Top 10 Benefits of Alpha-Lipoic Acid
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