Alpha-lipoic acid: Everything you need to know

Alpha-lipoic acid is an organic compound in the body that acts as a potent antioxidant. It may have several health benefits.

While the body produces alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) naturally, a person can boost their levels by making suitable dietary choices, taking supplements, or both.

Supplementing with ALA is becoming increasingly popular, as some people believe that it may help with weight loss, diabetes, memory loss, skin health, and other health conditions.

In this article, learn about its effectiveness, possible benefits, and side effects.

What is ALA?

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People can increase their ALA levels by taking supplements.

ALA is present within mitochondria, which are the powerhouses of the cells.

ALA is crucial for digestion, absorption, and the creation of energy. It helps enzymes turn nutrients into energy. It also has antioxidant properties.

Since humans can only produce ALA in small amounts, many people turn to supplements to increase their intake.


Uses and benefits

ALA may have an impact on the following:

Weight loss

Some claim that ALA may help people lose weight. For example, one study on an animal model found that ALA could improve skeletal muscle energy metabolism, possibly increasing how many calories the body can burn.

However, studies also show that the impact of ALA on weight loss is small. According to a 2018 analysis, those taking ALA supplements only lost an average of 1.52 pounds and did not experience a significant change in their waist circumference.

Diabetes

Some research suggests that ALA may help the body control blood sugar levels and improve cholesterol levels.

Research has also shown that it could reduce nerve damage symptoms that are common in people with diabetes, such as numbness, pain, and paralysis.

Inflammation

According to one 2018 analysis, ALA can significantly lower C-reactive protein (CRP) levels.

CRP is an inflammation marker that may indicate chronic inflammation linked to harmful diseases such as diabetes and cancer.

Heart disease

According to some research, ALA, because it is a potent antioxidant, may help reduce oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is one of the primary causes of heart disease.

A review of several randomized controlled trials also found that ALA could lower levels of “bad” cholesterol, another risk factor for heart disease.

Memory loss

Oxidative stress occurs naturally with age. As well as playing a role in the development of heart disease, it also plays a critical role in brain health and memory loss.

According to a study in participants with Alzheimer’s disease, ALA may slow the progression of the condition.

The researchers suggested that this might be due to ALA’s positive effects on insulin resistance and blood sugar metabolism, as diabetes is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.

Does it work?

Some studies show that ALA may have health benefits including reducing inflammation, aiding weight loss, and lowering the risk of heart disease.

However, many of these studies were small, short-term, or in animal models. More research is needed to determine whether ALA is an effective treatment or preventative measure for the conditions and issues listed above.


Possible side effects

redness and itching are common symptoms
Mild side effects of ALA can include itching.

Doctors consider ALA to be safe for most people, with little to no risk of side effects. Mild effects may include nausea, rashes, and itching if a person takes high doses.

According to researchers, adults may take it up to 2,400 milligrams without serious side effects. There is not enough research and evidence on the extra benefits and potential side effects of taking higher doses, so medical professionals do not recommend it.

There is not enough evidence on its safety for use in children, however, so adults should always keep ALA in a safe place.

It is essential for people considering taking ALA supplements to talk to their doctor to see if it is right for them.


Takeaway

ALA is an organic compound that acts as an antioxidant and has a variety of other effects on the body. While the body makes it naturally, some people also choose to take ALA supplements.

Research suggests that ALA may help with weight loss, diabetes, memory loss, and some other health conditions. However, there is not enough research to understand its full benefits or effectiveness in humans.

ALA is generally safe for adults, but it is best to speak with a doctor before taking any new supplements.

ALA supplements are available in some pharmacies, health food stores, and online.

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