Quite popular antioxidant, Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) was first isolated by Dr. Lester Reed from the University of Texas in 1950. During the first few years, ALA was researched only for its activity on glucose to produce energy. However, in 1980, the antioxidant benefits of alpha lipoic acid came into light. Being both fat and water soluble and able to cross the brain blood barrier, it is known as a universal antioxidant. Due to this, it is safe to be transported to all the organs of the body. ALA is also capable of destroying free radicals inside as well as outside the cells, that is, before they enter into the cells to damage them.
How ALA Functions?
ALA acts as a strong antioxidant, the job of which is to destroy free radicals in the body. Free radicals are the molecules that lack an electron and are called electronegative molecules. These molecules have several harmful effects on the body. To make themselves positive, they attack other molecules in the body and give an electron to another molecule or take one from another molecule. This way they make other molecules electronegative. This chain goes on unless an antioxidant acts upon it. Antioxidants damage free radicals and neutralise their effects.
Apart from being a powerful antioxidant, ALA enhances the potency of other antioxidants as well, like vitamins C and E, coenzyme Q10, and glutathione. When antioxidants are in reduced form, they donate an electron and when they are in oxidised form, they receive an electron. In its reduced form, ALA gives an electron to oxidised vitamin C or glutathione and brings them in their reduced forms so that they can damage free radicals. Same way, vitamin C can turn vitamin E into its reduced form to activate it to fight against free radicals. In this manner, ALA supports the effectiveness of other antioxidants and thus acts as a potent antioxidant supplement.
Health Benefits of Alpha Lipoic Acid
Scientists have researched on the use of alpha lipoic acid effectively against diabetes, as it has the ability to maintain a healthy glucose level in the body. It effectively reduces the pain, numbness and burning caused as a result of diabetes-induced numbness.
Research has shown the effect of ALA on stopping the HIV virus from replicating in test tubes. Due to its strong antioxidant benefits, it has shown positive results for HIV positive patients since they have compromised immune system. Studies suggest that the level of glutathione significantly increased after supplementing HIV patients with ALA.
ALA has shown its efficacy in reducing the chances of cataracts, preventing eyes from degeneration and improving the vision in people suffering from glaucoma.
ALA benefits the brain by helping in nerve regeneration. This way, it maintains healthy functioning of the nervous system. Due to this, ALA has become a topic of interest for scientists to know about its effects on patients with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Since ALA is beneficial in removing toxic materials from the body, ALA protects the body, especially the liver, from metal contaminants found in foods and environment. Alpha lipoic acid supplements protect the liver from metal, mushroom and other poisonings. It inactivates the poisonous metals so that they can be easily flushed out of the body.
ALA benefits the skin by maintaining its moisture, reduces the chances of getting premature ageing symptoms, and keeps the skin soft and supple.
ALA is not just another antioxidant. Its wide range of benefits for human health makes it one of the most potent antioxidant supplements available in the market. It is available in the form of alpha lipoic acid tablets, capsules, cream, softgels, etc.