Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is not a supplement that is well known but it does have some very interesting properties and the risk of side effects (if you take reasonable doses) is very low. I learned about ALA from Tim Ferris while reading the four hour body and how he used it to help put more of the calories from the food he eats into muscles instead of fat cells. I personally have used it for that purpose but also to fight off alcohol hangovers or damage from other drugs such as MDMA according to this study. It is naturally found in foods such as vegetables but in very small quantities so if you really want to take advantage of it you need to supplement.
Beyond its more advanced usage for fat loss/muscle gains & lowering blood sugar, it is a potent antioxidant that can help fight off hangovers and a large variety of health problems.
ALA is an antioxidant which is a substance that supports protecting cells and your DNA from the damage done by free radicals due to oxidation reactions which is why we hear so often about antioxidants, a LOT of natural foods (especially vegetables and fruits) contain other forms of antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E which are well known (and relevant to this post, ALA has the ability to “renew and put back to work” vitamin C & E making them even more useful). This is most likely the reason ALA can be useful to fight off damage form alcohol or other drugs. When antioxidants are not available, free radicals cause oxidation and this reaction is one of the processes that cause a lot of problems in our body, including accelerating aging or making your skin look older.
Alpha Lipoic Acid Usage & Benefits
Alpha lipoic acid can be used to treat a variety of health related problems. It is used to prevent inflammation due to multiple sclerosis. There is a study that shows that alpha lipoic acid supplement helps patients with type 2 diabetes by enhancing the body’s ability to use its own insulin to lower the level of blood sugar. This is one of the key reasons that when it comes to putting on muscle weight and less fat while overeating I use it as part of my training regimen to get 25 pounds in 2 months.
It helps with nerve damage caused by cancer or diabetes treatment by reducing the nerve-related symptoms of diabetes like pain, burning, tingling, and prickling in the legs and arms.
Some people use an alpha lipoic acid supplement for chronic fatigue syndrome, memory loss, cancer, liver disease, lyme disease and diseases of the heart. It also is used to protect against eye related problem such as damage to cataracts, retina, glaucoma and Wilson’s disease, most likely due to how it helps renew vitamin C & E in the body.
A study was conducted to 33 women with an average age of 54 years old found that after 3 months of applying a cream containing 5% lipoic acid, their skin roughness was reduced and the appearance of photo-aging has decreased.
Quick list of Alpha lipoic acid benefits
According to Nutraceutical Update by Mark A. Mitchell, M.D. (which I took from this post), based on the studies and evidences gathered, lipoic acid offers the following health benefits:
- Helps prevents retinal cell death when combined with vitamin E in retinitis pigmentosa