I was really excited to learn about the benefits of Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA)  – particularly that it is very effective for weight loss, reduce wrinkles, is overall anti-aging, and very beneficial for glowing skin. Its an antioxidant with a host of other important health benefits as well.

“This antioxidant reduces inflammation and can help you lose weight. In a 2011 study published in The American Journal of Medicine, obese people who were told to reduce their food intake prior to the study by 600 calories a day and who took 1,800 milligrams of alpha lipoic acid daily for 20 weeks lost significantly more weight—up to 5 percent of their total body weight—than did a placebo group.” – Source

Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) may also help slow down the aging process itself through its reduction in free radicals (anti-aging).

It has very beneficial, anti-aging effects on the skin, and may prevent and reduce wrinkles.

Alpha Lipoic Acid Can Help Your Workout. Alpha lipoic acid can be a potent aid when you exercise vigorously.

As a dietary supplement, alpha-lipoic acid appears to help increase insulin sensitivity, and may be especially useful in addressing metabolic syndrome. In addition, ALA works with other antioxidants to help neutralize free radicals and reduce cellular damage. It also acts as a synergist with B vitamins to help in the production of energy from the proteins, carbohydrates and fats consumed through foods. Researchers have investigated the use of alpha-lipoic acid in the treatment of diabetic neuropathy, liver ailments and glaucoma. It may improve memory via its protective effects on brain and Alpha-lipoic acid (also known as ALA) is a synthetic version of lipoic acid, a naturally occurring compound produced in the body and synthesized by both plants and animals. This antioxidant is vital to cellular energy production, and helps to neutralize the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are chemical byproducts produced during the process of oxidation that converts nutrients to cellular energy. As they oxidize, these compounds can become highly reactive and harmful to the cell, distorting its vital components and reducing its metabolic efficiency. While the body can naturally manufacture enough lipoic acid for metabolic functions, supplementing can allow more optimal levels to circulate in a free state.” – Source: Dr Andrew Weil

This is what Dr Mercola says about ALA: The Benefits of Alpha Lipoic Acid

Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) has many functions, but it’s one of the most effective free radical scavengers, and the only one known to easily get into your brain. It also has the ability to regenerate other antioxidants such as vitamins C, E, and glutathione. So, when your body has used up these antioxidants, if there’s ALA around, it helps regenerate them.  You may not know this, but glutathione is another very important antioxidant. You can get it from supplements, but the only form that works effectively is the reduced form, which is difficult to absorb when taken orally. It is much more cost effective to supplement with precursors, or items like alpha lipoic acid that regenerates glutathione. Alpha lipoic acid also recycles coenzyme Q10 and NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide).  

But, if that wasn’t enough, this powerful antioxidant ALA  also: 

  • Reduces inflammation
  • Is a potent heavy metal chelator
  • enhances insulin sensitivity 

The benefits of ALA can appear near miraculous. For example, according to Dr. Berkson, Russia has successfully used ALA intravenously to reverse ischemia reperfusion injuries by injecting it right after a heart attack or a stroke.  And people with diabetes or metabolic syndrome tend to do much better when taking lipoic acid, as it enhances insulin sensitivity.   There’s even been quite a bit of research showing it can restore T cell function. T cells are a type of white blood cells that are of key importance to your immune system, and are at the core of adaptive immunity, the system that tailors your body’s immune response to specific pathogens. 

Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA) Dosage

Take anywhere from 1,200 to 1,800 milligrams a day, at least 30 minutes before meals.  Allow a minimum of 3 weeks for full effects to develop.

Update on my Experience with ALA

Update 04.02.2015 – I just read that  alpha-lipoic acid may lower levels of thyroid hormone T3.  In the comments for the article, someone stated that for years they have read that ALA actually has the opposite effect. Looks like I’ve got more research ahead of me in determining the real score.  I’ve done a bit of digging, and indeed, various sources indicate it may lower T3. Haven’t really found anything that states it is particularly beneficial for the thyroid.

In the last few days I’ve been feeling more and more fatigued and sluggish. Today my husband noticed that my thyroid is looking enlarged (again). Hadn’t been for a very long time. I did start taking ALA about a week and a half ago (on March 24) hoping it would help me lose weight and develop greater exercise endurance. At the same time I began a rebounding exercise routine for 30 minutes, 2 days in a row. By the 3rd day I was too fatigued to consider working out, and felt the same way ever since (so I haven’t been). Now I have to wonder if it was the ALA. If so, its a darn shame, because it seems like a terrific antioxidant with many other healthful effects I would have liked to have benefited from. I’ll cut out the ALA now, and we’ll see what happens with the fatigue, weakness, and enlarged thyroid.  This is a tricky one, because on the one hand, ALA is supposed to increase cellular energy, so I want to take it for this fatigue and weakness I’m experiencing. On the other hand, if indeed it can lower T3, this may be WHY I feel like the very cells of my body are being starved of energy. Only a thyroid panel would reveal whether my T3 is low (sort of…, but that’s a long and very different story…). So for now, I’ll play it safe, stop the Alpha Lipoic Acid, and see if things improve.

Update May 10, 2015

I did start feeling better after stopping the ALA and my thyroid returned to its normal appearance. I don’t know whether the ALA was really the cause of the above described symptoms, but I have stayed off of it just in case. I may try again at another time. If I get the same effects I’ll conclude it was the ALA, but for now, I need to be at the top of my game, so I won’t be experimenting with that for a while.

What so interesting about nutritional supplements is that we all have a wide range of very different conditions existing in our bodies. So not all supplements work for all people in the same way. Even a supplement that is widely known to produce many very healthy benefits in most people may not work for you due to other underlying conditions you may have. The only way to know is to try a particular supplement that seems promising and then gauge your own reaction to it. Sometimes you find a miracle that changes your life, or perhaps even saves it, as I have in many instances.

Tell Somebody!