Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA)


Peer Reviewed

Antioxidant Word Cloud

Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is an antioxidant produced by the body that helps neutralize the effects of free radicals on the body. ALA enhances the antioxidant functions of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and glutathione (an enzyme key to preventing the breakdown of red blood cells resulting in anemia). Plus, ALA assists two important enzymes that are responsible for converting food into energy.

Free radicals are waste products the body creates when food is turned into energy. The body can use some free radicals, but too many can reduce immunity needed to fight infection, cancer, and heart disease. Free radicals are everywhere in our environment, such as car exhaust, radiation, and ultraviolet rays. Alpha-lipoic acid can help the body in the constant fight against the toxic effects of free radicals.

A few of the benefits from ALA may include:

  • Reducing blood cholesterol levels
  • Efficiently removing sugar (glucose) from the blood
  • Assisting the liver to eliminate toxins
  • Blocking cataract formation
  • Decreasing the toxic effects from some drugs used to treat pain.

Some people with diabetes have found alpha-lipoic acid may reduce symptoms associated with nerve damage (eg, pain, burning, numbness). When used with carnitine (an amino acid, protein), ALA may provide an anti-aging effect.

Alpha-lipoic acid has the ability to protect and pass into the brain and nerve tissues. This is because ALA is both water and fat-soluble

Sources of Alpha-Lipoic Acid
Yeast, beef, spinach, broccoli, and kidney are good sources. Alpha-lipoic acid is also available in capsule and tablet form in dosages ranging from 30-mg to 100-mg.

Guidelines and Cautions
A recommended daily dose has not been established, although most labeling indicates 50-mg to 100-mg per day as a dietary supplement.

Always consult a medical professional before taking alpha-lipoic acid, especially if any of the following conditions exist:

  • Pregnant or breast-feeding
  • Diabetes
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Hepatitis

Disclaimer: Many people report feeling improvement in their condition and/or general well-being taking dietary, vitamin, mineral, and/or herbal supplements. The Editorial Board of, however, cannot endorse such products since most lack peer-reviewed scientific validation of their claims. In most cases an appropriate diet and a "multiple vitamin" will provide the necessary dietary supplements for most individuals. Prior to taking additional dietary, vitamin, mineral, and/or herbal supplements it is recommended that patients consult with their personal physician to discuss their specific supplement requirements.

Updated on: 03/15/16
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Vincent Traynelis, MD
Although many patient's describe improvement in their condition after taking one of the supplements previously described, the Editorial Board is unable to endorse these supplements, as there is insufficient peer reviewed research available. Hopefully the role of these compounds will be better understood once more scientific research is compiled.
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