What is Lipoic acid?
Lipoic Acid is commonly found in many foods, including spinach, broccoli, and yeast extract. It can also be found in the human body, primarily in the kidney, heart, and liver.
Although it is naturally-occurring in plants and animals, it is typically absorbed to a very small degree in western diets. Lipoic Acid has an essential role to play in our organs: it assists with cellular metabolism and acts as an antioxidant.
It is actually more effective than the antioxidant vitamins C and E, as C only functions in water and E only functions in fat. Lipoic Acid is unique in its ability to function in both.
Cellular metabolic processes provide energy to the body, and help break down the chemicals and nutrients in our diets, including carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and alcohols.
The antioxidant effects of Lipoic Acid include protecting the brain and other sensitive organs from the damage caused by free radicals. While there have not been conclusive human trials, Lipoic Acid effects might be helpful to the body when it is suffering from damage, injury, or disease.
Lipoic Acid is so necessary to the body, that Lipoic Acid deficiency has many negative effects. It is known that Lipoic Acid deficiency can manifest in many symptoms, and can be difficult to identify.
Generally deficiencies manifest similarly to general antioxidant deficiencies - weakened immune function, memory issues, and a decrease in muscle mass.
Lipoic acid health benefits
While these claims are not medically supported, studies suggest that Lipoic Acid may help to
- increase energy
- support anti-aging
- improve memory
- improve eye sight
- help to maintain a healthy blood pressure
- control blood sugar levels
- repare nerve damage
- prevent diseases
The different forms of Lipoic acid
Lipoic Acid supplements take the form of capsules, tablets and liquid supplements. Lipoic Acid supplements have also been found in the forms of topical cream and injections as well.
Lipoic Acid capsules are currently being marketed as antioxidants, as energy supplements or in some countries also as prescription drugs.
Lipoic acid is a powerful antioxidant
Antioxidants are reported as extremely important for the body, as they rid the body of harmful 'free radicals.
Free radicals are chemicals created by normal cell processes. As they break down, these chemicals can become harmful to cells, both reducing metabolism and damaging vital cell organs.
Antioxidants prevent this by attaching to these 'free radicals' and pulling them out of the body, sacrificing themselves to protect cell tissue. However, Lipoic Acid has been recorded as „regenerating“ other antioxidants that have been used in attacking these free radicals.
In situations of antioxidant scarcity, Lipoic Acid reportedly has the same function as other antioxidants in attacking free radicals.
As Lipoic Acid performs in both fat and water, it can strengthen cellular performance in both conditions. Unlike vitamins C and E, which only function in one or the other, Lipoic Acid has a broad spectrum as an antioxidant.
Lipoic acid protects the nervous system
Unlike other vitamins, Lipoic Acid can function in both fat and water, making it a perfect candidate for protection of brain tissue.
As Lipoic Acid can cross the blood brain barrier, it is one of the few antioxidants that prevents free radical damage from within the brain. It is also thought to help strengthen connection pathways between nerves, improving reaction time and sensitivity.
Lipoic acid and its role for anti-aging
All antioxidants are viewed as having anti-aging benefits. Free radicals destroy cell tissue, resulting in cellular death and leading to more rapid aging. By preventing cellular damage, intact cells reproduce for longer, contributing to overall health and wellness.
In addition, Lipoic Acid has been used with success in restoring damaged skin to its healthier form in topical application. While these benefits are visible on the exterior of a person, the real benefits come with the protection Lipoic Acid provides to the brain and other organs.
An animal model found that Lipoic Acid might help prevent hearing loss in the elderly. Another similar study hints at potential usage for treatment of glaucoma.
While there is not currently sufficient evidence to guarantee these claims, there are multiple reports of potential uses for improving the health and welfare of the elderly, and preventing damage to the body before it happens due to age.
Who may benefit from taking a Lipoic acid supplement?
Anyone suffering from the following conditions may benefit from taking a Lipoic Acid supplement:
- Alzheimer's Disease
- Parkinson's Disease
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Burning Mouth Syndrome
- Mitochondrial Disorders
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Memory Loss
- Wilson's Disease or glaucoma
- Loss of sight or cataracts
- Lyme Disease
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Acne and Rosacea
Does Lipoic acid have any side effects?
Lipoic Acid is generally considered safe for use as a topical cream, injection, or supplement, when taken as directed. Very rarely Lipoic Acid side effects can include headaches, tingling ('pins and needles') sensations, skin rashes, or in extreme cases, muscle cramps.
Lipoic acid interactions and combinations
Lipoic Acid side effects can include drug interactions, especially for people with a thiamine deficiency. If you have a thiamine deficiency, please be careful and talk to your doctor before taking Lipoic Acid.
Taking Lipoic Acid may interfere with the drugs used for treatment of thyroid conditions.
Lipoic acid dosage recommendations
Lipoic Acid dosages are generally found in supplement pill form. When used for diabetes, the Lipoic Acid dosage ranges from 100 to 200 mg, three times a day. In recent studies it was determined that several weeks of taking dosages were necessary for the full benefits to be apparent.
For healthy people looking for antioxidant supplements, Lipoic Acid dosage ranges from 20 to 100 mg daily. It was also found that using a 5% Lipoic Acid topical cream daily on sun damaged skin had positive results. It was suggested that a thin layer was applied in this case.
Why take a Lipoic acid supplement?
Studies suggest that Lipoic Acid may benefit to
- support weight loss
- boost energy
- increase immune system function
- support memory
- improve brain function
- help to maintain a healthy blood pressure
- decrease cholesterol
- lower blood sugar levels
Other names of Lipoic acid
α-Lipoic Acid, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Acetate Replacing Factor, Thioctic Acid, Biletan, Lipoicin, Thioctan