Lipoic acid is a fatty acid found naturally inside every cell in the body. It’s needed by the body to produce the energy for our body’s normal functions. Lipoic acid converts glucose (blood sugar) into energy. It sits at the end of a process called glycolysis, which our cells use to create energy from sugars and starches. This same spot also occurs at the beginning of the pathways we use to create energy from fats. The placement of lipoic acid at this critical juncture in energy metabolism helps explain its clinical use with conditions like diabetes, where processing of sugar is disrupted, and also with skeletal muscle dysfunction in which muscle cells are unable to produce energy from fats.
Regarded as a powerful antioxidant, lipoic acid is claimed to strengthen the effects of other antioxidants (such as vitamins C and E) and to regenerate antioxidants used up in the fight against free radicals. It has also been promoted to prevent or treat liver diseases, cataracts, and to reduce the risk of plaque formation in the arteries. Lipoic acid is an antioxidant that is promoted to protect the body against cancer and other diseases. An antioxidant is a compound that blocks the action of free radicals, activated oxygen molecules that can damage cells. Oxidation may also play a role in causing poor health as people age, and some researchers suggest that lipoic acid may be helpful in slowing the aging process.
Lipoic acid plays an important role in metabolism or the way that cells process chemicals in the body. Recent research has shown it is helpful in treating nerve damage in diabetics. It may have benefit for other conditions as well. There is no reliable scientific evidence at this time that lipoic acid prevents the development or spread of cancer. Its possible role as a complementary therapy to reduce the side effects of radiation therapy or chemotherapy is still unclear.
In 1937, scientists found certain bacteria contained a compound that was later characterized as lipoic acid. The antioxidant activity of lipoic acid has been known and studied since 1939. In 1957, lipoic acid was found in yeast extracts. At one time it was thought to be a vitamin (a substance the body needs but usually cannot make on its own), but it was later discovered that the body does make lipoic acid.
Functions and benefits of Lipoic acid
- Antioxidant, even 100 times stronger than vitamin C and E. Interacting with vitamins from group B, affect nervous cells with its neuroprotective activity.
- Intensify glycogen level in the liver what increase liver protective values.
- Used in diabetes complication treatment. Diabetic neuropathy is a disease where nerves endings are destroyed on a result of free radicals activity which are after-effect of high glucose level.
- Neuropathy manifests with limbs shaking and tingling and is cured by regular doses of lipoic acid.
- Lipoic acid strengthen nerves and improve its metabolism.
- Prevent cataract and protect brain and liver cells against free radicals and harmful substances.
- n a study completed at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, the effect of alpha lipoic acid on the progression of kidney cell damage and the course of diabetic nephropathy was evaluated in 84 patients with diabetes over 18 months. Thirty-five patients were treated with 600 mg alpha-lipoic acid per day. After 18 months of follow up, those on ALA had a slower progression of the disease than the control group as shown by a decrease in the amount of protein lost in urine.
- Other antioxidants work only in water (such as vitamin C) or fatty tissues (such as vitamin E), but alpha-lipoic acid is both fat- and water-soluble. That means it can work throughout the body.
- Lipoic acid is an antioxidant found in certain foods, including red meat, spinach, broccoli, brussel sprouts, potatoes, yams, carrots, beets, other green leafy vegetables like collard greens and Swiss chard and yeast. It is also made in small amounts in the human body.
- Lipoic acid can be obtained from foods, and the body also produces it naturally. As a person ages, his or her body produces less lipoic acid.
- Lipoic acid supplements are available in capsule form at health food stores, some drugstores, and online. For maximum absorption, the supplements should be taken on an empty stomach.
Because lipoic acid works so closely with many other antioxidant nutrients, deficiency symptoms for lipoic acid alone are difficult to pinpoint. Lipoic acid is required for the maintenance of vitamin C supplies, and symptoms of lipoic acid deficiency can imitate symptoms of vitamin C deficiency. These symptoms can include weakened immune function and increased susceptibility to colds and other infections. In research studies on animals, lipoic acid deficiency has been linked to problems with memory, decreased muscle mass, and failure to thrive (in young animals).