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Nutrient - Spotlight on Alpha Lipoic Acid

Alpha Lipoic Acid

By Debbie Paddington Dip ION

Alpha lipoic acid, also known as thioctic acid, is a sulphur-containing nutrient found in every cell in the body. Alpha lipoic acid is made in small amounts in the human body; however, as we age, the amount we produce declines.


Energy productionalpha lipoic acid aids in the conversion of carbohydrates into energy. This process takes place in special cellular compartments called the mitochondria. Mitochondria are literally the fuel cells within each and every cell of the body.

Antioxidant properties – an antioxidant is a compound that blocks the action of free radicals, which are activated oxygen molecules that can damage cells. Free-radical damage has been linked to a number of health conditions including heart disease, liver disease and cancer. Unlike other antioxidants, which work only in water, such as vitamin C, or fatty tissues, such as vitamin E, alpha lipoic acid is both fat- and water-soluble. This means it can work throughout the body, even in the DNA inside cells. Actually, it makes it a real ‘work-horse’ in the body! In addition, antioxidants are depleted as they attack free radicals, but evidence suggests alpha lipoic acid may help regenerate these other antioxidants, particularly vitamins A and C and glutathione, making them active again. Glutathione is an important antioxidant that also plays a role in the detoxification and elimination of potential carcinogen and toxins.

Good food sources of alpha lipoic acid include:

Red meat

Organ meats








Possible benefits

Blood sugar balance –research in diabetic patients has shown that alpha lipoic acid seems to positively impact on insulin sensitivity.

Brain functionalpha lipoic acid can pass easily into the brain, and it is thought to have protective effects on brain and nerve tissue by preventing free-radical damage. Preliminary evidence suggests that it might decrease the decline in cognitive function in patients with dementia.

Nerve function– it may help to support a healthy nervous system.

Ageing – the bonding of a protein or fat with excess sugar in the body is known as glycation and has been linked with the process of ageing. Free-radical damage is also associated with the changes that occur in our body as we age. Alpha lipoic acid may be able to reduce the process of glycation in tissues and help prevent free-radical damage, which means we can hold back the years for longer!

Anti-inflammatory propertiesalpha lipoic acid helps to modulate our inflammatory response.

Eye health– this important nutrient may help the health of the eyes by protecting them from free-radical damage.

Liver Healthalpha lipoic acid may help to protect the liver from free-radical damage 

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