Antioxidant Highlight: Alpha Lipoic Acid

Antioxidant Powerhouse


While alpha lipoic acid (ALA) may not be the first thing you think of when you hear the term antioxidant, it may be one that is worth your attention. Anyone interested in health has heard of antioxidants and their power to eradicate oxidative damage, boost and immunity and protect the body from disease. Both a fatty acid and a coenzyme, alpha lipoic acid packs a powerful punch in a very unique way. While most antioxidants are either fat-soluble or water-soluble, alpha-lipoic acid is both. That means, in a sense, that it’s capable of double-duty when it comes to maintaining your health. Found in the cells of the body, ALA is especially important if you have any issues with blood sugar metabolism because it is involved in the process of turning glucose (sugar) into energy. Put simply, alpha lipoic acid can help your body process carbohydrates more efficiently.

Alpha lipoic acid and blood sugar metabolism

I don’t take a ton of supplements, but I do take this one. I learned about it while researching ways to lower my blood sugar, which, though still in the range that’s considered normal, began to creep up in the years after my fortieth birthday. It’s not unusual for carbohydrate tolerance to decline with age, but I wanted to find some tools for keeping things in check. What I found out about ALA is impressive. In Germany, alpha lipoic acid is used regularly to treat neuropathy, nerve damage that develops when blood sugar levels remain very high over a long period of time. ALA may also help to minimize the damage that excess blood sugar can do to the heart, kidneys and blood vessels, and it appears to be useful in treating numbness and tingling in the extremities as well. But you don’t need to wait until you’re suffering from complications of diabetes to benefit from this nutrient.

Should you take ALA supplements?

You can get alpha lipoic acid from foods like liver, spinach and other meats and vegetables, but many people do not eat enough of these foods. If you do, that’s great. If not, doctors like integrative medicine guru Andrew Weil recommend taking a supplement to help maximize the benefits of ALA. You can take alpha lipoic acid in capsule or tablet form in doses of 100 to 200 mg twice per day. According to Dr. Weil, ALA supplements are very safe, but some people, such as pregnant women and those with certain medical conditions (including diabetes) should consult their medical provider before taking supplements.

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