What is Alpha-Lipoic Acid?
We often take care of our physical health — paying attention to what we eat, our level of physical activity, and overall sleep quality — but when it comes to brain health, do you take the same approach? It’s no secret that our age and as we do, our brain performance and health begin to decline.
Over the past few years, nootropics have increased in popularity, based on their to enhance performance levels while protecting neural health long-term. Alpha-lipoic acid is a fatty acid which is commonly taken based on these key benefits, helping to restore brain health.
Like many nootropics, alpha-lipoic acid is naturally found within the body. In fact, it is found within every human cell, playing a critical role within a number of bodily functions. Not only does is influence energy levels through the conversion of glucose, but it also promotes enhanced cognitive performance.
How Does Alpha-Lipoic Acid Work?
The effects of this supplement are mainly based on its ability to bind to proteins, supporting a range of mitochondrial enzymes. As mentioned, it influences the Krebs cycle — the process that turns carbohydrates into energy. Since alpha-lipoic acid is both fat and water soluble, it is easily absorbed and transported throughout the body.
From internal organs to muscle tissue, alpha-lipoic acid plays an essential role. Whether concentrations are high due to excess production or supplementation, increased levels result in an antioxidant effect. Acting as an antioxidant, it’s able to attack and neutralize free radicals that often lead to cellular damage and the development of disease.
Certain antioxidants are either water soluble or fat soluble — whereas alpha-lipoic acid is both. Meaning, it has the ability to work throughout the body, increasing overall benefits. Within your cells, this antioxidant is converted into dihydrolipoic acid, offering a protective effect.
What Can Alpha-Lipoic Acid Be Used For?
When taking a supplement, you want to know that you’re benefiting your health in some way. In this case, you can target a wide range of potential ailments, including:
Studies have shown that alpha-lipoic acid may help balance blood sugar levels. Of course, this is ideal for anyone suffering from diabetes or prediabetes, reducing their risk of complications. Based on its ability to kill free radicals, alpha-lipoic acid can also target neuropathy, potentially reducing symptoms such as pain, numbness, and burning.
Before type II diabetes develops, individuals generally suffer from what’s known as metabolic syndrome. When taking alpha-lipoic acid, it’s been found that individuals can reduce their blood pressure and insulin resistance, reducing their risk of diabetes and insulin sensitivity.
Once diabetes has already developed, alpha-lipoic acid can continue to improve symptoms. Among overweight adults suffering from type II diabetes, alpha-lipoic acid has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity in a matter of weeks. Not to mention a decrease in the problematic symptoms of diabetic neuropathy mentioned above.
Brain Health and Stroke
Since alpha-lipoic acid can pass through the blood-brain barrier, it is believed to protect nerve tissue in the brain itself. At this time, researchers are looking into its potential effect on stroke victims and other associated brain issues. Dementia, for instance, may be reduced by learning how to target key free radicals — but this research is still in its early stages.
With that being said, researchers have identified specific mechanisms of alpha-lipoic acid, which may help prevent or further manage symptoms of Alzheimer’s. They believe this is based on alpha-lipoic acid’s ability to increase acetylcholine production, a neurotransmitter that Alzheimer’s patients are deficient in.
When studied in animals, those who were given alpha-lipoic acid experienced a survival rate after stroke that has three times greater than those who did not. It’s believed that alpha-lipoic acid helps regenerate the antioxidant known as glutathione, which is generally depleted after events such as stroke.
When damage occurs in the brain, symptoms begin to arise. In order to protect yourself, supplementation can reduce the severity or even reverse certain symptoms. Whether you’re suffering from the effects of prior alcoholism or nutritional deficiencies, alpha-lipoic acid can potentially help, acting as a neuron protector.
Protects Eye Health
While focusing on visual health, alpha-lipoic acid may also protect your eyes. Due to the aging process, our eyes tend to develop cataracts, which lead to cloudy vision. Once again, oxidative stress plays a major role regarding cataract formation. Due to alpha-lipoic acid’s antioxidant properties, it may reduce one’s risk.
Another common issue as we age is glaucoma. Within one study, published in Vestn Oftalmol, when patients with open-angle glaucoma were given either 75 mg daily for two months or 150 mg daily for one month, visual function significantly improved in comparison to the control group.
From preventing migraines to maintaining healthy skin, alpha-lipoic acid offers a wide range of applications and use. When taken in a health-boosting stack, you can significantly reduce your risk of long-term health complications.
How to Take Alpha-Lipoic Acid
Although our bodies naturally produce alpha-lipoic acid, body levels decrease as we age. This increases your risk of significant free radical damage, leading to the issues discussed above. You can source small amounts from certain foods, such as spinach, collards, organ meats, and broccoli, recent research suggests a more potent form — which is offered through supplementation.
The typical dosage range for alpha-lipoic acid is between 200 and 600 mg daily — however, this will highly depend on the purpose of your use. As a general antioxidant, 50 to 100 mg daily will likely suffice. As always consult with your doctor before beginning adding to your routine.