Alpha-lipoic acid is an organic compound found in all human cells. It’s made inside the mitochondrion — also known as the powerhouse of cells — where it helps enzymes turn nutrients into energy. What’s more, it has powerful antioxidant properties.
Alpha-lipoic acid is both water- and fat-soluble, which allows it to work in every cell or tissue in the body. Meanwhile, most other antioxidants are either water- or fat-soluble. For instance, vitamin C is water-soluble, while vitamin E is fat-soluble.
The antioxidant properties of alpha-lipoic acid have been linked to several benefits, including lower blood sugar levels, reduced inflammation, slowed skin aging, and improved nerve function.
Humans only produce alpha-lipoic acid in small amounts. Many turn to certain foods or supplements to optimize their intake.
Animal products like red meat and organ meats are great sources of alpha-lipoic acid, but plant foods like broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, and Brussels sprouts also contain it. That said, supplements can pack up to 1,000 times more alpha-lipoic acid than food sources.
Alpha-lipoic acid has been shown to reduce insulin resistance, improve blood sugar control, ease symptoms of nerve damage, and lower the risk of diabetic retinopathy.
Other Health Benefits:
-May Reduce Skin Aging
Research has shown that alpha-lipoic acid may help fight signs of skin aging. In one human study, scientists found that applying a cream containing alpha-lipoic acid to the skin reduced fine lines, wrinkles, and skin roughness with no side effects. When alpha-lipoic acid is applied to the skin, it incorporates itself into the skin’s inner layers and offers antioxidant protection against the sun’s harmful UV radiation.
Moreover, alpha-lipoic acid raises the levels of other antioxidants, such as glutathione, which help protect against skin damage and may reduce signs of aging.
-May slow memory loss
Memory loss is a common concern among older adults. It’s believed that damage from oxidative stress plays a critical role in memory loss. Because alpha-lipoic acid is a powerful antioxidant, studies have examined its ability to slow the progression of disorders characterized by memory loss, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Both human and lab studies suggest that alpha-lipoic acid slows the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by neutralizing free radicals and suppressing inflammation.
-Promotes healthy nerve function
Research has shown that alpha-lipoic acid promotes healthy nerve function. It’s been found to slow the progression of carpal tunnel syndrome in its early stages. This condition is characterized by numbness or tingling in the hand caused by a pinched nerve.
Moreover, taking alpha-lipoic acid before and after surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome has been shown to improve recovery outcomes. Studies have also discovered that alpha-lipoic acid may ease symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, which is nerve pain caused by uncontrolled diabetes.
Chronic inflammation is linked to several diseases, including cancer and diabetes. Alpha-lipoic acid has been shown to lower several markers of inflammation.
In an analysis of 11 studies, alpha-lipoic acid significantly lowered levels of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP) in adults with high levels of CRP.
-May lower heart disease risk factors
Heart disease is responsible for one in four deaths in America. Research from a combination of lab, animal, and human studies has shown that the antioxidant properties of alpha-lipoic acid may lower several heart disease risk factors.
First, antioxidant properties allow alpha-lipoic acid to neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative stress, which is linked to damage that can increase heart disease risk.
Second, it’s been shown to improve endothelial dysfunction — a condition in which blood vessels cannot dilate properly, which also raises the risks of heart attack and stroke.
Moreover, a review of studies found that taking an alpha-lipoic acid supplement lowered triglyceride and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in adults with metabolic disease.
Alpha-lipoic acid has strong antioxidant properties, which may reduce inflammation and skin aging, promote healthy nerve function, lower heart disease risk factors, and slow the progression of memory loss disorders.
Alpha-lipoic acid is also available as a supplement and can be found in Beauty Algorithm. Supplements can contain up to 1,000 times more alpha-lipoic acid than foods.