What is Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)?
Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is an antioxidant produced in the body. It is also found in miniscule amounts in organ meat, fruits and vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, tomato, garden pea, brussel sprouts and rice bran.
Everyday, our body is subjected to free radical assault due to factors ranging from stress, poor diet, physical exercise to pollution. Free radicals damage cells and tissues in the body, impair immune function and cause diseases. Antioxidants work by fighting free radicals and minimise its associated damages.
Unique Properties of Alpha Lipoic Acid
1. Soluble in both water and fat
Most antioxidants either work in water or fat only. Alpha lipoic acid is soluble in both water and fat. Consequently, it is able to neutralise damaging free radicals in all cells throughout the body.
2. Recycle other antioxidants
In addition to being a powerful antioxidant, ALA is able to recycle and regenerate other antioxidants such as vitamin E, C, glutathione and coenzyme Q10. Antioxidants can be oxidated and depleted as they fight free radicals. Alpha lipoic acid has the ability to regenerate antioxidants and strengthen their protective effects.
Glutathione is an important antioxidant that is poorly absorbed when taken orally. Fortunately, supplementing with alpha lipoic acid can increase glutathione production in the body.
3. Increase insulin sensitivity
Besides its antioxidant properties, ALA enhances insulin sensitivity and regulates blood sugar levels.
Health Benefits of Alpha Lipoic Acid
The most promising therapeutic uses of ALA is for treating diabetes and diabetic neuropathy.
In addition, ALA may:
- slow progression of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease
- protect against heart disease
- improve ageing skin
- slow the progression of neurodenegerative conditions such as Parkinson’s disease
Alpha Lipoic Acid Supplements – Are They All The Same?
There are 2 forms of ALA:
- R-ALA: a natural ALA with high bioavailability to cells and tissues
- S-ALA: a synthetic form of ALA
Your body can synthesise and absorb R-ALA more easily than S-ALA. Hence, R-ALA is more potent than S-ALA.
Most ALA supplements are a 50/50 blend of R-ALA and S-ALA. While cheaper, they are not as effective and beneficial as R-ALA only supplements. Always read the label to ensure that you are getting pure, natural R-ALA.