If you haven’t heard about superior effects of alpha lipoic acid so far, now is the time. Alpha lipoic acid is an organic compound that also has a sulfur molecule in its structure. The human body has the ability to synthesize alpha lipoic acid at the level of mitochondria, so it belongs to the group of so-called non-essential nutrients, although due to individual effects it has in the body, it could be said that it resembles vitamins.
Alpha lipoic acid is synthesized in the body in small quantities, so in a large percentage of the population it is below the optimal level, furthermore its levels in the body decreases with age. Therefore, the body is supplied with an adequate amount of alpha lipoic acid through diet and proper supplementation.
THE ROLE OF ALPHA LIPOIC ACID IN THE ORGANISM
Antioxidant effect – protecting the cells from the oxidative stress
Free radicals are chemical substances that are normally formed in metabolic processes in the body. If the production of free radicals exceeds antioxidant protection, oxidative stress occurs, ie. cells and tissues get damaged by free radicals.
Alpha lipoic acid is an ideal antioxidant because it possesses the ability to neutralize different types of free radicals in both hydrophilic and lipophilic environments. That basically means that alpha lipoic acid has an antioxidant effect inside cells and tissues, but also in the intercellular space.
And that’s not all…
Besides the ability to neutralize free radicals, alpha lipoic acid has the ability to regenerate other antioxidants. In order to neutralize free radicals, other vitamins such as vitamin C, have to release one free electron. By releasing electrons vitamin turns into an oxidized form that has no antioxidant activity.
In order for this Vitamin C molecule to function again as an antioxidant, it must go into a reduced form by taking over electrons. For this process of reactivating, vitamin C needs other antioxidants. Vitamins C and E, as well as glutathione, are the most relevant antioxidants to protect the body from oxidative stress and can be recycled from oxidized to reduced form. Due to its ability to regenerate these vitamins, alpha lipoic acid is essential in the fight against oxidative stress.
Contributes to normal glucose metabolism
A large number of clinical studies have followed the effect alpha lipoic acid has on glucose metabolism. Alpha lipoic acid is an important factor that influences the metabolic process of glucose conversion into energy. It has been shown that it contributes to reducing of insulin resistance by accelerating the uptake of glucose from the blood into muscle and fat tissue.
Apart from accelerating the uptake of glucose into muscle cells, alpha lipoic acid also has the effect on increasing glucose utilization by stimulating the enzyme complex involved in energy production at the cellular level. Also, it has been shown that the use of alpha lipoic acid reduces the risk of developing complications of diabetes mellitus. It has been clinically proven that the use of alpha lipoic acid decreases the progression and alleviates the symptoms of nerve damaging and reduces the risk of developing diabetic neuropathy and contributes to the reduction of pain in pre-existing diabetic neuropathy.
It contributes to the health of the nervous system and the maintenance of normal cognitive function
Aging is accompanied by increased production of oxidative stress in nervous system. Because of its intense metabolism, a higher production of free radicals occurs in neurons, which become very sensitive to antioxidant stress as the time passes by. It has been documented, that due its strong antioxidant anti- inflammatory effect , alpha lipoic acid plays a significant role in protecting nerve cells from oxidative stress and damage.
Clinical studies have shown a positive effect of alpha lipoic acid:
- On the conduction of nerve impulses and stimulation of signaling pathways related to the process of memory creation.
- Alpha lipoic acid reduces the progression of damage leading to memory loss as well as nerve damage.
- Alpha lipoic acid has been shown to reduce pain and other nervous sensations such as numbness and tingling sensations when nerves are damaged.
In addition to the strong antioxidant effect, it has been shown that alpha lipoic acid has an anti-inflammatory effect. Clinical studies present that alpha lipoic acid contributes to reducing the levels of certain substances that are formed during inflammation, such as CRP (C reactive protein) and IL6 (interleukin-6).
Alpha lipoic acid contribution to hearth and blood vessel health
Due to its strong antioxidant effect, alpha lipoic acid contributes to the reduction of oxidative stress levels, which is associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Moreover, it has been proven that alpha lipoic acid has a positive effect on the function and elasticity of blood vessel endothelium, but as recent studies suggest, it also has a positive effect on the regulation of blood triglyceride and cholesterol levels.