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Why ALA is a Choice Antioxidant

Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is an antioxidant that helps turn glucose into energy.

We love science around here, but science is only helpful if you understand it. So, let’s break the geek stuff down into information that is super easy to understand.

First, let’s talk about antioxidants.

Think of antioxidants as rust-inhibitors inside your body. Obviously your body doesn’t truly rust, but it’s a good mental picture for a similar process of damage that happens.

When you eat, your body goes through several mechanical and chemical steps to digest your food. As a result, there are some waste products created.

Those waste products are called free radicals, and you can think of them like rust-causers. Lots of other things cause free radicals, too, but since you have to eat to live, you’re going to have some free radicals no matter what you do.

Why are antioxidants and free radicals important?

If you have way more free radicals than you do antioxidants, your body will break down and be damaged faster. Essentially, it ages faster.

It would be like leaving your car parked on an ocean beach where salt-water would cause rust to form much faster than if it were safely in your garage or an environment without so much salt.

Now, you could significantly slow down the process by making sure to use rust-inhibiting products to compliment the rust-protection the factory gave your car, but you’d probably run out of them and have to restock regularly.

Your body is like that, too. Although your body makes ALA, there are times when other conditions cause you to need more antioxidants.

Why ALA

ALA isn’t the only antioxidant, but there are three things that make it a good choice when it comes to supplementing:

  1. It is both fat and water soluble – it works everywhere in your body while other antioxidants can only work in water or fatty tissues
  2. It can help regenerate other antioxidants and make them active again, so it’s like a two-for-one deal
  3. It helps your body convert glucose to energy which can help lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity (decreasing your risk for diabetes) – it’s like upgrading your fuel quality and protecting your engine and electrical system every time you apply rust-inhibitor.

Can you avoid free radicals?

Free radicals (the rust-causers in our above example) are caused by digestion, toxins, pesticides, air pollution, etc., so even if you eat high quality foods, you’re going to have them.

The more you’re around smoke, chemicals, pesticides (think bug control in your office and lawn services in your neighborhood), the more free radicals you’ll produce.

You get some antioxidants from whole vegetables and fruit, but ALA is very minimal in most foods. So if you want more, you have to supplement.

Are there other benefits to supplementing with ALA?

Yes! Alpha lipoic acid:

  1. Lowers oxidative stress (1)
  2. Protects against free radical damage
  3. Decrease left ventricular hypertrophy (thickening of the heart muscle) (2)
  4. Improves insulin sensitivity and lowers blood sugar (3)
  5. Chelates metals (4)
  6. Improved endothelial function (5)
  7. Lowers blood pressure (6)
  8. Decreased dementia risk (7)
  9. Improves the lipid profile (8)
  10. Activates AMPK, Nrf2, and SIRT1 while inhibiting NF-KB

How much do you need?

Start with 75mg 2x each day. Increase as needed based on testing. Our choice for ALA levels is the Genova NutrEval. 

Sources:

1) Vidovic B. Psychiatr Danub. 2014 Sep;26(3):205-13

2) Zhang L. Eur J Pharmacol. 2014 Sep 30

3) Yang Y.Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2014 Oct;35(10):1285-92

4) Ou P. Biochem Pharmacol. 1995 Jun 29; 50(1):123-6

5) Wray DW. Hypertension. 2012;59:818–824

6) Vasdev S. J Hypertens. 2000 May; 18(5):567-73

7) Moreira PL. J Alzheimers Dis. 2007 Sep; 12(2):195-206

8) Chen WL. Diabetologia. 2012; 55: 1824–1835

 

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