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Alpha Lipoic Acid: A powerful antioxidant that brings well-being

Alpha Lipoic Acid: A powerful antioxidant that brings well-being

Published: 10 June, 2024 | 3'

In the world of health and wellness, alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) has become a prominent player. This powerful antioxidant, naturally present in some foods and available as a supplement, has generated great interest for its beneficial effects on our body.

What is Alpha-Lipoic Acid and where is it found?

Alpha-lipoic acid (also known as ALA or thioctic acid) was discovered in 1951 within the content of human cells as a key part of the energy metabolism process (within the Krebs cycle).

It is a non-essential fatty acid with a well-defined structure characterized by having two optical forms (like looking at yourself in a mirror), the R form - right image - and the S form - left image-. The R form of ALA is the one found naturally in our body.

The Antioxidant Power of Alpha-Lipoic Acid

The metabolic processes in our body that generate the necessary energy for its functioning (such as wound healing and respiration) come from oxidation reactions that are normally well-regulated (REDOX system).

When there is any imbalance in the so-called cellular REDOX system, excessive oxidation is promoted, negatively affecting the cellular structure and triggering cytotoxic effects (which can lead to cell death), proinflammatory mediators, and as a result, severe inflammation. This state is referred to as oxidative stress.

What does the term antioxidant mean? It includes all substances capable of delaying or stopping oxidation processes mediated by oxidative free radicals.

ALA is an antioxidant substance that naturally exerts its activity in all cells of our body, taking into account that:

  • Its antioxidant power works in both aqueous and lipid environments, allowing it to be evenly distributed and act in all cells of our organism.
  • It can be produced by cells (specifically in very small organelles called mitochondria) and be obtained from food in its R form.
  • Its antioxidant effectiveness can be exerted in both its oxidized and reduced forms. The oxidized form contains more oxygen than the reduced form; the presence of oxygen determines the antioxidant potential.
  • Alpha-lipoic acid increases intracellular levels of other antioxidants such as glutathione and coenzyme Q10, and it is capable of directly regenerating oxidized forms of vitamin C and indirectly that of vitamin E.

Utility of Alpha-Lipoic Acid

We have seen that ALA is involved in energy metabolism and the REDOX system, which gives it properties that contribute to the well-being of our body. Let's look at some of them:

Cardiovascular System

Alpha-lipoic acid helps maintain the function of blood vessels by optimizing energy production in vascular cells and promoting the correct structure of vascular tissue through its direct antioxidant action. These properties are also replicated in the nervous system, especially in peripheral nerves.

Energy Metabolism

ALA participates in the processes that metabolize proteins and carbohydrates, as well as in the regulation of fatty acid oxidation. These actions are relevant for maintaining a balance between energy intake and expenditure, which can support weight management.

Foods that Contain Alpha-Lipoic Acid

Alpha-Lipoic Acid

Alpha-lipoic acid is found in both plant-based and animal-based foods. So, you can find it in red meats (heart, kidneys, liver), carrots, beets, spinach, broccoli, sweet potatoes, potatoes, brewer's yeast, and wheat germ.

How to Use Alpha-Lipoic Acid

Alpha-lipoic acid can be taken as a supplement alongside a balanced diet, specifically through food supplements that contain the R form. The recommended daily intake is usually 600 mg once a day.

It is also suggested to preferably take ALA in the morning before breakfast and evaluate the results after three months. If necessary, continue the intake. If you have any doubts, consult your doctor or healthcare professional.

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Content reviewed by specialists from the MARNYS Scientific Information area. This article is informative and does not replace the consultation with a specialist.