Alpha Lipoic Acid - The Antioxidant your Brain Loves
Free radicals are waste products that can cause cell-damaging reactions within the body. In their fight against free radicals, many of the body’s antioxidants are used up. Evidence indicates that alpha-lipoic acid – an important antioxidant - can help rekindle and reactivate other antioxidants like glutathione (which helps rid the body of harmful substances) and vitamin C.
Produced by the body and found in all body cells, alpha-lipoic acid has many important functions. While some antioxidants work solely in fat tissue or in water, alpha-lipoic acid is both fat and water soluble.
The blood brain barrier is a semi-permeable wall of tiny blood vessels and cells that allows certain substances to cross but prohibits others. Because of its unique qualities, alpha-lipoic acid can easily cross the blood-brain barrier, which may help protect delicate nerve and brain tissue.
This could be beneficial in circumstances of injury and resulting damage to the brain. Alpha-lipoic acid is also currently being investigated as a possible treatment for many health issues affecting the brain like dementia and stroke.
Oxidative stress and weakened antioxidant defenses are common symptoms in cases of arsenic toxicity. A study in 2005 examined whether alpha-lipoic acid could have an effect on the antioxidant defense systems in the brains of rats fed arsenic on a daily basis. The scientists examined the cortex, hypothalamus, striatum, cerebellum, hippocampus and also more discrete areas of the brains.
The rats were administered arsenic along with a dosage of alpha-lipoic acid once daily for 60 days. Results showed that deficits in antioxidant production and a rise in oxidation due to the ingestion of arsenic could be surmounted in rats when simultaneously treated with alpha-lipoic acid.
In addition to apparent brain support, alpha lipoic acid helps convert glucose into energy which supports the maintenance of healthy blood sugar levels. It may also help diabetics with peripheral neuropathy, and it is being investigated in the treatment of glaucoma.
A number of experimental and clinical studies have shown the efficacy of treatment with medicines containing alpha-lipoic acid for diseases that affect antioxidant levels. In addition to diabetes, these include neurodegenerative diseases and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).
Positive results from an increasing number of studies make many wonder if alpha-lipoic acid is the miracle drug of the future. More research is needed to know for sure, but it might be wise to try a daily supplement of this powerful antioxidant.
While a health care provider can administer alpha-lipoic acid in the form of an injection, it can also be taken in capsules. These can be found through natural supplement websites. Here are recommended daily dosages:
- For general health improvement: 20 – 50 mg per day
- For improvement with diabetes and diabetic neuropathy: 400 mg twice daily