Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is found in every cell of your body. It's an antioxidant that attacks free radicals — waste products from the body’s conversion of food into energy — that can cause illness and cell degeneration. It's also known as a metabolic antioxidant because in its absence, the cells of the body wouldn't be able to turn glucose into energy. ALA is a particularly versatile antioxidant because it is both fat- and water-soluble, allowing it to work in every part of your anatomy. Although a healthy body produces adequate amounts of ALA, the substance is also found in several foods.
According to Dr. Nicholas Perricone, author of The Wrinkle Cure, alpha lipoic acid specifically protects vitamins C and E and boosts their ability to fight free radicals in the body. In addition to combating aging, alpha lipoic acid has been shown to be effective for glaucoma, hypertension, heart disease, high cholesterol, hepatitis C, diabetes induced impotence and multiple sclerosis.
Here's a list of benefits of this universal antioxidant:
1. It's found in natural food sources.
Just as your body produces small amounts of ALA, so too do many other living organisms, including animals and plants, many of which are food sources. Sources of lipoic include: dark green leafy vegetables, including spinach and collard greens; broccoli; animal foods such as beef; and organ meats such as calf's liver.
2. It's a universal antioxidant.
Research shows that it is more potent than vitamins C, E, and Co-Q10. The antioxidant function of lipoic acid has been extensively studied, and its ability to help prevent oxygen-based damage to cells is well established. In combination with other elements that possess antioxidant properties, and thanks to its ability to be soluble in fat and water, it can travel to all the cells of the body to deactivate free radicals.
3. It promotes eye health.
The antioxidant role of lipoic acid may be the key factor in explaining its success in the prevention of cataract formation in animal studies. Glaucoma is a disease that damages the optic nerve and impairs vision. It's the second leading cause of blindness (after macular degeneration). Several studies have demonstrated that dietary modification and alpha lipoic acid supplementation can significantly lower intraocular eye pressure.
4. It's anti-inflammatory.
Systemic inflammation plays an important role in several diseases. Alpha lipoic acid has also been found to have significant benefits on inflammation due to its ability to down regulate pro-inflammatory cytokines. When free radicals disrupt the normal structure of proteins and the genetic information encoded in DNA, this damage results in the release of potent chemical messengers called cytokines. Cytokines trigger the inflammatory response in tissues, signaling immune and inflammatory cells to swarm the affected area.
5. It improves circulation.
Improved blood flow will strengthen the heart muscle and the arteries, helping to prevent and treat heart disease. Alpha lipoic acid benefits patients with hypertension, because it helps improve blood flow and circulation by cranking up the production of enzymes that act as free radical prohibitors. Studies have shown that due to its unique ability to improve antioxidant protection within our body, it may prevent myocardial infarction and DNA damage. Besides protecting the heart muscle, it may even improve recovery rate and regeneration of the heart muscle after heart attacks.
People from all walks of life are subjected to free radicals that accumulate within their bodies. Over time, this buildup of harmful elements can cause damage to the cells, which can gradually lead to the development of severe diseases such as cancer, heart disorder, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's disease. But you may still prevent these risks with the help of powerful antioxidants such as alpha lipoic acid. So let’s get on the ball and fight those free radicals!