What is Alpha-Lipoic Acid?
Alpha-Lipoic Acid is a compound that is made naturally in animals and necessary for aerobic metabolism. It can be found in foods like liver, yeast, spinach, kidney and broccoli, albeit in trace amounts. It can also be synthesized and it is generally this that is typically used as supplements.
In the US alpha-lipoic acid is commonly referred to as an antioxidant, however in Japan it is marketed as a weight loss and energy supplement. The reasons why will be discussed later.
Aliases of Alpha-Lipoic Acid:
- Acetate Replacing Factor
- A-Lipoic Acid
- Alpha-Lipoic Acid Extract
- Lipoic Acid
- R-Alpha-Lipoic Acid R
- S-Alpha Lipoic Acid
- (R)-Lipoic Acid
- R-Lipoic Acid
- RS-Alpha-Lipoic Acid Thioctacid
- Thioctic Acid
- dithiooctanoic acid
- thioctic acid
- valeric acid
What does Alpha-Lipoic Acid do?
It’s marketed within the US as an antioxidant implying that it has cancer fighting properties, though this has never been proven. In Germany it has been used to treat diabetes and nerve related symptoms of diabetes including but not limited to leg and limb pain. As mentioned, in Japan it is used as a weight loss and energy supplement
ALA has been used to treat liver disease since the 1970’s.
It is believed that ALA can reduce memory loss, eye related disorders, fatigue (including CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome)), as well as liver and diseases of the heart and blood.
Alpha-lipoic acid purportedly works to prevent certain types of cell damage in the body. Another aspect of ALA is that it restores vitamin E and C levels while improving the conduction of neurons in diabetes.
Like EgCG in green tea extract, ALA recruits GLUT-4 glucose transports to the muscular cell membrane. What this means to us is that more energy is going to muscles instead of being stored as fat, and that’s a good thing. What’s even better is that it helps stimulate skeletal muscle tissue growth which is the strongest kind of muscle. Skeletal muscle you don’t see typically, but it’s the reason a 150 pound “weakingly” can sometimes beat a 200 pound body builder.
There are many WebMD reviews around alpha-lipoic acid, the general use will likely be the most interesting for non-diabetic people.
Alpha-Lipoic Acid for Weight Loss and Control
Tim Ferriss in the “4-Hour Body, An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman” references alpha-lipoic acid as one of the four “horsemen” of fat loss. Tim tells us that ALA helps store carbohydrates in muscle tissue instead of into fat. Skeletal muscle is the strongest type of muscle and ALA is supposed to help with that.
Jump over to the article on PAGG for more information about how to go from geek to freak.
Are there Any Side Effects?
Since there are so many unique humans there are bound to be a few…variances in results. Due to our unique chemical make up, allergies, genetics, diet, drugs we’re taking and any number of other variables, there are bound to be those that experience negative “effects”.
With alpha-lipoic acid, some people have reported:
- headache – because there aren’t enough causes of those in the world
- tingling (pins and needles) – you know, like when you lay on your arm and it “falls asleep”
- skin rash – very unsightly, and in my opinion should only be allowed on babies
- muscle cramps – some reports imply that exercise helps these…of course, exercise can lead to other kinds of muscle pain
I’m poking fun with the side effects, but seriously, it is very important that if you have any reason at all to believe you might be at risk with ANY supplement or medicine, natural or not then seek medical advice. If you ever notice the more serious things whether in the list above or not, seek medical attention!
R-Alpha Lipoic Acid
Both of the products below are as pure as you can really get, they both target R-apha lipoic acid (the good stuff).
R-alpha lipoic acid (R-ALA) assists with insulin control and so has been known with many diabetes related issues including limb pain. The problem is typically that it can be hard on your stomach.
Since this product is “stabalized” it means that it is less likely to polymerize in heat, on the shelf, and in your stomach. This controlled release mechanism allows the good stuff to get to where it needs to go to be absorbed by your system instead of upsetting your stomach.
Just as important, it does not contain a bunch of filler is a truer and more pure product.
This is another product that is a very pure product and contains the right dosage we’re looking for. It is free of synthetic s-lipoid acid found in other products and it’s free from fillers like rice flour (just like the product above).
The one thing that is not quite as nice about this product than the other is that it MAY be a little harder on some people’s stomachs. If you try it and it is let me know by commenting below and move onto the other product.