ALA information, FAQ and product listing page. This page contains everything you need to know about ALA and ALA supplements.
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Scientists discovered the importance of alpha-lipoic acid in the 1950s, and recognized it as a powerful antioxidant in 1988. The body needs alpha-lipoic acid to produce energy. It plays a crucial role in the energy-producing structures in cells.
The body actually makes enough alpha-lipoic acid for this basic function. Alpha-lipoic acid acts as an antioxidant, however, only when there is an excess of it and it is in the "free" state in the cells. There is little free alpha-lipoic acid circulating in your body, unless you consume supplements or get it injected. Alpha-lipoic acid is a versatile antioxidant—it helps deactivate an unusually wide array of cell-damaging free radicals in many bodily systems.
ALA helps our bodies collect energy and nutrients from the food we eat. Without ALA, our bodies would not be able to produce energy. It also plays a vital role in the process of mitochondria, which is the energy producing structure found in cells. Our bodies make enough ALA for these basic metabolic functions. However, when ALA is found in excess in our bodies it acts like an antioxidant. This is only when supplements are consumed or it is injected, as food contains only minute amounts. When ALA acts as an antioxidant, it helps find and destroy a large amount of cell-damaging free radicals that can harm the body.
ALA can be obtained through our diet by consuming meats and vegetables. The foods that contain the highest amounts of ALA are spinach, beef kidneys, beef hearts, and broccoli. ALA is easily absorbed by the bloodstream and can also cross into the blood brain barrier. Smaller amounts of ALA can be found in peas, brussel sprouts, and rice bran.
Alpha-lipoic acid is said to prevent or treat many age-related diseases, from heart disease, and stroke to diabetes and Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as declines in energy, muscle strength, brain function, and immunity. Alpha-lipoic acid is also being studied for HIV disease and multiple sclerosis.
ALA also increases intracellular glutathione levels. Glutathione is an important water-soluble antioxidant that is synthesized from the sulfur-containing amino acid cysteine. The availability of cysteine inside a cell determines its rate of glutathione synthesis.
ALA from supplements is rapidly absorbed, rapidly metabolized, and rapidly cleared from plasma and tissues, suggesting that it should be taken in divided doses throughout the day, rather than in a single daily dose. Recommendations for the use of ALA as an antioxidant can range from 50 mg/day to 400 mg/day.
There have been no reported, or documented side effects from ALA. Extreme doses may cause an upset stomach. No studies have been conducted into the effects of supplementing with ALA over prolonged periods.