I’ve written about the health benefits of lipoic acid in the past. But new research is showing how powerful this organic compound can be in multiple areas of your overall health and wellness.
Because of this I’ve decided to update my previous article with the current list of health benefits of lipoic acid.
Health Benefits of Lipoic Acid – Slowing Down the Aging Process
Sometimes referred to as alpha lipoic acid this vital “co-factor” for enzymatic reactions is critically important for optimizing energy conversion in your mitochondria.
Mitochondria are the energy factories of your cells. They play a huge role in the aging process. At least in theory.
First proposed in 1972 by Denman Harman, the mitochondrial theory on aging centers on accumulated damage to the DNA of mitochondria. This leads to increased free radical stress coupled with a decrease in cellular energy production.
Researchers have been working to delay mitochondrial aging through a variety of nutrients. One of those nutrients is lipoic acid and the following health benefits of lipoic acid have been noted:
- Lipoic acid helps to optimize mitochondria function and reverses cell aging.
- Lipoic acid may help to prevent cardiovascular disease, obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetic complications.
- Lipoic acid protects against nerve and brain cell damage.
Health Benefits of Lipoic Acid – Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, and Inflammation
One of the recent discoveries shows how lipoic acid enhances the effects of insulin. This benefits glucose metabolism by lowering blood sugar levels. Thus helping diabetics better control their blood glucose levels.
Lowered blood glucose levels have two potential benefits on cardiovascular health.
First, when you reduce blood glucose levels you reduce the potential for oxidative stress or damage to the endothelium, which lines all of your cardiovascular system.
Second, it reduces the potential for the pathological cross-linking of glucose and protein to form Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs). These AGEs have been shown to accelerate many of the aging processes, especially those associated with cardiovascular disease.
A meta-analysis of 18 studies showed that lipoic acid can have a profound anti-inflammatory benefit. Specifically, it is associated with a reduction in C-reactive protein. This is an important bio-marker associated with vascular inflammation.
Additionally two other inflammatory markers were reduced: tumor necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin-6. Both are produced by excessive fat tissue. And they contribute to chronic inflammation that has been associated with obesity.
Lipoic acid’s ability to suppress inflammatory cell-signaling molecules helps to protect the endothelium, which lines all of your cardiovascular system, from plaque formations.
It’s these plaque formations that lead to the disease process known as atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis results in the narrowing of the vascular opening, which leads to an increased risk for strokes and heart attacks.
Research also shows how lipoic acid lowers total cholesterol and LDL or bad cholesterol. Both of these actions help to reduce the size and number of potential atherosclerotic plaque formations.
Additionally, lipoic acid enhances the effectiveness of endothelial nitric oxide synthase or eNOS. That’s a long word for the enzyme that the endothelium uses to create nitric oxide – the master signaling molecule of your entire cardiovascular system.
Nitric oxide keeps blood platelet cells from sticking together to prevent strokes and heart attacks. Nitric oxide also relaxes the smooth muscle of the vascular wall to keep your blood pressure in a normal range. Thus, nitric oxide is the body’s natural pathway for the prevention of high blood pressure.
When you add it all up, lipoic acid’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and lipid-lowering capabilities make it an ideal nutritional supplement to help protect the endothelium while enhancing the endothelium’s ability to properly produce nitric oxide.
All of this results in helping to improve blood flow while reducing the risk for multiple health issues.
Health Benefits of Lipoic Acid – Neuropathy and Cognitive Function
Neuropathy is damage to nerves and can be a significant health issue for those with diabetes. In multiple human studies, several of the health benefits of lipoic acid have centered on improving the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy.
It does this by helping to increase the velocity of nerve impulses in peripheral nerves. In some studies nerve-signal velocities for both motor and sensory nerves were increased in 30 days.
This then had a positive effect in reducing the symptoms associated with neuropathy like muscle weakness, numbness, and pain.
In both human and lab studies the use of lipoic acid has helped to slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by helping to suppress inflammation and by preventing free radical damage.
Health Benefits of Lipoic Acid – How to Supplement Your Diet
The consumption of lipoic acid can occur naturally if we choose the right types of food.
If you’re looking for animal sources rich in lipoic acid then you need to choose those organs that are high in metabolic activity such as the heart, liver, and kidney. I don’t know about you but I’ve never eaten any of these sources and I don’t ever want to. If you’re not into organ consumption, then steak would be another good option but the leaner the cut the better.
Another alternative is to choose plant-based sources like spinach, broccoli, garden peas, brussels sprouts, and rice bran. These are better food sources since they also help you with other antioxidant properties, which can make a big difference in the aging process.
If you choose to use supplementation to obtain additional lipoic acid then make sure you use the “Right” form of lipoic acid. Lipoic acid comes in what are termed “mirror image” forms labeled “R” and “S.” Only the “R” form is produced and used by the body. However, inexpensive chemical manufacturing will produce equal amounts of “R” and “S” lipoic acid, which is then packaged as either “R/S Lipoic Acid” or “Alpha Lipoic Acid.”
Product manufacturers now have newer precision techniques that allow for the pure “R” lipoic acid to be produced. This has a much higher potency and provides twice the active ingredient as you would find in alpha lipoic acid.
If you decide to supplement then make sure that you choose a manufacturer that provides you with only the active “R” molecule. This will allow you to use a lower dose and get better results.
There is no set dosage for this nutrient. Most of the clinical studies used 600 mg. And most of the research in this area would suggest that 300 – 600 mg is both safe and sufficient.
Blessing Lives Through Nitric Oxide Therapy!