Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA) is promoted as a powerful anti-oxidant, commonly taken with Nootropic supplements or on it’s own, to encourage anti-aging benefits and brain health. It is considered to be one of the best supplements for life extension.
What Is Alpha-Lipoic Acid?
Alpha Lipoic Acid (also known as ALA), is a fatty acid that is naturally found in the body in small amounts in every human cell.
It can also be found in food sources such as yeast, liver, broccoli, spinach and peas. However, as we age, the amount of Lipoic acid in the body declines and these foods do not seem to substantially increase free ALA in the body.
Used throughout the body and the brain, this chemical performs many vital functions at the cellular level, including turning glucose (blood sugar) from carbohydrates into cellular energy.
This ongoing energy production is called the Krebs cycle and it is thought that without ALA, cellular energy isn’t possible. A boost in cellular energy reduces fatigue, improves overall health and boosts mental energy and cognition.
Another important role of Alpha Lipoic Acid, is that it is thought to be a powerful anti-oxidant, taking toxins out of the body and working in the prevention of cell damage caused by harmful waste in the body known as free radicals.
This is a crucial process, thought to be implicated in many age related diseases and is a significant factor in fighting aging, infections and preventing damage to the organs and tissues.
In addition, Alpha Lipoic Acid has a few unique functions. It is anti-oxidant that is both water and fat soluble. It is also thought to regenerate important anti-oxidants such as vitamin C, E and glutathione that has already been used up and amplify the effects CoQ10.
Alpha-Lipoic Acid Anti-Oxidant Effects
ALA is found in the body in varying concentrations, including in internal organs and muscles. It is thought that the body uses up ALA resources quickly.
ALA’s “job” in the body is to turn glucose (sugar) into energy and to get rid of waste when food turns into energy. It is during this process, that the body creates free radicals.
Free radicals are formed when oxygen connects to certain molecules which than starts a chain reaction. Much damage can occur if they connect to the cellular membrane or to DNA.
This may cause cellular, organ and tissue damage and is associated with being one of the main pathways of many diseases including cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Alpha-Lipoic Acid is thought to be a powerful and potent anti-oxidant that may increase enzymes that attack these free radicals. ALA may terminate this chain reaction and prevent these molecules from being damaged before this happens.
Additionally, ALA is thought to uniquely work in amplifying the effects of CoQ10 and glutathione. These two compounds are thought to be extremely important in fighting aging, infections and diseases. Vitamins C & E are also thought to be more effective at eliminating toxins and poisons with ALA use.
By supplementing with ALA, this may rectify the imbalance between the production of free radicals and the body’s ability to cleanse them. This a huge factor associated with Diabetes.
Finally, Alpha-Lipoic Acid supplements are thought to still act as an anti-oxidant even if there is already an excess of ALA production in the body.
Benefits of Alpha-Lipoic Acid in the Brain
Alpha Lipoic Acid moves through cells throughout the body and is also able to cross the blood-brain barrier, supporting brain health and function in a few ways.
It is thought that as we age, the production of ALA decreases. Although more research needs to be done, supplementation may potentially slow down the aging process of the brain or even reverse the damage of aging cells by neutralizing free radicals.
Free radicals can cause oxidative stress to brain cell mitochondria. This occurs when the production of free radicals are not off-set by anti-oxidants such Alpha lipoic Acid.
Research has strongly implicated that oxidative stress is a contributing factor to many cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s. The largest percentage of free radicals are found in the brain, making neurons highly vulnerable.
In addition, Alpha lipoic Acid is thought to boost production of Acetylcholine. This an important neurotransmitter or chemical messenger in the brain that is responsible for memory function, focus and concentration, which may all be improved when taking ALA.
Research is still ongoing whether Alpha Lipoic Acid can restore damaged neuronal cells. This may be beneficial in reversing damage in the brain that can be caused by many factors such as alcoholism, thyroid issues and injury. However, research suggests that taking ALA prior to having conditions, might reduce the potential risk of damage.
Is Alpha-Lipoic Acid Safe?
Alpha-Lipoic is considered to be a generally safe supplement and well tolerated in healthy people. Clear potential side effects and toxicity with long-term use of ALA have not been reported thus far. Side effects are rare however, mild side effects may include nausea, vomiting, skin rashes and diarrhea.
There are not enough studies to ensure the safety of this supplement on pregnant or nursing women or children. It is best to stay on the safe side and avoid this supplement.
If you are at risk or have a thiamine deficiency (Vitamin B1) which can come from excessive alcohol consumption and taking ALA, it is important to take a thiamine supplement or vitamin B1 in combination with it.
ALA may lower blood sugar when taken in high doses (500mg or more) per day consistently. If you have diabetes, it is recommended to speak with your doctor first before taking ALA.
This supplement may compete with Biotin since they have similar chemical structures. If you are taking more than 100mg of ALA a day, you may need to increase the dosage of Biotin.
This supplement may interact with thyroid, diabetes or cancer medications. Please consult your doctor first before taking it.
How Much Alpha-Lipoic Acid Should I Take?
When starting on any new supplement, it is recommended to always take the lowest dose. This will help you determine how the Nootropic supplement will effect and/or benefit you and what dosage will work best for you.
Taking ALA with a meal decreases its bio-availability, it may be best to take it on an empty stomach.
Since this supplement is already a naturally produced chemical found in the body, you don’t need large doses to obtain the potential health benefits.
The general accepted dosage ranges between 200 mg-400 mg a day depending on what you are taking for. If you are taking ALA as an antioxidant, the dosage should be between 50 mg-100 mg and is a good starting point.
ALA is a versatile supplement that can be combined with most other Nootropics. Users find that taking Alpha-Lipoic Acid with stronger Nootropic stacks such as Racetams or along with a Choline supplements, may potentially provide additional Nootropic effects and benefits.
These are just guidelines, please consult your doctor if you have any concerns.
Alpha Lipoic Acid Review
With a wide range of notable health benefits for cells in both the body and the brain, Alpha Lipoic Acid supplements have recently gained a lot of interest. A unique anti-oxidant, it is both water and fat soluble and pairs well with many other Nootropics.
Believed to be one of the most versatile and potent anti-oxidants in removing toxins from the body, it is also thought to protect brain cells from damage and potentially increase the speed of many cognitive functions.
ALA may also collaborate well in combination with other Nootropics, especially with Choline or Racetam supplements. This may potentiate stronger benefits of other Nootropics when stacked with ALA.