Dr. Lester Packer, one of the the world's foremost authority on antioxidants, calls alpha lipoic acid (ALA) the most versatile and powerful antioxidant in the antioxidant network family. Many of the benefits of alpha lipoic acid are unique, for reasons we shall explore here.
Universal Properties. One of ALA's unique properties is that is is both fat- and water-soluble, so it can be found in almost every area of your body, which is why it is sometimes called the universal antioxidant.
Alpha Lipoic Acid is a antioxidant powerhouse. This super-antioxidant breaks many of the rules regarding antioxidant behavior. It has the unique ability to replenish itself — the only antioxidant that has this property.
When combined with the amino acid L-carnitine, a substance that promotes the transport of fatty acid into the cells, ALA can literally rejuvenate mitochondria in your cells.
Mitochondria are the part of the cell that produces the energy for the cell to run on. As we age, our mitochondria also ages and slows down energy production.
If you are an endurance athlete, you are pumping many times the amount of oxygen through your system when you are exercising than when you are at rest. Burning glucose and fat for fuel as we do when exercising generates more oxidative stress.
Similarly, performing resistance exercise such as weight training causes small tissue damage, leading to localized inflammation, pain and swelling. Your immune system attempts to clear out damaged tissue by generating free radicals, which is a good reason you'll want a surplus of antioxidants in your system.
In addition to its ability to neutralize a wide variety of free radicals, ALA is the only antioxidant that can recycle all of the other network antioxidants: vitamin E and vitamin C, glutathione and coenzyme Q-10. In fact, it can assume the role of vitamin E if there is a lack of that vitamin available.
Alpha Lipoic Acid Boosts Glutathione Levels.
Lipoic acid is especially valuable because it can regenerate glutathione, the body's Master Antioxidant, called that because of its abundance everywhere in your body. Maintaining a high level of glutathione is critical for life.
Glutathione levels are severely depleted in people with illnesses such as AIDS, cancer and other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Glutathione may not be significantly boosted by taking oral supplements of it because most of it is broken down into separate amino acids before it can be absorbed into your cells.
Your body can make its own supply of lipoic acid, glutathione and CoQ-10, but this ability declines with age. By the age of 40, you may be producing only enough to meet our body's most basic needs for metabolic functions.
Only surplus lipoic acid can regenerate glutathione or provide antioxidant benefits, which is why supplementing makes so much sense, since there are no food sources with enough of it to make a sizeable difference.
For more information on boosting glutathione levels with supplements, go to my page on glutathione supplements.
Diabetes. ALA has been found to help normalize blood sugar and reverse insulin resistance, making it a valuable supplement in treating diabetes and hypoglycemia. In fact, it has been used in Europe for three decades to prevent and relieve the complications of diabetes.
Stroke. ALA has the ability to penetrate the blood brain barrier, another special property that allows it to protect against stroke-related brain injury, memory and brain aging.
Alzheimer's. ALA acts to remove excess mercury, lead, iron, aluminum and copper out of the body. Excess levels of aluminum and mercury may be an underlying cause of dementia, or Alzheimer's disease.
Glaucoma and Cataracts. ALA reduces glaucoma and cataract formation. Glaucoma is characterized by an increase in pressure within the eye, causing a gradual loss of peripheral vision.
A cataract is a cloudy or opaque covering that grows over the lens of the eye and is caused by free radical damage. Cataracts are a result of a lifetime of free radical damage from sunlight, which depletes the eyes of antioxidants.
The benefits of alpha lipoic acid may also apply to the prevention and/or treatment of the following:
For more information on alpha-lipoic acid,
go to my page on Alpha-Lipoic Acid Supplements
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