Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) a vitamin-like compound naturally produced by the body is best known for its potent antioxidant action. However, its key role in converting glucose into energy has made researchers take another look at this multi-purpose nutrient.
A Closer Look at ALA
While scientists initially believed ALA was an essential vitamin, they later discovered that the body actually produces ALA. For this reason, a recommended daily intake has yet to be set for ALA. But a growing body of research indicates that you may benefit from amounts of ALA that are difficult for your body to produce or to obtain from typical dietary intakes.
The Universal Antioxidant
The antioxidant activity of ALA has been known and studied since 1939. Researchers call ALA the universal antioxidant because it works in both the water and fat portions of the body. ALA also appears to recycle other antioxidants the body has used to neutralize harmful free radicals.
Several lifestyle factors can increase your need for ALAs antioxidant benefits. The aging process and regular exercise top the list, but regular exposure to sunlight, radiation, cigarette smoke, car exhaust, pesticides and other environmental stressors can increase your need as well.
Supports Glucose Uptake
The essential role of ALA in generating energy from glucose has also been known for decades. However, scientists have now discovered that supplementing with ALA may offer benefits in terms of supporting insulin sensitivity, thereby helping support glucose uptake by the bodys cells. Animal research confirm ALAs benefit in supporting glucose uptake by muscle cells and preliminary studies in adults given 600-1,200 mg of ALA daily have noted similar findings.
Getting Enough ALA for Health Benefits
Good food sources of ALA include spinach, broccoli, beef, yeast and certain organ meats. However, consumption of ALA from foods has not yet been found to result in detectable increases of ALA in human plasma or cells. In contrast, supplemental doses of ALA (50 mg or more) result in significant, but transient, increases in ALA in plasma and cells. In fact, several preliminary clinical trials have shown that supplemental ALA (600 mg/day) can offer antioxidant protection.
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