Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is an antioxidant that’s made in tiny amounts by the human body. Production of ALA may decrease with age. Small amounts of ALA are available in foods like spinach, yeast, and organ meats. Because ALA is essential for healthy blood sugar metabolism and liver health, taking a daily ALA supplement may be recommended by the doctor.
Many ALA supplements are on the market, but few are bioavailable and absorbable. To obtain the maximum benefit from an ALA supplement, the physician may prescribe the sodium r lipoate form of alpha lipoic acid.
Typical American Diet
Many nutrition experts claim that today’s typical U.S. diet lacks many essential nutrients. Although previous generations consumed liver and organ meats in higher quantities, today’s American diet rarely includes them. As a result, Americans may receive less ALA than in past years:
• ALA is a powerful antioxidant that works best in concert with others, including Coenzyme Q10, vitamin C, vitamin E, and the master antioxidant glutathione.
• Researchers such as the Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute recommend alpha lipoic supplementation for patients with liver disease and diabetic neuropathy.
• To treat declining ALA levels, supplementation may improve insulin resistance, liver function, and general metabolism.
Bioavailable Alpha Lipoic Acid
Few ALA supplements are effectively used by the body. These supplements aren’t considered bioavailable because approximately three-fourths of the nutrient is excreted from the body. For that reason, ask the doctor about ALA supplements’ bioavailability. An inexpensive ALA supplement that’s not absorbed by the body can be more expensive than a high-quality ALA supplement:
• An ALA capsule or tablet that doesn’t dissolve in the body can’t be absorbed. It isn’t bioavailable and can’t benefit the patient’s liver or endocrine system.
• Bioavailable soft gel ALA supplements are preferred. It’s important to ask the doctor or nutritionist to prescribe the right ALA supplements and dosage.
• The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University recommends ALA supplementation at 200-400 mg/day.
Alpha Lipoic Acid Chemistry
ALA is a fatty acid and, in youth, the body makes the ALA it needs. ALA is used to convert sugars like glucose into available energy. ALA also works to absorb free radicals in the body.
Disease and aging can cause the body to make less ALA than it optimally requires. Although ALA is available in some foods, the Linus Pauling Institute says it is difficult to consume enough foods to meet optimum ALA supplementation suggestions:
• Green foods, such as broccoli and spinach, are natural sources of ALA.
• Organ meats, such as animal liver, kidney, and heart meats, are also good sources of ALA.
• Lean steak is another meat-based option.
• Yeast is also a natural ALA source, according to University of Maryland Medical Center.