What is alpha lipoic acid (ALA) and why should you care? ALA is a fatty acid produced in our cells and found in small amounts in certain foods. It helps turn nutrients into energy, protect our cells from damage, combat inflammation and prevent the processes of aging. As we age, the amount of ALA our bodies produce declines – so ensuring proper levels promotes health. Here are some of the benefits of ALA: 

ALA enhances energy production

When our cells produce ALA, they produce it in the mitochondria or the ‘energy powerhouses’ of our cells. By helping to turn nutrients into energy, ALA enhances energy production. 

ALA interacts with longevity pathways 

ALA likely activates AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), otherwise known as one of the body’s longevity pathways. AMPK works to regulate energy metabolism. With activation AMPK is thought to help convert fat into energy and inhibit the storage of fat. It is important to note that while ALA activates AMPK in other areas, ALA inhibits AMPK in the hypothalamus. This may contribute to a decreased appetite. 

ALA combats skin aging

ALA may also help combat skin aging. A study found that through using a cream containing ALA, individuals had less fine lines and wrinkles, and better skin consistency. This is in part due to the antioxidant properties of ALA. ALA also enhances the levels of the master antioxidant, glutathione, which may prevent skin aging.

ALA fights inflammation 

ALA combats inflammation. A systematic review and meta-analysis found that ALA lowers markers of inflammation, including C-reactive protein (CRP) for adults with higher CRP levels.

Alpha-lipoic acid has been shown to lower several markers of inflammation. 

ALA helps to remove toxins

As previously mentioned, ALA is a powerful antioxidant, working to prevent cellular and DNA damage, enhance levels of other major antioxidants and combat disease-associated inflammation. By enhancing the body’s antioxidant powers, ALA helps the body to remove damaging toxins including: cadmium, arsenic, mercury, nickel, cobalt, iron, and lead. These toxins pollute the body and mind. 

ALA promotes brain health

One of the main reasons for memory loss is thought to be oxidative stress (cellular aging) in the brain. As a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, ALA has been found to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. However, more research is needed.

ALA supports metabolic health

Animal studies have shown that ALA lowers blood sugar levels by as much as 64%. Similar studies have shown that ALA also lowers blood sugar and combats insulin resistance for humans, especially for those with diabetes and other metabolic conditions. 

ALA enhances energy production, supports longevity pathways, combats skin aging, promotes brain health, enhances metabolic health and combats inflammation. It is also a potent antioxidant which helps the body detox! You can add more ALA into your regimen by consuming grass-fed red meats, organ meats, broccoli and collard greens. As you age, supplementation is a route that you can take to increase your ALA levels – 300-600 mg per day is recommended! 

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