Alpha Lipoic Acid Benefits: Uses, Side Effects & More
Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson’s Highlights
If you’re experiencing changes in your health commonly associated with aging (like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, and unregulated blood sugar levels), you’re probably looking for solutions to regain your health.
Taking powerful antioxidant supplements like vitamin C and vitamin E can help reduce oxidation in our bodies, but finding one that works well without harsh side effects can be tricky. Alpha lipoic acid has promise, and together, we’ll unpack the information, study the science, and discuss whether or not it’s a solid option.
What Is Alpha Lipoic Acid?
Alpha lipoic acid is a natural compound found inside all human cells that helps turn the carbohydrates we eat into energy.
Don’t confuse it with alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid. They’re both sometimes abbreviated ALA, but one is an omega-3 fatty acid that the body can’t make on its own, and the other (alpha lipoic acid) is a natural compound found in all human cells.
Human cells make alpha lipoic acid inside the mitochondria of their cells, but they only make a small amount. That’s why some people take an alpha-lipoic acid supplement or turn to dietary sources.
This acid can be found in red meat, organ meats, and leafy green vegetables.
What Does Alpha Lipoic Acid Do?
Alpha lipoic acid may be beneficial if taken as a supplement, even though the body makes it on its own.
When cells respirate (produce energy), they naturally release free radicals as part of the process. Free radicals are unbalanced molecules that need extra electrons to become balanced. When they find a healthy molecule, they rob it of its electrons and damage the cell where the molecule lives. Over time, this damage becomes oxidative stress.
Best known for its antioxidant properties, alpha lipoic acid helps your cells fight off free radicals and reduces the chance of developing oxidative stress. This is a natural response from your cells to help protect themselves.
Because alpha lipoic acid may help regulate AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) in the hypothalamus, it may play a role in helping regulate your appetite and energy metabolism. Taking alpha lipoic acid as a dietary supplement may decrease feelings of hunger, but only by a negligible amount.
In studies, people taking alpha lipoic acid supplements during a weight loss plan only lost less than a pound more than those on the same weight loss plans who did not take an alpha lipoic acid supplement.
Blood Glucose Levels
Type 2 diabetes affects the way the body removes glucose from the bloodstream. When blood glucose levels rise, the pancreas produces insulin to remove it from the blood and deliver it to the cells that need it.
For people with type 2 diabetes, the pancreas can’t produce enough insulin to keep up with the amount of glucose in the blood. The cells that need the glucose have lost their insulin sensitivity, a condition known as insulin resistance.
Diabetes complications can involve higher risk factors for cardiovascular disease, diabetic neuropathy (a condition that involves nerve damage in the fingers and toes), high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
It has been suggested that alpha lipoic acid may help decrease insulin resistance in cells, a contributing factor for people with type 2 diabetes. It may also temporarily soothe nerve pain from complications of diabetes like peripheral neuropathy, although more research is needed.
It’s important to note that even though taking alpha lipoic acid may help decrease diabetic conditions, it’s not a diabetes treatment. You should always contact your primary care physician for personalized medical advice regarding diabetes care.
Natural aging carries cognitive risks like the development of memory loss, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. Even though alpha lipoic acid has been linked to a decrease in inflammation and the increase of higher circulating antioxidants, there isn’t yet strong evidence that it is beneficial in preventing or helping restore health in a person with a memory loss disorder.
Supports Heart Health
Heart disease has been the number one killer of Americans for decades, so taking it seriously is imperative for leading healthier lives. Alpha lipoic acid may help support heart health simply because of its antioxidant function.
While most research on these health benefits has been in animal studies, human studies that researched ALA supplementation showed promise in lowering triglyceride levels and supporting healthy cholesterol.
Are There Side Effects of Using Alpha Lipoic Acid?
Using alpha lipoic acid is generally considered safe, but some people may experience gastrointestinal discomfort, like nausea, while taking it. It’s also worth mentioning that high doses (larger than 2,400 mg/day) aren’t recommended and haven’t shown a significant health benefit.
High doses may impact your liver health, so if you have liver disease, it’s important to make sure you talk to your doctor before starting an alpha lipoic acid supplement. In children and pregnant women, alpha lipoic acid supplementation hasn’t been studied enough for us to know whether or not it’s safe, so it’s best to avoid it.
It’s important to note that even though some research shows that alpha lipoic acid can help support healthy blood sugar levels, it can adversely affect blood sugar if you are taking certain blood-sugar medications.
A Better, Broader, and Safer Supplement
You may be looking for ways to support your metabolic health naturally if you’re concerned about the conditions that make up metabolic syndrome (excess weight, unhealthy cholesterol, unregulated blood sugar levels, and high blood pressure).
While there are certainly benefits to alpha lipoic acid supplementation, higher doses could be harmful, and at least 2,400 mg/day is recommended to affect any health benefits.
A better solution? Fatty15.
Fatty15 is a breakthrough supplement born from scientific discovery, containing one pure ingredient: FA15™. This is the vegan-friendly, sustainable powder form of C15:0, a saturated fatty acid that science supports as essential, and better, broader, and safer than other essential fatty acid options, including omega-3.
What Is C:15:0?
The health benefits of C15:0 were discovered by veterinary epidemiologist Dr. Stephanie Venn-Watson, who discovered that some geriatric dolphins had fewer age-related illnesses than others.
Dr. Venn-Watson found that higher circulating levels of C15:0 were responsible for many of the health benefits seen in the healthiest dolphins. She went further, looking into the health benefits of this molecule in human populations and, three years later, published her findings in Nature's Scientific Reports in 2020.
What Does C:15:0 Do?
C15:0 (the only ingredient in fatty15) naturally binds to receptors found throughout our bodies, called PPARs (pronounced pee-pars), that help to regulate our metabolism, including our cholesterol and glucose homeostasis. This helps to explain why daily fatty15 supplementation helped to promote healthy cholesterol and triglyceride homeostasis.* You can read more here.
Further, higher levels of C15:0 has been repeatedly associated with healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels and improved heart health.* C15:0 also helps regulate functions like mood, sleep, and even appetite, because of their ability to bind to those PPAR receptors.*
How Do I Get C:15:0?
C15:0 is found in trace levels in whole-fat dairy products and some types of fish and plants. However, increasing your intake of whole-fat dairy products comes with extra calories, sugars, and high levels of the "bad" even-chain saturated fats.
Fatty15 is the solution. Once a day, these 100 mg capsules provide the amount of C15:0 needed to restore your circulating levels and promote your long term health and wellness. You can feel better, have better appointments with your healthcare provider, and enjoy aging on your own terms.*
Get started with fatty15 here, or learn more about the science of C15:0 here.
The effects of alpha-lipoic acid supplementation on glucose control and lipid profiles among patients with metabolic diseases: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials | PubMed
The effects of alpha-lipoic acid supplementation on glucose control and lipid profiles among patients with metabolic diseases: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials|Pubmed
Eric Venn-Watson M.D.
Senior Scientist, Co-Founder
Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.
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