Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is becoming a popular supplement. It is both water and fat soluble. ALA helps push glucose into muscle cells and connective tissues instead of letting it turn into fat. It does this by protecting the membrane around cells.

Alpha-lipoic acid is not the same as alpha linolenic acid, which is an omega-3 fatty acid that may help heart health. There is confusion between alpha-lipoic acid and alpha linolenic acid because both are sometimes abbreviated ALA. Alpha-lipoic acid is also sometimes called lipoic acid.

What are the Benefits?

  • Antioxidant
  • Lowers risk of cancer
  • Lower cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Prevents heart disease
  • Lowers insulin resistance
  • Lowers weight
  • Improves diabetic neuropathy
  • Slows progression of Alzheimers disease

ALA has antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties according to an FDA paper published in the journal Lipids. Antioxidants attack ‘free radicals’, waste products created when the body turns food into energy. ALA helps remove mercury, arsenic, iron and other metals that act as free radicals. Free radicals cause harmful chemical reactions that can damage cells, organs and tissues.  

ALA is associated with a 11% lower risk of death from all causes, and specifically from diseases of the heart and blood vessels, finds a study published by the BMJ. This is equivalent to 113 fewer deaths per 10,000 person years. An article published in 2009 in the journal Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics reported the benefits of ALA in lowering triglycerides.

ALA is found to lower insulin resistance and weight. The February 2015 issue of the journal Obesity reported women who received alpha-lipoic acid experienced a significantly greater reduction in body weight, hip circumference and fat mass.

ALA has been approved for the prevention and treatment of diabetic neuropathy in Germany for nearly 30 years.

The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease published the outcome of a recent trial which revealed that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids and alpha lipoic acid (ALA) slowed functional and cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease patients.

ALA is natural found in red meat and yeast or can be supplemented at 250 mg capsules twice daily with food. Vitamins and supplements should be carefully selected to guarantee quality.  DO NOT take without consulting your healthcare provider.

 Dr. Julie Wood is a Nurse Practitioner and has been serving the Middle Tennessee area for more than 30 years, specializing in adults with obesity, prediabetes and diabetes. Office is located at 401 First Avenue, Mt. Pleasant, TN and statewide with telehealth. Dr. Wood can be reached at 931-325-5560,,  

Articles are meant to be informative and should never replace the advice of your health care provider.