Alpha lipoic acid is one of the most potent antioxidants around and it has the unique ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and perform it’s free radical scavenging duties for your brain as well. Another unusual characteristic is that ALA is both water soluble and fat soluble, so it can reside in basically any of the body tissues and do it’s work, rather than being limited to either a watery environment or a fatty one as most nutrients are. Because of this, ALA is of particular importance to the eyes, which are predominantly filled with water-based substances and where other fat-soluble antioxidants such as Vitamins A, D & E are of no benefit. Animal studies have shown that when ALA is administered to animals who have had cataracts chemically induced, there was a 60% reduction in the incidence of cataracts.
ALA has the amazing ability to help the body to re-use other antioxidants such as vitamins C & E, the amino acid glutathione and substances such as Co-Enzyme Q10 which is very important in glucose metabolism and regulation of blood sugar levels!
ALA has been shown to act powerfully to chelate heavy metals in our bodies to allow them to then be excreted. Examples of heavy metals which may be in our bodies include lead from old paint we may have been exposed to as children and mercury from amalgam fillings though of course there are far too many potential sources to mention. Don’t even get me started on the rubbish we breath in from car exhaust fumes in the cities!
Studies have also shown that ALA can greatly reduce inflammation through modifying gene expression, so even if you are genetically predisposed to inflammatory conditions, taking ALA may prevent or even reverse the appearance of inflammatory disease.
Of particular relevance to women with PCOS, ALA has been shown to greatly increase insulin sensitivity. It has been proven to greatly increase the rate of glucose transportation from the blood into the cells where it can provide energy to the muscles and brain, increasing muscle performance (under exercise conditions) and providing increased brain energy availability which is never a bad thing with the frenetic pace at which life runs these days!
I strongly recommend anyone who is interested in the many powerful effects of ALA to read Dr Burt Berkson’s book The Alpha-Lipoic Acid Breakthrough published in 1998 by Three Rivers Press in New York.
The Alpha Lipoic Acid Breakthrough, by Dr Burt Berkson p 116
Estrada, D., Ewart, H., et al 1996 Stimulation of glucose uptake by the natural co-enzyme alpha lipoic acid/thioctic acid. Diabetes 45:1798-1804
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