Alpha lipoic acid is a chemical called an antioxidant. Yeast, liver, kidney, spinach, broccoli, and potatoes are good sources of alpha lipoic acid. It can also be made in a laboratory for medicinal purposes. Alpha lipoic acid is used for diabetes and nerve-related symptoms of diabetes including burning, pain, and numbness in the legs and arms. However, it can be used for other medical conditions as well. Furthermore, high doses of alpha lipoic acid are actually approved in Germany for the treatment of these symptoms.
How Does It Work?
Alpha lipoic acid helps to prevent cell damage in the body, and also restores vitamin levels. There is also evidence that alpha lipoic acid can improve the function and conduction of neurons in diabetes. Alpha lipoic acid is used in the body to break down carbohydrates and to make energy for the other organs in the body. Alpha lipoic acid also works as an antioxidant, which means that it might provide protection to the brain under conditions of damage or injury.
Food sources of lipoic acid are not well researched. In general, however, two categories of lipoic acid-containing foods have been identified.
- Green Plants – The first category includes green plants which have a high concentration of chloroplasts. Chloroplasts are key spots for energy production in plants, and they require lipoic acid for this activity. For this reason, broccoli, spinach, and other green leafy vegetables like collard greens or chard are food sources of lipoic acid.
- Animal Foods – Animal foods constitute the second category of lipoic acid sources. Once again, the cell’s energy production mechanisms are involved. Mitochondria are critical energy production spots in animal as well as plant cells, and the main location for finding lipoic acid. Body tissues with lots of mitochondria are good spots for finding lipoic acid, so consumption of these foods also provides lipoic acid. Yeast has also been shown to contain this vital nutrient.
Side effects of alpha lipoic acid may include headache, tingling or a “pins and needles” sensation, skin rash, or muscle cramps. The safety of alpha lipoic acid in pregnant or nursing women, children, or people with kidney or liver disease is currently unknown.
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