Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)
History: The importance of Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) was first discovered by scientists in the 1950s, however it wasn’t until 1988 that it was finally recognized as an antioxidant. Alpha Lipoic Acid is a naturally occurring compound that is made by the human body in minute amounts. We can also get it from food (with red meat being one of the best natural sources), or from ALA supplements. A highly desirable property of ALA is that it is soluble in both water and fat, meaning it has access to all parts of our cells in order to neutralize damaging free radicals. Because of this fact, it is often referred to as a “universal antioxidant.”
Mode Of Action: Alpha Lipoic Acid is an extremely powerful and long-acting antioxidant. It can easily cross the blood-brain barrier, where it exerts protective effects against neurological and cognitive diseases. The body also needs ALA to produce energy, since it plays a crucial role in mitochondrial function. Although the body actually makes enough ALA to assist in many important metabolic functions, for ALA to function as an antioxidant, there actually has to be an excess of it, and in its free state. Unfortunately, there is little ALA circulating in this free state unless consumed from an ALA rich diet and/or supplements. A very attractive property of ALA is its ability to recycle other antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, CoQ10, and glutathione to name only a few. What this basically means is that when your body has used up the available supply of these aforementioned antioxidants, ALA, if available, is actually able to regenerate them to be used again.
Anti-Aging / Life Extension Benefits: Alpha Lipoic Acid is quite simply one of the most powerful anti-aging, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory supplements available. ALA production by the body decreases with age, and targeted supplementation can have a host of benefits. Studies have shown that ALA (especially in combination with Acetyl-L-Carnitine) can restore mitochondrial function to youthful levels. ALA has also been shown to help restore the age related decline in cognitive and immune function. It really is a cellular rejuvenator, repairing damaged cells, with benefits throughout the body. Notable is ALA’s ability to enhance insulin sensitivity, and I would highly recommended this supplement to anyone suffering from, or with concerns about diabetes. Alpha Lipoic Acid is also a very effective heavy metal chelator, effectively removing heavy metals from your body, especially if used in combination with chlorella and cilantro. ALA’S effectiveness can be further enhanced by using it in combination with Acetyl-L-Carnitine (also covered in this section of the book), as the two have a synergistic effect.
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