Alpha Lipoic acid (also known as ALA) is a unique water- and fat-soluble antioxidant that plays a central role in helping to prevent free radical damage and oxidative stress in the body. ALA helps regenerate and recycle many other antioxidants within the body making it a great allrounder for general health and wellbeing.
‘R’ and ‘S’ forms of ALA
There are two forms of ALA: the ‘R’ and ‘S’ forms which have identical chemical structures and are considered to be isomers or mirror images of each other, much like your left and right hands. The ‘R’ stands for ‘rectus’, meaning ‘right’ in Latin, and the ‘S’ stands for ‘sinister’, meaning ‘left’. The majority of clinical trials have been conducted on the mixed ‘R’ and ‘S’ ALA forms. Alpha Lipoic 300 is a mixture of 50% ‘R’ and 50% ‘S’ ALA.
Free radicals are generated by the body as by-products of normal, everyday metabolic processes and through exposure to environmental toxins, including pesticides, heavy metals, cigarette smoke or chemicals and alcohol, poor diet or excessive exercise. Free radicals are unstable molecules that contain unpaired electrons, so they tend to gravitate towards and ‘steal’ other molecules from your proteins, fats and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) via oxidation to improve their stability. When oxidation occurs, important elements of cells are damaged and lose their ability to function normally.
Antioxidants, such as ALA, help to fill the gap and bind with these water- and fat-soluble free radicals to improve their stability and to neutralise them, counteracting their harmful effects. ALA enhances the antioxidant functions of vitamins C (water-soluble) and E (fat-soluble), coenzyme Q10 and glutathione, your body’s ‘master’ antioxidant, to strengthen the body’s antioxidant network and to minimise the risk of cellular damage.
Free radicals vs antioxidants
A healthy balance between free radicals and antioxidants is important for good health and general wellbeing. When the volume of free radicals begin to outweigh your body's ability to control them, you can run into problems.
Benefits of ALA:
- Antioxidant power – ALA easily converts to its reduced form, dihydrolipoic acid (DHLA), which also provides antioxidant activity. This makes ALA and DHLA a potent antioxidant couple.
- Blood vessels – ALA has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and, due to its antioxidant activity, helps reduce inflammation and damage to blood vessels. ALA helps support healthy blood flow by protecting the endothelium, the inner lining of blood vessels that regulates the diameter of the blood vessels.
- Nerve health – ALA helps reduce oxidative stress on nerve fibres, which may help to reduce numbness, tingling, burning and prickling associated with irritated nerves in the peripheral areas of the body.
- Energy production – ALA plays an important role in energy production as a necessary cofactor in energy producing reactions and in the conversion of carbohydrates, proteins and fats into energy. ALA raises the mitochondrial energy-producing capabilities of a cell and supports skeletal muscle tissue during exercise and muscle tissue after exercise by reducing lactic acid and oxidative stress.