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Is alpha-lipoic acid good for you?

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Scientists call it the ‘universal antioxidant’, so why is alpha-lipoic acid good for us and could it help you stay healthy? It may not be a household name (yet!), but experts believe alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is an unsung hero when it comes to good health. Find out what the ‘universal antioxidant’ could do for your body, brain and wellbeing.

What is alpha-lipoic acid?

ALA is a powerful co-enzyme and antioxidant. Also known as thioctic acid, it shouldn’t be confused with alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid found in flaxseeds. Our bodies naturally produce a small amount of ALA, but you can also find it in liver and kidney meat, brewer’s yeast, potatoes, carrots, beetroot, peas, broccoli, spinach and Brussels sprouts.

Why do we need ALA? 

ALA is found in every cell of the human body. It has two main roles:
  • It helps turn our food into energy
  • It can fight free radicals
Free radicals are caused by a chemical reaction called oxidation. They attack our cells, leading to conditions such as premature ageing, heart disease, dementia and cancer. Pollution and toxins can trigger free radicals, but they also occur as part of everyday process such as eating and moving. ALA is an antioxidant, so it helps prevent damage caused by free radicals. It also brings some powerful friends to the party, helping the body to create, recycle and regenerate other important antioxidants including vitamin C, vitamin E, coenzyme Q10 and glutathione.

What can ALA do for me?

ALA’s antioxidant effects can help:
  • Brain and nerve function

ALA can protect brain and nerve cells from free radicals. It has been found to improve symptoms of cognitive decline and depression, and reduce back pain.

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  • Heart health

Evidence shows ALA helps reduce levels of inflammatory proteins called cytokines and increase levels of nitric oxide, which widens blood vessels. This helps to reduce blood pressure.

  • Muscle recovery

ALA helps protect our bodies against oxidative damage – free radicals – generated by exercise. It can also aid in muscle regeneration by damping down the body’s inflammatory response.

Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please consult a doctor or healthcare professional before trying any remedies.
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Sources 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25620240 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7649494 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23584634 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22785389 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23860422 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4407629/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17396066 http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/22/2/280 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8604540 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27840374 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23470303 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23180154 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8958163 http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0163484

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