What is lipoic acid? It is a light-yellow powder with a bitter taste, which is easily confused with hundreds of other chemicals. However, the unique qualities of an unusual compound of fatty acid and sulfur force us to pay a careful attention to lipoic acid, which:
- helps you lose weight,
- gives your body extra energy,
- protects your brain.
It, probably, is the key that will help the humanity open the door to eternal youth.
Cleaner or commando?
Lipoic acid, aka LA, aka thioctic acid, aka lipamid, aka vitamin N, often appears under the name half-vitamin or vitamin-like substance. It didn’t manage to become a “full” vitamin because of the fact that LC is synthesized by the human body. Another interesting thing is that lipoic acid is soluble both in fat and water, while its other “vitamin activity” colleagues can only boast a single comfortable habitat.
Lipoic acid is a true Figaro: here and there. By accompanying the enzymatic reactions in the mitochondria, it helps to make the process of energy obtaining by the cells as efficient as possible.
Molecules of lipoic acid are tiny little recycling factories. The substance “picks up” the products of amino acids decay, and allows squeezing them to the maximum, thus providing our body with the substances it needs, and then removes all the “waste rock” from the body.
In recent years, doctors started seriously regarding the lipoic acid as the future elixir of eternal youth, because namely this substance in the course of the experiments proved its ability to prevent DNA damage, which is recognized the true cause of cellular aging and diminishment of vital functions.
Lipoic acid and Weight Loss: Why it works
Lipoic acid is able to “discipline” the forces that make us gain weight and store excess fat. Its activity in this quality is a multifaceted one.
- affects brain parts, responsible for appetite, and reduces hunger
- stimulates the energy flow
- improves insulin sensitivity
- qualitatively improves the absorption of glucose by the cells, and reduces its blood level
- reduces the tendency of liver to accumulate fat.
Practice has shown that lipoic acid gives the best weight loss results when combined with a change in diet and physical activity. It has a logical explanation. When you “change the course” of your nutrition, your body undergoes chemical changes (most pronounced when you follow protein, paleo or ketogenic diet, which give the fastest results and the most notable side effects), and your muscles get micro-traumas from enhanced training and cardio-exercises.
These amplify oxidative processes in your body that cause a “blow” of free radicals and damaged molecules. Lipoic acid is able not only to neutralize them, but also to absorb them, and then to recover and once again rush into the antioxidant battle.
This demonstrates another unique quality of vitamin N. It is a “reusable” antioxidant. Additionally, it features a friendly disposition. Lipoic acid can cooperate with other substances that fight against free radicals (vitamins C and E, and glutathione), and even enhance the effects of its allies.
Does Alpha mean first?
For the first time, the researchers were able to extract the lipoic acid from the cells of beef liver in the fifties of the last century. Therefore, the ALA started its “medical career” as a hepatoprotective agent.
However, scientists have begun to discover new and surprising properties of this amazing substance, and, in addition, have learned to synthesize it in the laboratory in quite a qualitative manner.
Today, chemists produce two chemically “mirror” versions of lipoic acid – R (“Right isomer”) and S (“Left isomer”). Their molecular composition does have some differences. Thus, the human body absorbs only the R-kind of lipoic acid in an effective and almost complete way.
The latest techniques allow achieving greater purity of the drug and a high concentration of R-lipoic acid. It is understood that such a material has a great potential of all properties inherent to LC. Moreover, it was proved by experiment that namely the R-isomer increases the sensitivity of cells to insulin.
However, the manufacture of pure R-variant of the substance is rather expensive, which, of course, does affect the cost of the product. So, a more affordable alpha-lipoic acid has become popular. It includes both “right isomer” and “left isomer” in equal proportions.
Products that contain pure lipoic acid
- Brussels sprouts
- brewer’s yeast
- brown rice.
When your own strength is not enough
Many living organisms (including human) can synthesize a certain amount of lipoic acid on their own. This explains the fact that a high concentration of the beneficial agent is found in the internal organs of animals.
Yet, unfortunately, we can not fully rely on dietary sources of lipoic acid. According to the American expert in functional foods, Dr. Jeffrey Webb, our enzymes are not capable of “breaking down” the connection between ALA and the amino acid lysine, which companies the lipoic acid along their travel through the gastrointestinal tract in form of food.
Therefore, we get only crumbs of valuable substances from a lunch rich in ALA.
The question arises: if people are able to produce only a modest amount of lipoic acid, and food provides even a smaller amount of it, how did we survive until now, if doctors have learned to synthesize it just now?
The answer is simple: those happy bodies that do not suffer from metabolic disorders, are not prone to obesity and have not accumulated a cartload of free radicals, can survive with the amount of free ALA they have.
Yet, the environmental degradation, as well as the fast degradation of dietary habits in the XXI century, brought the lipoic acid out of the shadows in the foreground.
You can discuss with your doctor the possibility of taking a supplementation of alpha-lipoic acid as a food additive, if you need the help of a substance, which is:
- water- and fat-soluble vitamin,
- lipid metabolism stimulant,
- defender of the degenerative brain disease.
How much lipoic acid does a person need?
The standard recommendation of alpha-lipoic acid administration as a supporting and general strengthening agent that a doctor can prescribe you is 25 to 50 mg per day. Yet, this amount can vary, depending on the purposes of use of this vitamin-like substance and health condition of the “user”.
Those who practice enhanced sports exercises for slimming can be prescribed to “eat” 100-200 mg of alpha-lipoic acid, often as part of complex products, which also contain L-carnitine. LC boosts the “fat burning” effect of this natural anabolic.
Do not forget that these supplements should be taken in courses that are strictly limited in time. This allows to avoid making your body “used” to the constant inflow of substances that boost metabolism. This also allows avoiding withdrawal symptom, fraught with failure of the body to produce these substances on its own.
Since lipoic acid has the ability to support the action of insulin and even to partially take over its functions in certain processes and reactions, diabetics are often prescribed higher doses, starting from 400 mg of LA daily.
The famous neurologist David Perlmutter, the author of “Diet for brain nutrition”, considers 600 mg of alpha-lipoic acid a mandatory amount for anyone who is interested in the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases and the “cleansing” of the consequences of long-term fast carbohydrates abuse.
In recent American trials, a daily dose of 1800 mg of alpha-lipoic acid taken for 20 weeks, helped lose 9% of body weight without changing eating habits in patients with severe obesity.
If you decide to invest in a more advanced and expensive R-isomer of lipoic acid, you should reduce the dosage by half due to its high bioavailability.
Please note that, despite all its usefulness, lipoic acid overdose can cause:
- upset stomach and nausea,
- increased skin sensitivity and muscle pain,
- strong reduction in blood sugar level with all its attendant “surprises”, such as weakness, dizziness and severe hunger.
So be sure to consult with your doctor before you run to the pharmacy to get a huge pack of lipoic acid. A healthcare specialist will help you determine its dose, which will be effective and safe for you, your slenderness and your health.
Alcohol is strictly contraindicated throughout the duration of lipoic acid course. For best assimilation, you should take the supplement 30-60 minutes before a meal or at least one hour after a meal. You can get visible and tangible results from the use of this substance not earlier than eight weeks.