Every once in a while, Olivia and I wander the supplement wall at BioLounge to make sure we're offering the most potent and effective options. Recently, we noticed that alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) was looking a little left behind...reminding me of the children's book, The Story of Holly and Ivy in which the doll, Holly, waits endlessly to be chosen from the toy store shelf until little orphan Ivy comes along. Much like toy trends, supplement trends ebb and flow and even "rock star" supplements like ALA get forgotten.
As I thought about this powerful antioxidant, I realized that I needed a little refresher on the evidence behind ALA so I could better explain its relevance to our patients. Who does ALA help and what can we confidently say it will do when taken regularly? I jumped back into this research for a "brush-up" and so glad I did, because ALA has a few incredible benefits that we should all be clued into.
1. Boosts metabolism and triggers weight loss
A 2020 study investigated one simple intervention - what would happen if overweight patients took 600mg ALA/day without changing any other aspect of their life? Turns out for men, very little happened. However, for women, the average weight loss at 24 weeks was 3.2% and the average percentage of fat loss was 6.5%. That's a pretty incredible result when considering there was no modification to caloric intake or activity level.
Our very own, Dr. Dan Chong, reviewed this study in the Natural Medicine Journal, concluding that while foundational interventions such as a whole food diet, increased activity and solid sleep cannot be outweighed by ALA, this supplement effectively stimulates weight loss.
2. Scavenges free radicals and reduces inflammation
Cellular damage and repair is constantly occurring in our bodies. However, when there are more triggers of damage than resources available to heal, we experience oxidative stress, inflammation and resulting disease. In a large meta-analysis, ALA was shown significantly reduce inflammation and oxidative stress on the body!
3. Regulates glucose and boosts energy
ALA is not only a powerful antioxidant, turns out that it also helps the body turn dietary carbs (glucose) into fuel. In a 2011 study, 300mg ALA/day significantly decreased fasting glucose and improved insulin levels. The study determined that ALA is an effective intervention for patients with glucose imbalance.
Bottom line is that today, our bodies are faced with more insults than ever before. Utilizing ALA as a tool for better overall health and healing gives you an advantage against whatever injuries, infections or imbalances you're facing. Research consistently supports that 300mg/day is a safe and effective dose.