By Summer Banks on Dec 27, 2016

Alpha lipoic acid, an essential fatty acid, is a part of every cell in the body. It is also a natural antioxidant that aids in turning glucose into energy. [4] [2] It can also be referred to as thioctic acid, lipoate, lipoic acid, ALA, and thioctan. The scientific name is 1,2-dithiolane-3pentanoic acid. [20]

When first discovered in 1951 it was categorized as a vitamin until three decades later when scientists recognized it as a powerful antioxidant, similar to the ones in Superbeets and BeetElite, that could stop healthy cells from harm by free radicals (unstable oxygen molecules).

Aside from being found in the body’s cells alpha lipoic acid naturally occurs in many foods as well. [8]

Alpha lipoic acid has been used as an alternative medicine for multiple conditions and could be useful for weight loss. [8]

In this content, we will highlight the many uses and health benefits of Alpha Lipoic Acid.

What exactly is Alpha Lipoic Acid?

Alpha lipoic acid is a compound that is naturally manufactured in small amounts by the human body. [1]

It is a fatty acid as well as a natural antioxidant that helps with converting glucose into energy and is very involved in energy metabolism. [4] [2] [3]

As an antioxidant, alpha lipoic acid terminates free radicals the wastes made when the body converts food to energy. [17] [2]

ALA is both fat and water-soluble; it can pass through all of the body’s tissues, including the nerves and brain. [9]

It can be consumed naturally through some foods or in the form of a supplement. [3]

What are the best alpha lipoic acid foods?

It is found in foods such as spinach, broccoli, peas, Brussels sprouts, potatoes, yeast, and organ meats like liver and kidney. [8] [5] [4]

Top 10 Alpha Lipoic Acid foods: [15]

  • Spinach
  • Cow Kidney
  • Cow Heart
  • Broccoli
  • Tomato
  • Green Pea
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cow Spleen
  • Cow Brain
  • Rice Bran

The supplement form of this acid can be found in drug stores, health food stores, or on the internet. [4]

What is an alpha lipoic acid supplement form used for?

People have used Alpha lipoic acid for treating diabetes, HIV, cancer, liver diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and other conditions. [6] [5] [8]

What health conditions can alpha lipoic acid treat?


Studies suggest that because of its ability to aid in reducing blood sugar levels and killing free radicals alpha lipoic acid could help people with diabetic peripheral neuropathy, that have pain, itching, burning, numbness and tingling in their arms and legs from destruction to the nerves. [2]

Many studies have shown that it can help with insulin resistance and neuropathy (nerve damage) that is caused by diabetes or the treatment of cancer. [2] [14]

It also appears to decrease pain, tingling, and pricking in the feet and legs and could also defend the retina from the harm that can transpire in those who have diabetes. [14]

Supplementing alpha lipoic acid could also help another condition related to diabetes which is autonomic neuropathy, which affects the internal organ nerves. It was found that those with cardiac autonomic neuropathy which affects the heart noticed fewer symptoms when they took 800mg of alpha lipoic acid orally. [2]

It has been established through double-blind medical trials in humans that alpha lipoic acid has positive effects on blood sugar control, insulin sensitivity, heart health, nerve function and lipid levels, and decreases signs of diabetic neuropathy. [11]

Alzheimer’s Disease:

When taking 600mg of alpha-lipoic acid daily for 12 months, studies have shown that patients with Alzheimer’s disease improved mental function. [7]

An extended study of 48 months found the advancement of the disease to be noticeably lower in those taking alpha lipoic acids as opposed to those who were not being treated at all. [7] [11]

Another study showed similar results with patients that had mild Alzheimer’s displaying slower progress of mental impairment during therapy with alpha-lipoic acid. [18]

Due to its ability to readily pass into the brain, alpha lipoic acid could help defend brain and nerve tissue.

There’s research showing ALA is used to treat the effects of stroke, as well as other brain issues that involve damage from free radicals, such as dementia. [2]

Studies have found it to be an advantage to aging specifically in the brain. [11]

Additional Treatments


Alpha-lipoic acid’s antioxidant effects could be beneficial to patients with HIV as their antioxidant defense system is compromised. [6]

It could have a significant impact on blood cells in those with HIV/AIDS; study shows that patients that took a 900mg daily dose of alpha lipoic acid for six months had improved blood levels of the glutathione antioxidant and white blood cell function.

Liver Disease:

Alpha-lipoic acid appears to be a beneficial supplement for the treatment of hepatitis C. [10] It protects the liver from possible dangerous cell changes and helps it to flush toxins from the body.


An indication that alpha lipoic acid has cancer preventing effects is still preliminary, but because of its high antioxidant properties, it does have the potential to defend the body against healthy cells changing and leading to cancer.

Rheumatoid Arthritis:

While alpha lipoic acid has been used to treat rheumatoid arthritis [8], it was found that taking 300mg orally per day did not appear to have a significant effect on pain or inflammation in those with the disease. [5]

How about alpha lipoic acid weight loss?

Researchers assume that ALA aids in moving glucose to muscles and away from fat cells, therefore, boosting energy and decreasing stored fat. [13] This could be a connection to alpha lipoic acid weight loss.

It was found through a study conducted in Spain that supplementing alpha lipoic acid is a safe and efficient aide for reducing calories and encouraging weight loss. [11]

Even though alpha lipoic acid is regularly advertised as an abundant antioxidant because it is both fat and water soluble, it does appear to possibly be useful for fat loss and the prevention of additional fat gain. [12][13]

It has been stated, when talking about alpha lipoic acid weight loss, that it could help to increase metabolism, encourage burning fat as energy, decrease hunger consequently possibly aiding in weight loss. [11] It can be a big help to those who exercise exuberantly. [10]

According to a study about 1,130 men and women that were either overweight or obese were given 800mg of alpha lipoic acid daily, and after four months the average blood pressure had dropped substantially. [13]

The same study’s subjects had on average two to four point reductions in body mass index scores, the women lost an average of 3.5 inches in waist size, while the men lost 4.3 inches. Thus, the thought of alpha lipoic acid weight loss. [13]

What is the proper alpha lipoic acid dosage?

If just taking alpha lipoic acid for antioxidant purposes 200 to 300mg daily has been shown to be helpful for oxidative stress reduction. [12]

When taking for diabetes symptoms such as neuropathy, burning, pain, numbness, to increase insulin sensitive, decrease blood sugar, and reduce body fat doses anywhere from 600 to 1200mg per day have been shown to be effective. [5] [2] [12]

If taking as a part of a weight loss regimen due to it being an antioxidant, it should be consumed as far away from workout time as possible.

Because metabolic damage happens during training and is the primary spark for muscle growth. If deprived of the metabolic stress the effects of resistance training may not be noticeable. [12]

Any alpha lipoic acid side effects?

It is not known if alpha lipoic acid is safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women as the research is lacking. [2] [5] [14]

While not all side effects are known it is believed to be safe when taken as directed, aside from the above mentioned pregnant or breastfeeding women. [8]

Although it is safe and side effects are rare, they could include insomnia, fatigue, diarrhea, or skin rash. [2] [8] [14]

What are the risks?

It is important to keep in mind that it does lower blood sugar levels. Therefore those with diabetes or low blood sugar should talk to their doctor before taking alpha-lipoic acid. [2][5]

Alpha lipoic acid could restrict some chemotherapy medicines ask your oncologist before taking it as a supplement. [2]

If you suffer from thyroid issues, taking alpha lipoic acid could affect treatments for under or over active thyroid. [5] [14]

If you drink a lot of alcohol or have a thiamine deficiency taking alpha-lipoic acid could cause some dangerous health issues. [5] [14] [2]

The Bottom Line

As a natural antioxidant, alpha lipoic acid has been proven to be mostly safe and effective when taken as a supplement.

It’s useful for weight loss and can be used for the treatment of multiple diseases.

There are not many risks, and side effects are rare

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About the Author:

Summer Banks, Director of Content at Dietspotlight, has researched over 5000 weight-loss programs, pills, shakes and diet plans. Previously, she managed 15 supplement brands, worked with doctors specializing in weight loss and completed coursework in nutrition at Stanford University. full bio.