Lipoic acid is one of the most potent, versatile and longer-acting antioxidant vitamins known. Of all the major antioxidant vitamins only lipoic acid possesses the unique ability to work in both water-soluble and fat-soluble environments in the body. This ubiquitous property means that lipoic acid has access to all parts of our cells to neutralize damaging free radicals, which are implicated in many age-related diseases including heart disease and diabetes. Being able to navigate cellular membranes throughout the body also means that lipoic acid can also cross the blood-brain barrier to exert its protective effects against neurological and cognitive diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Bruce Ames, Ph.D., from the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Ames and colleagues maintain that “oxidant by-products of normal metabolism cause extensive damage to DNA, protein, and lipid.” They argue that “this damage (the same as that produced by radiation) is a major contributor to aging and to degenerative diseases of aging such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, immune-system decline, brain dysfunction, and cataracts.”1
Ames BN, Shigenaga MK, Hagen TM. Oxidants, antioxidants, and the degenerative diseases of aging. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 1993 Sep 1;90(17):7915-22
- Cumulative damage inflicted by free radical reactions in the body’s mitochondria can have numerous age-related effects by increasing oxidative stress and mitochondrial damage.
- Mitochondrial damage is a major contributor to aging and to degenerative diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, immune system decline, and brain dysfunction.
- One of the secrets to slowing down aging is to aggressively combat this oxidative damage with long-acting antioxidants.
- Lipoic acid is the most versatile and powerful antioxidant in the entire antioxidant defense network. Studies show that lipoic acid in combination with acetyl-L-carnitine can reverse mitochondrial decay and restore mitochondrial function to youthful levels.
- Some of the most impressive research on lipoic acid involves its role in fighting type 2 diabetes. Numerous studies have shown that lipoic acid improves glucose tolerance as well as the peripheral nerve complications associated with full-blown diabetes.
- Lipoic acid has a wide range of other health benefits, including preventing and treating atherosclerotic vascular diseases, helping to slow the progression of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, and having possible anticancer effects.
- As the amount of lipoic acid produced by the body decreases with aging, supplementation may be necessary to maintain adequate levels.
- A dramatic new study has unveiled an advanced new formulation of lipoic acid called sodium-R-lipoic acid, which is more potent and stable than pure R-lipoic acid. Sodium-R-lipoic acid is the next-generation lipoic acid, which reaches higher plasma levels of lipoic acid sooner than pure R-lipoic acid.
Lipoic acid is considered to be a crucial anti-oxidant for a variety of mitochondrial reactions. Animal studies have shown that antioxidants such as lipoic acid can neutralize the excess production of free radicals within the mitochondria2-5 and reverse some of the mitochondrial decay caused by oxidative damage.3
Natl Acad Sci USA. 2002 Feb 19;99(4):2356-61.
Diabetes Care. 2003 May;26(5):1589-96
FASEB J. 1999 Feb;13(2):411-8
Lipoic acid has also been investigated as an anticancer therapy,35 because of its ability to preferentially induce apoptosis36 and inhibit cancer cell proliferation.37 In one amazing case study, the authors describe the long-term survival of a patient with pancreatic cancer without any toxic adverse effects
Apoptosis. 2007 Jan;12(1):113-23.
In addition to its disease-protective benefits, lipoic acid can also help fight the ‘cosmetic’ ravages of aging
alpha-lipoic acid related to photoaging of facial skin. Br J Dermatol. Oct 2003;149 (4):841-9.