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Alpha-lipoic acid or thioctic acid is an antioxidant that is produced naturally in the body. It functions as a co-factor for a number of important enzymes responsible for the conversion of our food to energy (ATP). However, we still need to get most of our lipoic acid from our diet or from supplements. In nature, lipoic acid is found in the leaves of some plants and in red meat. Unlike other antioxidants, lipoic acid is both fat and water-soluble and is easily absorbed and transported across cell membranes. This unique quality offers protection against free radicals both inside and outside the cell while other antioxidants only provide extracellular protection. Recent research has shown alpha-lipoic acid to be an efficient free radical scavenger (1)*, effective in numerous neurodegenerative disorders (2)*, and an agent that prevents deficits in nerve blood flow, oxidative stress and distal sensory conduction (3).* With its capabilities as a precursor to glutathione (GSH-a major antioxidant in the body), alpha-lipoic acid has shown to be a potential therapeutic agent fighting against HIV (4).* Lipoic acid has the ability to regenerate other antioxidants like vitamin E, vitamin C and GSH for further use after they have eradicated free radicals (5).* Numerous clinical trials have shown the benefits of supplementing with lipoic acid for medical problems such as moderating blood sugar concentrations, symptoms of cardiovascular ailments, blurred vision and liver complication (6).* >
Alpha lipoic acid: a novel treatment for depression.
(1) Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 208:161, 1995.
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