June 24, 2024

Alpha Lipoic Acid Supplements: Why We Need It

Written by our expert


Avanthika Nityanand

M.Sc Human Genetics, B.Sc Plant Biology & Plant Biotechnology

Medically Reviewed by

Col (Dr) Surendra Ramamurthy

Col (Dr) Surendra Ramamurthy

Healthcare Technology & Digital Health Advisor and Military Veteran (Doctor)

Alpha Lipoic Acid Supplements: Why We Need It
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Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is a naturally occurring compound that plays a vital role in energy metabolism and acts as a powerful antioxidant. This analysis delves into ALA's significance for the human body, its biochemical roles, therapeutic benefits, and potential side effects. Additionally, we will explore the top five ALA supplement brands.

Biochemical Role of Alpha-Lipoic Acid

Energy Metabolism

Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is essential in mitochondrial energy metabolism. It acts as a cofactor for mitochondrial enzymes involved in the Krebs cycle, which is pivotal for converting carbohydrates, fats, and proteins into energy. Specifically, ALA is involved in the oxidative decarboxylation of alpha-keto acids, a critical step in ATP production.

A 2019 paper noted that despite its potential, ALA's therapeutic efficacy is limited due to its low bioavailability and short half-life, but innovative formulations and the R-enantiomer have shown improved pharmacokinetic properties, enhancing its absorption and effectiveness. [ref]

Antioxidant Properties

One of the most remarkable properties of ALA is its dual solubility, meaning it is both water and fat-soluble. This unique characteristic allows it to function in every cell and tissue in the body. ALA helps regenerate other antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, and glutathione, thereby enhancing the body's overall antioxidant capacity.

A 2021 systematic review and meta-analysis evaluated the impact of alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) supplementation on oxidative stress parameters, demonstrating its antioxidant effect and ability to reduce reactive oxygen species. Findings showed that ALA significantly decreased Malondialdehyde (MDA) levels compared to the control group, indicating a reduction in lipid peroxidation. However, no significant effects were found on other antioxidant enzymes and oxidative stress parameters. Overall, ALA supplementation at doses below 800 mg/day is recommended to control lipid peroxidation. [ref]

Therapeutic Benefits of Alpha-Lipoic Acid

Weight Management

Some studies indicate that ALA may aid in weight management by enhancing mitochondrial function and increasing energy expenditure. It may also help reduce appetite and increase the body's ability to burn fat, making it a useful supplement for weight loss programs.

A 2017 meta-analysis analyzed data from ten randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies, and found that ALA treatment led to an average weight loss of 1.27 kg and a BMI reduction of -0.43 kg/m² compared to placebo. The study also noted that while ALA treatment offers small short-term weight loss benefits, further research is needed to explore varying doses and long-term effects on weight management. [ref]

Diabetes Management

ALA has been extensively studied for its role in managing diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes. It improves insulin sensitivity, thereby aiding in better blood glucose control. Furthermore, ALA has shown promise in alleviating symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, a common complication of diabetes characterized by nerve damage.

A 2011 review noted highlighted ALA as a promising antioxidant for managing diabetic complications, particularly effective in patients with diabetic neuropathy, due to its role in reducing oxidative stress and modulating various metabolic and antioxidant defense mechanisms. [ref]


The antioxidant properties of ALA extend to neuroprotection. ALA can cross the blood-brain barrier, providing a defense against oxidative stress in the brain. Research suggests that ALA may be beneficial in treating neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease by reducing oxidative damage and improving mitochondrial function.

An early review paper noted that ALA crosses the blood-brain barrier and offers neuroprotection by reducing oxidative stress, regenerating other antioxidants, and raising intracellular glutathione levels, showing potential therapeutic benefits for various brain and neural disorders. [ref]

Cardiovascular Health

ALA contributes to cardiovascular health by improving endothelial function and reducing inflammation. It helps lower levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, thereby reducing the risk of atherosclerosis. ALA also enhances blood flow and reduces blood pressure, contributing to overall heart health. [ref]

Anti-inflammatory Effects

Chronic inflammation is a precursor to many diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. ALA exhibits anti-inflammatory properties by inhibiting pro-inflammatory cytokines and activating anti-inflammatory pathways. This makes it a potential therapeutic agent for conditions characterized by chronic inflammation. [ref]

Potential Side Effects of Alpha-Lipoic Acid

While ALA is generally considered safe, especially at recommended dosages, some individuals may experience side effects.

These can include gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. High doses of ALA may lead to more serious effects like oxidative stress if the body's antioxidant systems become overwhelmed.

Therefore, it's crucial to adhere to recommended dosages and consult healthcare providers before starting ALA supplementation.

Top 5 Alpha-Lipoic Acid Supplements Brands

1. Doctor's Best Alpha-Lipoic Acid [Livest Recommended]

Doctor's Best Alpha-Lipoic Acid is a popular choice due to its high quality and affordability. Each capsule contains 600 mg of ALA, which is an effective dose for most therapeutic needs. It is non-GMO, gluten-free, and vegan, catering to a wide range of dietary preferences.


Doctor's Best ALA (for Indian readers)

2. NOW Foods Alpha-Lipoic Acid

NOW Foods is a trusted brand known for its high-quality supplements. Their ALA product offers 250 mg per capsule, making it suitable for those seeking a lower dose. It is free from soy, dairy, and gluten and is also suitable for vegetarians.

3. Jarrow Formulas Alpha-Lipoic Acid

Jarrow Formulas offers a 300 mg ALA supplement known for its purity and effectiveness. This product is enhanced with biotin, which works synergistically with ALA to improve metabolic and antioxidant functions. It is suitable for vegetarians and free from common allergens.

4. Pure Encapsulations Alpha-Lipoic Acid

Pure Encapsulation is a premium brand that provides hypoallergenic supplements. Their ALA product contains 200 mg per capsule, making it ideal for those who require a moderate dose. It is free from gluten, soy, and dairy and is manufactured in a facility that adheres to strict quality control standards.


Alpha-lipoic acid is a multifaceted compound with numerous health benefits ranging from energy metabolism and antioxidant properties to therapeutic effects in diabetes, neuroprotection, cardiovascular health, and weight management. While generally safe, it is essential to use ALA supplements as directed and consult with healthcare professionals to avoid potential side effects.

The top ALA supplements in the USA offer various dosages and formulations to cater to individual needs, ensuring that everyone can benefit from this powerful antioxidant.

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