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MoonDragon's Health & Wellness
Nutrition Basics


(Lipoic Acid / Thioctic Acid)

For Informational Use Only
For more detailed information contact your health care provider
about options that may be available for your specific situation.

  • Antioxidant Introduction
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid Description
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid Uses, Health Benefits, & Scientific Evidence
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid Dosage Information
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid Safety, Cautions, & Interaction Information
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid Supplements & Products



    An antioxidant is a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that transfers electrons or hydrogen from a substance to an oxidizing agent. Oxidation reactions can produce free radicals. In turn, these radicals can start chain reactions. When the chain reaction occurs in a cell, it can cause damage or death to the cell. Antioxidants terminate these chain reactions by removing free radical intermediates, and inhibit other oxidation reactions. They do this by being oxidized themselves, so antioxidants are often reducing agents such as thiols, ascorbic acid, or polyphenols.

    Substituted phenols and derivatives of phenylenediamine are common antioxidants used to inhibit gum formation in gasoline (petrol). Although oxidation reactions are crucial for life, they can also be damaging; plants and animals maintain complex systems of multiple types of antioxidants, such as glutathione, vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin E as well as enzymes such as catalase, superoxide dismutase and various peroxidases. Insufficient levels of antioxidants, or inhibition of the antioxidant enzymes, cause oxidative stress and may damage or kill cells. As oxidative stress appears to be an important part of many human diseases, the use of antioxidants in pharmacology is intensively studied, particularly as treatments for stroke and neurodegenerative diseases. Moreover, oxidative stress is both the cause and the consequence of disease.

    Antioxidants are classified into two broad divisions, depending on whether they are soluble in water (hydrophilic) or in lipids (hydrophobic). In general, water-soluble antioxidants react with oxidants in the cell cytosol and the blood plasma, while lipid-soluble antioxidants protect cell membranes from lipid peroxidation. These compounds may be synthesized in the body or obtained from the diet. The different antioxidants are present at a wide range of concentrations in body fluids and tissues, with some such as glutathione or ubiquinone mostly present within cells, while others such as uric acid are more evenly distributed (see table below). Some antioxidants are only found in a few organisms and these compounds can be important in pathogens and can be virulence factors.

    The relative importance and interactions between these different antioxidants is a very complex question, with the various metabolites and enzyme systems having synergistic and interdependent effects on one another. The action of one antioxidant may therefore depend on the proper function of other members of the antioxidant system. The amount of protection provided by any one antioxidant will also depend on its concentration, its reactivity towards the particular reactive oxygen species being considered, and the status of the antioxidants with which it interacts.

    Some compounds contribute to antioxidant defense by chelating transition metals and preventing them from catalyzing the production of free radicals in the cell. Particularly important is the ability to sequester iron, which is the function of iron-binding proteins such as transferrin and ferritin. Selenium and zinc are commonly referred to as antioxidant nutrients, but these chemical elements have no antioxidant action themselves and are instead required for the activity of some antioxidant enzymes.

    Acorbic Acid (Vitamin C)
    50 to 60
    260 (Human)
    6,400 (Human)
    Lipoic Acid
    0.1 to 0.7
    4 to 5 (Rat)
    Uric Acid
    200 to 400
    1,600 (Human)
    Beta-Carotene: 0.5 to 1
    Retinol (Vitamin A): 1 to 3
    5 (Human, Total Carotenoids)
    Alpha-Tocopherol (Vitamin E)
    10 to 40
    50 (Human)
    Ubiquinol (CoEnzyme Q)
    200 (Human)

    For more detailed information about antioxidants, see Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants Introduction and Wikipedia: Antioxidant


    Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is also called thioctic acid and has been called the "universal" antioxidant.

    It is a sulfurous fatty acid that would have been classified as a vitamin except for the fact that it can be synthesized within the human body. Alpha Lipoic Acid is a sulfur-containing substance manufactured by your body and is beneficial because of its involvement in carbohydrate metabolism. Since Alpha Lipoic Acid deactivates both fat and water soluble free radicals (in the body - free radicals are high-energy particles that ricochet wildly and damage cells), it protects lipoproteins and membranes, which is something no other antioxidant can do.

    Alpha Lipoic Acid helps to neutralize the effects of free radicals on the body by enhancing the antioxidant functions of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Glutathione. It helps to recycle vitamins C and E, restoring their antioxidant properties after they have neutralized free radicals. Glutathione is one of the body's most powerful antioxidant enzymes, which helps dissolve toxic substances in the liver. It is a potent scavenger of hydroxyl free radicals and inhibits the cross-linking of the body's proteins.

    Alpha Lipoic Acid is also easily absorbed into the blood stream, and it can also cross the blood brain barrier. 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. ALA is one of the very few substances that can actually cross the blood/brain barrier to enter the brain and go directly where it is needed most. ALA supplementation causes increased levels of glutathione, this helps the body get rid of toxins. This is important because glutathione protects the brain from free radical damage, and low levels of glutathione in the brain is associated with brain disorders, for example: stroke, dementia, Parkinsons's and Alzheimer's disease.

    Alpha Lipoic Acid can be found in foods such as organ meats and vegetables (such as spinach, broccoli, potatoes, Brewer's Yeast). It is easily absorbed either from food eaten or from supplements.



    Scientists first discovered the importance of Alpha Lipoic Acid in the 1950's, recognized it as an antioxidant in 1988. It has been the subject of an enormous amount of basic research around the world, some being done at the University of California, Berkely by Dr. Lester Packer, a leading expert on antioxidants. Other researchers of the same University have found that cells bathed in ALA inhibit the growth of a protein linked with the growth of cancerous tumors. They believe that this has a significant implication in cancer prevention. It has been used succesfully to treat alcohol-induced liver and pancreas damage.

    Alpha Lipoic Acid supplements can prevent or treat many age-related diseases, from heart disease and stroke, to diabetes and cataracts. In Germany, ALA is prescribed as a treatment for the adult onset of diabetes. ALA has also been researched for use in the treatment of HIV. Scientific studies have suggested that Lipoic Acid can inhibit the replication of HIV by reducing the activity of reverse transcriptase; the enzyme that manufactures the virus from the DNA of lymphocytes. Test results have caused excitement regarding Alzheimer's and ALA. Results of a small test have shown ALA treatment led to a stabilization of cognitive functions in the Alzheimer's study group.

    A joint study between the Mayo Clinic and a medical center in Russia found that Alpha Lipoic Acid significantly and rapidly reduces the frequency and the severity of symptoms of the most common kind of diabetic neuropathy. Symptoms decreased include burning and sharply cutting pain, prickling sensations and numbness. The findings for this entire study can be found in the March 2003 issue of Diabetes Care,

    Here are some of the ailments that Alpha Lipoic Acid Supplements can help with:

  • Alpha Lipoic Acid helps the body clean up the excess free radicals. This helps to prevent cellular damage and death, preserving healthy cells in the body.

  • Alpha Lipoic Acid boosts glutathione levels in T cells, helping the body fight infections. With the glutathione levels being boosted, this slows HIV replication. ALA prevents NK-kappa B (a specific protien in DNA) from activating HIV.

  • Alpha Lipoic Acid prevents or treats heart disease and stroke, cardiovascular problems such as hardening of the arteries and high cholesterol levels.

  • MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: High Cholesterol
    MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Arteriosclerosis & Atherosclerosis Artery Disease

  • Alpha Lipoic Acid prevents or treats cataracts. Early stage cataracts reduced in persons with diabetes. Lipoic Acid helps to prevent Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD) due to the antioxidant properties of lipoic acid, it can penetrate eye tissue and protect both the lens and retina of your eyes from degeneration. Taken orally, ALA can help people with glaucoma. In a study about glaucoma, 150 mg of lipoic acid per day for one month was shown to alleviates glaucoma in 47% of the people and improved their visual acuity, visual field color discrimination and increased lacrimal tear fluid.

  • MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Cataracts
    MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Eyes - Glaucoma
    MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Eyes - Macular Degeneration

  • Alpha Lipoic Acid helps blood sugar control. ALA is also crucial for energy production. ALA is known also as a metabolic antioxidant, because without it, cells cannot use sugar to produce energy. A benefit of this nutrient is that is assures the proper functioning of two key enzymes that convert food into energy (ATP).

  • Alpha Lipoic Acid soothes diabetic neuropathy, decreases burning and cutting pain. Diabetes or higher than normal blood sugar levels can be normalized with lipoic acid. Lipoic acid (300 to 600 mg per day) reduces insulin resistance (increased insulin sensitivity). ALA prevents and alleviates many of the detrimental side effects that occur as a result of diabetes mellitus (both type 1 and type 2). Lipoic acid prevents the diabetic neuropathy that is a common side effect of diabetes mellitus by improving nerve blood flow, reducing oxidative stress and improving distal nerve conduction in experimental diabetic neuropathy. Several studies have proved that Alpha Lipoic Acid has benefits for promoting healthy nerve function (diabetic neuropathy) in diabetic patients with a dosage of 600 to 1,200 mg per day.

  • MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Diabetes

  • Taking Alpha Lipoic Acid can sometimes lead to a mild and relaxing feeling, and lead to a better feeling of well-being.

  • Lipoic Acid is used therapeutically to treat liver ailments and it protects the liver from the toxic effects of many pharmaceutical drugs. It is also an effective therapy in the treatment of food poisoning by toxic mushrooms.


    Alpha Lipoic Acid is a vitamin-like substance that is used as an antioxidant. Many sources list it as the most powerful antioxidant ever discovered. When looking around at various protocols for hepatitis C, you will find that more likely than not alpha lipoic acid is considered an important part of the health regimen for patients with HCV. It is considered an important and versatile antioxidant that enhances the functions of vitamins C and E and glutathione. For these reasons many people with liver conditions, especially HCV, take it as a staple part of their "treatment programs."

    Many health care providers who treat patients with HCV prescribe this antioxidant, especially those in the natural healing community, although not limited to the natural healing community.

    The functions of alpha lipoic acid is to neutralize free radicals in the body by enhancing the antioxidant functions of vitamins C and E and glutathione. According to Lloyd Wright (hepatitis C survivor, researcher and author), ALA is "used in Europe to restore liver health and confer protective benefits against oxidative processes involved in degenerative diseases."

    Another interesting piece of information about this substance is found in his book Triumph Over Hepatitis C. He states that it regenerates glutathione, giving cells a "double dose of antioxidant protection." Further he writes, "It is also easily absorbed when taken orally, and once inside cells is quickly converted to its most potent form, dihydrolipoic acid, an even more potent free-radical neutralizer than ALA. Because both alpha lipoic acid and dihydrolipoic acid are antioxidants, their combined actions give them greater antioxidant potency than any other natural antioxidant now known."

    Lloyd Wright, claims that he has rid his body of this virus through natural healing therapies and that there are no signs of the virus in his system after his recovery. Among other supplements, he took alpha lipoic acid everyday and suggests it was a "vital" in his fight against hepatitis C.

    Other points he made in its favor are: Ester Packer, professor of molecular biology at UC Berkley, says it is the most important antioxidant ever discovered; and that scientists have found that it can inhibit replication of HCV-1 and other viruses through its ability to bind directly to DNA.

    A holistic health care provider, Jesse Stoff, M.D., director of IntegaMed in Tucson, AZ, says that hepatitis C is a treatable and often reversible condition. He gives detailed description of a case in which it was cured with natural remedies and supplements which can be found on the website. He lists alpha lipoic acid as one of the supplements that should be taken. He says, "it is always useful in treating chronic liver inflammation." According to Dr. Stoff ALA occurs naturally in potatoes, carrots, yams, sweet potatoes. He reinforces that when given as a supplement it can increase the body's production of glutatione, an enzyme that protects the cells from damage by harmful free-radicals.

    Overall it is considered to be a very important antioxidant and very important in treating chronic inflammation of the liver. Books: Triumph Over Hepatitis C: An Alternative Medicine Solution
    -- by Lloyd Wright (Author), Aunica Stratton (Editor)

    MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Autoimmune Hepatitis
    MoonDragon's Womens Health Information: Hepatitis
    MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Cirrhosis
    MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: The Liver
    MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Teratogens
    MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Poisoning



    For a standard dietary dose, read product label directions.

    Alpha Lipoic Acid is safe in the doses ranging from 50 to 500 mg. Capsules usually contain between 50 to 300 mg of Alpha Lipoic Acid.

    Recommended daily dose is between 50 to 100 mg. Take one to two capsules daily with a meal or as directed by a health care provider or nutritionist.

    For treating specific health conditions, it is important to consult with your health care provider before taking a therapeutic dosage of Alpha Lipoic Acid.



  • There are no main side effects of ALA, but it is important to consult with your health care practitioner before taking Alpha Lipoic Acid if you have certain health conditions or you are currently using any of the following medications:
    • Amikacin
    • Gentamicin
    • Cisplatin
    • Cyclophosphamide
    • Thyroid-regulating medications like Levothyroxine.

  • There has been the very rare cases of skin rash in some individuals.
  • High doses of ALA can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in diabetic patients.
  • People who may be deficient in Vitamin B-1 (such as alcoholics) should take Vitamin B-1 along with their ALA supplements.
  • High doses of Alpha Lipoic Acid can cause nausea and upset stomachs.
  • People with a Vitamin B-12 deficiency should avoid Alpha Lipoic Acid as its use may cause a worsening of symptoms.
  • Pregnant or lactating women, diabetics, hypoglycemics, and people with known medical conditions and/or taking drugs, should consult with a health care provider, midwife, nutritionist and/or pharmacist prior to taking dietary supplements.


  • Books: Alpha Lipoic Acid Breakthrough: The Superb Antioxidant That May Slow Aging, Repair Liver Damage, & Reduce the Risk of Cancer, Heart Disease, & Diabetes, By Burt Berkson, Burton Berkson
  • Books: Alpha Lipoic Acid: Nature's Ultimate Antioxidant, By Allan E. Sosin, et al.
  • Books: Alpha Lipoic Acid: Nature's Supreme Antioxidant, By Rita Elkins
  • Books: The Potato Antioxidant: Alpha Lipoic Acid: A Health Learning Handbook, By Beth M. Ley
  • Books: All About Alpha-Lipoic Acid (Frequently Asked Questions), By Cynthia M. Watson, MD


  • Alpha Lipoic Acid Products
  • Brewers Yeast Products

  • Lipoic (R) Acid Products
  • Thioctic Lipoic Acid Products


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    Alpha Lipoic Acid is central to recycling other antioxidants like Vitamin E, Vitamin C, and GSH glutathione. By "sparing" their destruction, Alpha Lipoate extends their antioxidant power. Being both water and fat soluble, lipoic acid is the "universal" antioxidant that can easily function in both cellular membranes and fluid media within and outside the cell.


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    HerbsPro: Alpha Lipoic Acid Night Cream With DMAE & Vitamin C, Reviva, 0.25 oz., 12 Pack (89047)


    Kalyx: Alpha Lipoic Acid, FoodScience Labs, 60 Caps: K
    A dietary supplement to support healthy glucose metabolism and provide antioxidant support.
    Kalyx: Alpha Lipoic Acid (Thioctic Acid), Nutraceutical Grade, Kalyx Bulk Products, 25 Kg (55 lbs): GF

    Skin Care

    Kalyx: DMAE & Alpha Lipoic, With Ester C Retexturizing Creme, Derma E, 2 oz.: K


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  • Nutrition Basics: Alpha Lipoid Acid Information


    Lipoic Acid is critical in glycolysis and in the Kreb's cycle, two complex biochemical processes essential for the generation of cellular energy. The liver relies on these processes to meet its large energy demands. Lipoic acid is used extensively in Germany to enhance liver function and treat diabetes. Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA, thioctic acid) is a naturally occurring vitamin-like nutrient that has been intensely investigated as a beneficial agent for a variety of bodily functions involving the nervous, cardiovascular, immune, and detoxification systems. It exists as two enantiomers or stereoisomers: R-(+)-lipoic acid (RLA) and S-(-)-lipoic acid (SLA). It is produced in small amounts in the liver and other body tissues, where it is needed by enzymes to catalyze numerous essential chemical reactions in the body. For instance, ALA is essential inside the mitochondria of cells, where it is needed to metabolize glucose and direct calories into energy production.

    R-Lipoic Acid is a natural form of lipoic acid that your body can synthesize and safely metabolize. R-Lipoic Acid may be better absorbed and more effective as an antioxidant than alpha-lipoic acid. R-lipoic acid by itself may be 10 times more effective than other forms of lipoic acid. R-Lipoic Acid has been called the mitochondrial antioxidant because it is a key component of mitochondrial dehydrogenase complexes, which may help slow the natural aging process in animals. R-lipoic acid may be more effective than other forms of lipoic acid in increasing or maintaining levels of other antioxidants that may decline with age, including CoQ10, vitamins C and E, and glutathione, according to animal research.


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    Lipoic acid is versatile water and fat soluble antioxidant that helps reduce free radical activity. This compound also helps support normal glucose metabolism.
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    Amazon: R-Lipoic Acid Supplement Products

  • Nutrition Basics: Alpha Lipoid Acid Information


    Lipoic acid is part of a multienzyme complex with thiamine which catalyzes the oxidative decarboxylation of pyruvate and alph-ketoglutarate to acetyl- coenzyme A and succinyl CoA, important to the citric acid energy cycle. Thioctic acid is important in the clearance of lactic acid and pyruvic acid. It is also a biocatalyst.


    Kalyx: Alpha Lipoic Acid (Thioctic Acid), Nutraceutical Grade, Kalyx Bulk Products, 25 Kg (55 lbs): GF


    Amazon: Thioctic Acid Supplement Products

    Amazon: Thioctic (Lipoic Acid), Cardiovascular Research, 100 mg, 50 Caps

  • Nutrition Basics: Lipoic Acid Supplement Information
  • Nutrition Basics: Alpha Lipoic Acid Antioxidant Supplement Information

  • MoonDragon's Womens Health Index

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