Do I Need Alpha-Lipoic Acid Supplements?
Alpha-lipoic acid or ALA is an antioxidant that is naturally produced in our body. This fatty acid is required for the production of energy in cells and it also plays a major role in reducing oxidative damage by free radicals. Supplements of this fatty acid were used in Europe for a long time to control nerve damage. Although this fatty acid is naturally produced in the body, supplementing it will help in having optimal levels in blood.
Many studies show that alpha-lipoic acid increasing insulin sensitivity in cells thus helping in controlling type 2 diabetes. It is often used in protecting eyes from retinal damage due to diabetes. This fatty acid is also found to be useful in controlling nerve damage caused by other medical conditions including cancer. Alpha-lipoic acid supplements are particularly useful in controlling pain, tingling and numbness in the legs. Moreover, these supplements are useful in alleviating the symptoms of dementia. In lieu with the antioxidant property of this fatty acid, alpha-lipoic acid supplements are considered to be useful in preventing age-related skin damage. Alpha-lipoic acid supplementation is being considered in the treatment of many other conditions including kidney problems, migraine and glaucoma. But one should remember that alpha-lipoic acid supplements can never replace the appropriate treatment for other medical conditions like cancer or diabetes.
How will one come to know whether they are getting enough alpha-lipoic acid? The deficiency of this fatty acid often manifests in the form of symptoms due to inadequate antioxidant activities including weak immune system, memory issues and a decrease in muscle mass. The dosage of alpha-lipoic acid in supplements is yet to be established. As of now, the accepted dosage for diabetes and neuropathy is 600-800 mg per day. If the requirement is for general antioxidant, 20 to 50 mg of this fatty acid is generally recommended. One can also get alpha-lipoic acid from foods like yams, potatoes, tomatoes, beets and carrots. Red meat is also a rich source of this fatty acid.
Taking alpha-lipoic acid supplements is not free from side effects. Some of the common side effects include nausea, skin rashes and dizziness. This fatty acid is known to result in thiamine deficiency. Headaches and muscle cramps are also common with alpha-lipoic acid supplements. Those who are undergoing chemotherapy or taking anti-diabetes drugs should discuss with doctor before starting alpha-lipoic acid supplements. It is not recommended for pregnant and lactating women as well.