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Alpha Lipoic Acid - "A universal antioxidant"
Research and Studies

Alpha lipoic acid is not only an antioxidant enzyme, "it's a booster that heals or re-energizes other antioxidants to keep them active for a longer period of time and prevent them from breaking down so quickly," McRae says. Alpha lipoic acid is an unusual antioxidant because it's water- and fat-soluble. "You need both, because the inside of the cell is mostly water and the outside cell membrane is fat," says Steve Strassler, president of Reviva Labs in Haddonfield, N.J.

Alpha-lipoic acid, which has been referred to as "a universal antioxidant," is unique because it is both fat and water soluble. Because it works both inside the cell and at the membrane level, you get dual protection. At the membrane level you get protection before free radicals enter the cell. Any free radicals that make it past the first line of protection are combated right in the cell itself. In 1997Packer was also interviewed about this "metabolic antioxidant" by ABC-TV Nightly News. In the interview, he said: "It [alpha lipoic] is probably the most potent naturally occurring antioxidant known to man. It stacks up stronger than all of them because, for one thing, it has its own antioxidant properties.Packer, Lester, Ph.D., Witt, Eric H., Ph.D., and Tritschler, Hans Jurgen, Ph.D. "Alpha-Lipoic Acid as a Biological Antioxidant," Free Radical Biology & Medicine 19(2):227-250, 1995.

Alpha-lipoic acid creates energy at the cellular level, most people who supplement with it will not notice an increase in their physical energy over the short term. Long-term supplementation could be a factor in supplying energy, and offering anti-aging benefits, down the road. "Presumably," state Murray and Pizzorno, "the reason why some people outlive others is that they have higher levels of antioxidants in their cells. This line of thinking is largely the reason many life extension experts recommend increasing the level of antioxidant mechanisms within cells." Murray, Michael, N.D. and Pizzorno, Joseph, N.D. Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. Rocklin, Calif.

Dietary antioxidants provide protection against ischemia-reperfusion-induced cardiac injury. Alpha lipoic acid a naturally occurring, water-soluble antioxidant that can recycle vitamin C. Alpha-lipoic acid is also capable of directly scavenging radicals within the cell. Coombes et al., 2000ab - EXERCISE, ANTIOXIDANTS, AND CARDIOPROTECTION - Scott K. Powers, Ph.D., Ed.D.- Professor - Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences and Department of Physiology - University of Florida - Gainesville, Florida

Dr. David Horrobin's group at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, found that a diet supplemented with alpha-lipoic acid reversed a number of age-related changes in the brains of rats.These changes included: 1) increased activity of the antioxidant enzymes, superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase, and glutathione peroxidase (GSH px); and 2) decreased production of free radicals. Martin, D., Towey, M., Horrobin, D., and Lynch, M. A diet enriched in alpha lipoic acid reverses the age-related compromise in antioxidant defenses in rat cortical tissue. Nutr Neurosci. 2000,3: 3,193-206.

Dr. Tory Hagen and associates at the University of California evaluated the mitochondrial-resuscitating properties of an even more effective form of lipoic acid -- (R)-alpha lipoic acid. They gave (R)alpha lipoic acid to young and old rats for two weeks, and found that mitochondrial oxygen consumption of the old rats treated with (R)-alpha lipoic acid was completely restored to the level of young, unsupplemented rats.
The researchers also found that (R)-alpha lipoic acid, like ALC, increased mitochondrial membrane potential of old rats by up to 50%, compared to unsupplemented old rats.
In addition, they found that animals treated with (R)-alpha lipoic acid demonstrated twice the activity of the untreated old animals -- again, demonstrating a partial reversal of age associated changes.
(R)-alpha lipoic acid supplementation also increased mitochondrial glutathione and vitamin C in old animals to levels higher than those of young animals, indicating (R)-alpha lipoic acid's ability to reverse the age-associated decline in low molecular weight antioxidants, therefore reducing the risk for oxidative damage that occurs with aging. Hagen and his colleagues concluded that (R)-alpha lipoic acid supplementation improves mitochondrial function in old rats, alleviates some of the age-related loss of metabolic activity, increases ATP synthesis and aortic blood flow, and increases glucose uptake. The researchers further concluded that (R)alpha lipoic acid supplementation may be a safe and effective means to improve general metabolic activity and increase antioxidant status. Hagen, T., Ingersoll, R., Lykkesfeldt, J., et at, R-alpha lipoic acid-supplemented old rats have improved mitochondrial function, decreased oxidative damage, and increased metabolic rate. FASEB J., 1999, 411-418.

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