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Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is a vitaminlike substance used as a primary clinical nutrient in several areas of complementary care. ALA supports blood sugar metabolism and increases insulin sensitivity. In diabetic neuropathy, ALA improves blood flow to peripheral nerves with the goal of stimulating nerve fiber regeneration. In heavy metal toxicity, ALA is used for its free-radical scavenging qualities and its mechanism for improving glutathione levels in the body. The same mechanisms support the use of ALA in the treatment of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome to prevent potential viral replication. The daily use of alpha lipoic acid as an antioxidant is uncommon due to the cost.
Other Names: 2-dithiolane-3 penatanoic acid, 1,2-dithiolane-3 valeric acid, 6,8-thioctic acid, Acidum thiocticum, Alpha liponacid, Alpha-Liponsaeure, Lipoaminsaeure, Lipoate, Pyruvate oxidation factor, Thioctic acid, Thioctsaeure
ACTIONS AND PHARMACOLOGY
ALA is an important coenzyme and has antioxidant and antidiabetic properties. It is a biologically occurring substance that acts as a cofactor in the pyruvate-dehydrogenase complex, the alpha-ketoglutarate-dehydrogenase complex, and the amino acid hydrogenase complex. Reduced levels of ALA have been found in patients with liver cirrhosis, diabetes mellitus, atherosclerosis, and polyneuritis. During metabolism, ALA may be transformed from its oxidized form (with the disulfide bridge in the molecule) to its reduced dihydro form with two free sulfide groups. Both forms have strong antioxidant effects. They protect the cell from free radicals that result from intermediate metabolites, from the degradation of exogenous molecules, and from heavy metals.
Antioxidant Effects: Dihydrolipoic acid scavenges superoxide radicals and hydroxyl radicals and prevents lipid peroxidation (Fachinfo: Thioctacid 1996; …