Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant that is made by the body and is found in every cell, where it helps turn glucose into energy. Antioxidants are substances that attack “free radicals,” waste products created when the body turns food into energy. Free radicals cause harmful chemical reactions that can damage cells in the body, making it harder for the body to fight off infections. They also damage organs and tissues.
Unlike other antioxidants, which work only in water (such as vitamin C) or fatty tissues (such as vitamin E), alpha-lipoic acid is both fat- and water-soluble. That means it can work throughout the body. In addition, antioxidants are depleted as they attack free radicals, but evidence suggests alpha-lipoic acid may help regenerate these other antioxidants and make them active again.
Orally, ALA is used for diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, cardiac autonomic neuropathy, retinopathy, cataracts, and glaucoma. Alpha-lipoic acid is also used orally for dementia, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), HIV/AIDS, cancer, liver disease, Wilson’s disease, cardiovascular disease, peripheral arterial disease (PAD), intermittent claudication, Lyme disease, and lactic acidosis caused by inborn errors of metabolism.
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