Alpha lipoic acid is a sulphur-containing vitamin-like substance playing key roles in the production of ATP and acts uniquely as a potent antioxidant in protecting against both fat- and water-soluble free radicals. It also extends and enhances the effect of other antioxidants, which are used to defend the body against free radical damage.
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. Endogenously synthesized alpha lipoic acid is essential for life and aerobic metabolism. Alpha lipoic available as over-the-counter nutritional supplements have been used nutritionally and clinically since the 1950s. The supplement form is chemically derived from octanoic acid.
If you are healthy, your body makes enough alpha-lipoic acid. It is also found in red meat, organ meats (such as liver), and yeast, particularly brewer’s yeast. Whilst many foods contain alpha lipoic acid levels are usually extremely low. As absorption rates are also low supplementing with alpha lipoic acid allows more to be absorbed by the body. Around 30 to 40% of oral doses of alpha lipoic acid are absorbed. To aid the degree of absorption alpha lipoic acid should not be mixed with a high volume of liquid and should be taken on an empty stomach.
When alpha lipoic acid was discovered, it was nearly classified as a vitamin. However, as the body can make it is not strictly essential in the diet. Although no particular disease is directly linked to a deficiency of alpha lipoic acid, it does cure scurvy in Vitamin C deficient individuals.
As alpha lipoic acid is not an essential vitamin there is no set recommended daily allowance of this nutrient.