α-Lipoic acid is a natural vitamin-like compound. It is also known under the names vitamin N, thioctacid, para-aminobenzoic acid, thioctic acid.
Vitamin N is not considered an essential nutrient, but its range of uses extends widely across all body systems.
The substance is both water- and fat-soluble compound. Therefore, lipoic acid is absorbed with any food and penetrates into all tissues.
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Causes and Consequences of Deficiency In the Body
In small doses, lipoic acid is synthesized by the body itself. Its production may decrease with the development of a number of diseases, due to age or simply increased workload, so additional intake of the substance may be required
It is difficult to feel a lack of lipoic acid in the body, but when taken orally, it quickly has a pronounced therapeutic effect due to its active effect on mitochondria and the fight against oxidative stress.
The benefits of Vitamin N, Biological Role In the Human Body
Positively affects carbohydrate metabolism. Helps improve the uptake of glucose into cells and increase the sensitivity of insulin receptors. The introduction of the drug into the body reduces the symptoms of peripheral diabetic neuropathy (complications associated with the health of the lower extremities and heart rhythm). It also reduces the level of protein glycation, which helps maintain the elasticity of collagen fibers.
Has a direct antioxidant effect. In addition to the fact that alpha lipoic acid itself is a powerful protective factor, it also enhances the effect of other antioxidants – vitamin C, vitamin E, glutathione, coenzyme Q10.
Helps protect retinal DNA from age-related changes associated with oxidative stress.
Promotes better body weight control. The properties of lipoic acid can be used to improve the condition of obese people, as it helps normalize the process of converting glucose into energy.
May have significant effects on cardiovascular health. Protects against the development of atherosclerosis and the progression of already formed atherosclerotic plaques.
It has a lipotropic effect, affects cholesterol metabolism and improves liver function. By normalizing metabolic processes and the redox balance in hepatocytes, vitamin N reduces the damaging effects of toxic substances on the liver and prevents the deposition of fat droplets in it.
Helps slow down the development of cognitive impairment and dementia. Protects brain tissue, helping to prevent degenerative changes in nerve cells.
Which Foods Contain Lipoic Acid?
In food products it is found in combination with lysine (lipoyl-lysine), but its presence is usually small.
The content of lipoyl-lysine is relatively high in the liver, heart and kidneys, spinach, broccoli (about 1-3 mcg per 1 g of dry mass), tomatoes, peas and Brussels sprouts (about 0.5 mcg per 1 g of dry mass).
How to Get the Most Lipoic Acid from Food
To do this, you need to consume mainly those foods with vitamin N that do not need to be heated. For example, tomatoes, spinach. It is also desirable that they be seasonal – in this case they will be more nutritionally rich.
In what form is it best to consume?
Alpha lipoic acid is very sensitive to heat, so it is best to meet the need for it not with food, but with dietary supplements or injections.
Lipoic Acid In Dietary Supplements
The dose in the preparations significantly exceeds the amount in the diet. Some supplements contain 600-2400 mg of alpha lipoic acid, others – 25-100 mg. The dosage depends on the purpose of administration and the person’s condition.
Possible Side Effects
Alpha lipoic acid is considered safe even when taken for several years.
In rare cases, in high dosages it can cause an allergic rash and itching, abdominal discomfort, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and dizziness. Patients taking 1200 mg/day orally sometimes reported an unpleasant odor in their urine.
There is a theory that lipoic acid, when introduced into the body in high doses, can compete with biotin for transport across cell membranes. However, the question of how much its introduction can change the need for biotin remains open.
During pregnancy and lactation, as well as under the age of 18, you should consult a specialist before taking the drug.
Interaction With Other Substances
Alpha lipoic acid acts as a chelator – it can bind and remove metals from the body. In addition to heavy metals, these can also be substances needed by the body – iron, copper, zinc. Before you start taking medications with vitamin N, you should consult with a specialist and rule out iron deficiency. During your intake, it makes sense to add a mineral complex in a preventive dosage.
Taking alpha lipoic acid along with diabetes medications can cause your blood sugar levels to drop too low.
When taking thyroid hormone medications, alpha-lipoic acid may interfere with the effect of the medication.
During anticancer therapy, you should consult your doctor before taking lipoic acid.
Rules for Taking and Dosage of Vitamin N
It is better to drink alpha lipoic acid on an empty stomach – at least an hour before or after meals. Try to space it out over time with metals.
The recommended daily dosage varies greatly. The course is selected individually, most often it is 600-1800 mg per day orally, daily, from 1 to 6 months.
It is recommended that you stop taking alpha lipoic acid 2 weeks before elective surgical procedures as it may slow blood clotting.
How to Lose Weight With Lipoic Acid
It reduces the load on the body’s detoxification system and improves metabolism, which helps speed up the process of losing weight when modifying your lifestyle (changing your diet and daily activity).
Vitamin N supplements may be recommended for people who want to lose weight and are prone to metabolic syndrome, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. This substance is an effective element of complex anti-inflammatory therapy and prevention of age-related changes.
Despite a number of beneficial properties, lipoic acid has contraindications and side effects, so it is better to plan its intake carefully.