March 5, 2021
Dr Traj Nibber, CEO and Director of Research at AOR has a wealth of experience and knowledge in the field of nutritional science and supplementation. We have asked him for his expert opinion on a number of nutrients, to feature in our blog. We hope you enjoy these insights and overviews of some key nutrients.
In this blog he explains the importance of Alpha Lipoic Acid
Alpha lipoic acid or ALA is a small molecule with powerful antioxidant capabilities which has been around for over fifty years. An antioxidant is like a mop that soaks up excess toxic free radicals which are continuously generated by the body and are a source of great nuisance and cause damage to tissues. It was in the late 1960’s that ALA which was originally isolated from potatoes was used in Germany and Italy for dealing with diabetes and its complications including diabetic neuropathy, retinopathy and nephropathy- which simply put are issues that high blood sugar causes to our nerves, eyes, and kidneys. In fact, up till about fifteen years ago it was a drug in those countries.
Alpha Lipoic Acid has been known about for around 50 years. It was originally isolated from potatoes!
Alpha lipoic acid consists of two isomers or more accurately enantiomers, which are similar in every other way much like our right and left hands. If you hold your right hand in front of the mirror you see reflection of our left hand. However, the two are not superimposable, meaning your left and right hands don’t align even though they are alike! These right and left isomers are referred to as R+ and S- forms. Think of them as twins- one being a good and the other evil much like Dr Jeckyl (R+ form) and Mr. Hyde (S-form)!
Surprisingly, it was discovered that only the R+ isomer (called R+ lipoic acid) was active as an antioxidant while the S- molecule was at best inactive or worse acted against the R+. So, it would make sense to develop R+ only form of alpha lipoic acid without any S isomer! This is exactly what AOR did back in 2001 and was the first company in the world to introduce a powerful pure R+ isomer. Indeed, R+ is much more active than ALA the molecule originally used by the German and Italian clinicians!
Alpha lipoic acid consists of two isomers or more accurately enantiomers, which are similar in every other way much like our right and left hands, the two are not superimposable, meaning your left and right hands don’t align even though they are alike!
So, what is R+ form good for?
R+ is more powerful than vitamin E, vitamin C as an antioxidant or many other free radical quenchers. Moreover, R+ form can act synergistically with other antioxidants and help them recycle and become active again! When an antioxidant (vitamin E, C green tea polyphenols, grape seed, resveratrol etc.) are used up fighting off the free radicals they become inactive or spent. R+ lipoic acid acts by acting on the fallen comrades re-charging them back into active molecules!
As mentioned in the beginning, ALA was specifically used in diabetes in Germany and Italy. Lipoic acid has activity in reducing blood glucose levels but more importantly helps prevent damage done by the excess glucose in the blood and in the tissues via a process called glycation
Mitochondria is cells primary energy site. In the process mitochondria also generate lots of free radicals which is not good. R+ mops up these free radicals and restores mitochondria to a more productive site of energy generator.
R+ has this unique ability to bind (to “chelate”) with heavy metals like lead, mercury, arsenic etc. This is of real value as heavy metals are formidable toxins and increase the burden on the body and must be “flushed” out of the body. R+ “binds” the heavy metals thus removing them.
In summary, R+ is a real asset for the body with regards to glucose balance and also other health conditions like inflammation, heavy metal toxicity and improving general healthBack to Blog