Your Guide to Alpha-Lipoic Acid (Everything You Need To Know)

Written on November 8, 2022 by | Reviewed by William Gallagher, MNeuroSci

Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is a powerful antioxidant that protects cells from free radical damage.

It's also been shown to help improve insulin sensitivity and maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

Alpha-lipoic acid supplements are linked to an improved sense of well-being and reduced pain in people with peripheral neuropathy.

In this article, I'll review what alpha-lipoic acid is and how it can benefit your brain.

So without further ado, let's get straight into it, shall we?

What is Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA)?

Alpha-Lipoic Acid is an antioxidant that can enhance acetylcholine, memory, and recall, and has been found to improve cognition and memory.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA) is a sulfur-containing fatty acid produced by your body. Lipoic acid is the only antioxidant that is both water and fat-soluble.

Small quantities of lipoic acid are present in:

  • Spinach
  • Collard greens
  • Broccoli
  • Beef
  • Organ meats.

Lipoic acid levels in your body decline as you get older. As a result, to maintain proper function, you'll need to take Alpha-Lipoic Acid supplements.

Lipoic acid can effectively bind and neutralize free radicals, as it is present in all cell environments.

Free radicals produced as a result of cellular oxidation are linked to several age-related illnesses.

Lipoic acid may pass through the cells of your entire body. This means it can easily pass through your blood-brain barrier as well.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid is a compound that has been shown in studies to have significant protective effects against Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and depression.

How does it work in the body and brain?


ALA is a water- and fat-soluble antioxidant that is unlike any other.

This means it can work in all aspects of the human cell.

The more lipoic acid you have in your system, the more antioxidants you benefit from.

It allows you to utilize antioxidants such as Vitamin C, E, glutathione, and CoQ10 that are already present in your body.

Alpha-lipoic acid is a potent antioxidant that also promotes energy production in cells while minimizing inflammation and removing heavy metals.

In the brain, alpha-lipoic acid promotes acetylcholine production. It also helps to increase glucose uptake in brain cells. A boost of mental energy, to put it simply.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid works in a variety of ways.

It promotes insulin sensitivity, which lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes.

ALA also aids in the prevention of metabolic syndrome, a condition that is linked to heart disease, diabetes, and weight gain.

What is the difference between Alpha-Lipoic Acid, S-Lipoic Acid, and R-Lipoic Acid?

Lipoic acid is a chemical that has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties.

It's also known as alpha-lipoic acid, ALA, and thioctic acid. The Alpha-Lipoic Acid you take as a pill is usually a 50/50 mix of R- (natural) and S- (unnatural) enantiomers.

The most prevalent types of Alpha-Lipoic Acid available are the "S-form" or non-natural forms of lipoic acid.

The two enantiomers are believed to have different biological effects.

However, because the R-form of Alpha-Lipoic Acid was not commercially accessible, most of the study has been conducted with the racemic variant.

Lipoic acid (S-Lipoic Acid) may not have all of Lipoic Acid's properties. Interactions with proteins, enzymes, and genes are among the other mechanisms by which this form differs from natural lipoid acid.

R-Lipoic Acid (R-ALA) is a type of lipoic acid that occurs naturally in people, animals, and plants. This is the form that acts as a cofactor for mitochondrial enzymes involved in energy production.

Note that most commercially available forms of Alpha-Lipoic Acid include both S- and R-forms of lipoic acid.

Because R-Lipoic Acid, when separated from the S-form, is very unstable, it is produced as a mix.

And it degrades rapidly, making it unusable as a dietary supplement

S-ALA is difficult and expensive to remove from R-ALA, so few businesses undertake the time-consuming and costly procedure. As a result, unless the bottle specifies 100% R-ALA, you're getting a 50/50 combination.

R-ALA may be up to 12 times more effective than S-ALA.

What is the recommended dosage?

When alpha-lipoic acid is taken with a meal, its bioavailability is reduced. As a result, I recommend taking ALA on an empty stomach (45 minutes before eating).

In a 50/50 ratio, R-LA and S-LA are present in most Alpha-Lipoic Acid products.

Supplements that claim to contain only R-LA are typically more expensive. And information on their purity is not always available.

Quick overview of recommended dosages:

  • The recommended dosage of alpha-lipoic acid for cognitive benefits is 300 to 600 mg per day.
  • For diabetic neuropathy, the recommended dosage is 800 mg per day, which can be divided into 2 doses.
  • 50 – 100 mg of alpha-lipoic acid per day is the recommended dose for antioxidant benefits.

What are the benefits of Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA)?

ALA can help to increase energy production in cells while minimizing inflammation and removing heavy metals.

As an antioxidant, ALA works with other antioxidants such as Vitamin C, E, glutathione, and CoQIO.

It will also promote insulin sensitivity which lowers the risk of type II diabetes and also aids in the prevention of metabolic syndrome, a condition that is linked to heart disease, diabetes, and weight gain.

In addition, ALA may have a neuroprotective effect by promoting acetylcholine production and helping to increase glucose uptake in brain cells.

It is also believed that R-ALA can benefit heart health, as well as help, improve symptoms of diabetic neuropathy such as numbness, tingling, and pain.

Here's a quick overview of the most common benefits:

  • Beneficial for Your Brain. Alpha Lipoic Acid is a potent antioxidant that neutralizes the damaging effects of oxidative stress. After a stroke, lipoic acid has been found to reduce brain damage in animal studies.
  • Lipoic acid promotes the production of acetylcholine and glucose uptake in the brain. Lipoic acid has shown promise in preventing or treating Alzheimer's disease.
  • Boost energy. ALA regenerates antioxidants that have been depleted (Vitamins C & E, glutathione), as well as CoQ10, which is recycled. Decreasing inflammation and eliminating heavy metals.

What are the side effects of Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA)?

Although generally considered safe for most people in supplemental doses up to 600 mg daily, high doses have been linked with nausea or upset stomachs in some users.

It is also possible that ALA can interact negatively with diabetes medications and cause low blood sugar.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid can increase insulin sensitivity, which may allow some diabetics to reduce their dosage of diabetes medication.

However, you must always let your doctor know if you are taking any supplements or medications before making changes in doses on your own.

Please note that the recommended dosage for Alpha-Lipoic Acid is 600mg per day.

Alpha-Lipoic acid (ALA) can also cause allergic reactions in some people, including an itchy rash and difficulty breathing or swallowing.

How will Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA) make you feel?

Unless you have diabetes or Alzheimer's, you may not feel ALA... Alpha-Lipoic Acid helps with nerve pain, memory, recall, and mental performance in people who suffer from these diseases.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid, which is also known as an 'acetylcholine enhancer,' can enhance acetylcholine. As a result, it should improve cognitive function in all age and gender groups.

Some people say that ALA makes them feel more energetic and helps with a range of brain-related issues, such as depression or memory loss and a reduction in brain fog.

Bottom Line

Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA) is a potent antioxidant that neutralizes the damaging effects of oxidative stress.

Lipoic acid promotes the production of acetylcholine and glucose uptake in the brain.

It also protects against cognitive decline by improving memory recall and mental performance for people with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia.

ALA may be beneficial for those looking to increase their energy levels as well as improve mood disorders such as depression or anxiety due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

ALA can cause allergic reactions so it should always be taken under supervision from your doctor if you are on any medications or have diabetes because it could worsen your symptoms.

ALA can cause nausea and upset stomach in some users so it is best to start with a low dosage when taking ALA for the first time, such as 300 mg one hour before each meal or 300-400 mg after each meal per day.

It is recommended that you take 300 to 600 mg of Alpha-Lipoic Acid daily for optimal health.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid can make you feel more energetic and help with a range of brain-related issues, such as depression or memory loss and a reduction in brain fog.


What is alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) used for?

Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) has been used in complementary medicine for weight loss, diabetic nerve pain treatment, wound healing, blood sugar reduction, skin discoloration caused by vitiligo prevention, and heart surgery complications reduction.

Is it safe to take alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) daily?

ALA is regarded as safe, with little to no risk of side effects. If a person consumes large quantities of it, mild symptoms such as nausea, rashes, and itching might occur. Adults may safely consume up to 2,400 milligrams per day without suffering any negative consequences, according to researchers.

Does alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) affect hormones?

Thyroid hormone activity is reduced by taking alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), according to a report published in the “Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism.”

Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is also known as an acetylcholine enhancer, which can lead to increased levels of neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and dopamine.

What foods contain alpha-lipoic acid (ALA)?

Alpha-lipoic acid is present in tiny amounts in a variety of foods. Spinach, broccoli, yams, potatoes, yeast, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, carrots, beets, and rice bran are among them. Organ meat (particularly the liver) is also a rich source of alpha-lipoic acid.

What is the best time of day to take alpha-lipoic acid (ALA)?

It's critical to consume alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) on an empty stomach in the morning since certain meals might reduce its bioavailability. Although no official dose has been established, most evidence suggests that 300–600 mg is sufficient and safe.

Is alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) an anti-inflammatory?

Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects that may be beneficial for people with arthritis, heart disease, or other inflammatory conditions. Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) helps in reducing inflammation and swelling by increasing norepinephrine levels in the body.