Alpha Lipoic Acid supplement Benefits and side effects
Diabetes blood sugar control, diabetic neuropathy, effect on thyroid, cancer, acne, skin health
What is the right dosage for long term use? 10 mg, 20, 50, 100, 200, 300 and 600 mg capsules, pills and tablets are available over the counter, how much should you take daily?
Interactions with DMAE, acetyl l carnitine, carnosine, acetyl l-cysteine
Can you take too much and get side effects such as heart rhythm disturbances including palpitations, skipped beats, PVCs, and ectopy?
February 1 2017
Benefits and uses
Alpha lipoic acid is a powerful, natural antioxidant with unique benefits in the treatment and prevention of a broad range of diseases. In addition to being a powerful antioxidant, ALA supplements help the body use glucose, hence their potential role in improving blood sugar control and benefit those with diabetes. It reduces complications from a high sugar diet. This nutrient is readily absorbed from the diet or as a supplement. This nutraceutical has a variety of benefits, particularly for those with diabetes and diabetic neuropathy.
Caution, side effects, safety
Even though these supplements have many health benefits, many people take too high dosages with the mistaken belief that higher dosages provide even more benefits. One should keep in mind that alpha lipoic side effects are likely when high dosages are taken. The most serious side effects are heart rhythm irregularities. We suggest you limit your dosage to 50 mg a few days a week unless you are being treated by your health care provider and he or she believes you need higher dosages to treat your medical condition.
Purchase R Alpha Lipoic Acid supplement product 50 mg capsule
Highest quality raw material. R-ALA is much more potent (2 times on average) than commonly sold alpha lipoic acid which contains both the R and S forms. The S form is chemically the mirror image of the R form and is not useful to the body.
We do not suggest you buy dosages above 50 mg since there can be serious adverse reactions in some individuals. You may also consider other potent antioxidants such as Acetycysteine, Acetyl l-carnitine, and Carnosine. For better vision, consider Eyesight Rx which has acetylcysteine in it.
Purchase Alpha Lipoic acid supplement high quality at 50 mg
Suggested use, dosage, how much to take
For long term use, 10 to 50 mg of R- alpha lipoic acid a few times a week is quite adequate. For smaller amounts, you may open a capsule by pulling on each end and drop some of it in water or juice. A capsule is best taken in the morning with breakfast. If you plan to take higher amounts, please do so under medical supervision (but sometimes doctors do not know the right amounts, either).
What is the best brand alpha lipoic product to buy?
This is nearly impossible to say since there are hundreds of companies that sell such products. Chances are the vast majority that you buy are good products.
The two types
If you’re taking a conventional lipoic acid supplement, you’re likely only getting half or less of the benefit of natural lipoic acid. Thus, 50 mg of R alpha lipoic acid is equivalent to 100 mg of synthetic alpha lipoic acid. When you buy R alpha lipoic acid supplements, you only need half the dosage of regular ALA supplements.
Animal research has shown that R alpha lipoic acid acid can more efficiently than other forms to increase or maintain levels of other antioxidants including CoQ 10, vitamin C, vitamin E and glutathione.
ALA is not a vitamin since the body can make some. A vitamin is a substance that the body cannot make enough of and additional amounts have to come from foods otherwise serious illnesses can occur.
Dosage and daily intake, how much do you need and how much is excessive?
The ideal dosage of an alpha lipoic acid supplement is not known. As a daily maintenance, a dosage of 10 to 50 mg a few times a week seems reasonable.
Until long-term studies with alpha lipoic acid supplements are published on humans, we do not recommend that you take a dosage higher than 10 to 50 mg a day unless you’re being treated for a particular condition under medical supervision. High dosages of alpha lipoic acid have side effects, including insomnia and heart rhythm problems. Since this nutraceutical helps restore antioxidants, you may need less vitamins C and E and other antioxidants when you take them the same day as alpha lipoic acid.
As we found out about vitamin E, high doses of antioxidant supplements may not lead to more benefits. In fact, there comes a point where a supplement, no matter how benign, can become unhealthy if the doses are too high. There are products out there that have 300 mg of alpha lipoic per capsule. We are not convinced they are healthy to take, except perhaps to treat an existing medical condition for a specific period of time. Alpha lipoic acid side effects could occur on high dosages, including heart rhythm problems. There is also the possibility that high dosages of antioxidant supplements could turn pro oxidant (harmful) in very high dosages or they could disturb the delicate balance of the body’s antioxidant system.
Q. I have type two diabetes and use no insulin or prescription drugs. I keep my morning glucose readings in the 80 to 120 range with diet and supplements. Some doctors recommend alpha lipoic acid supplements in high dosages but this website seems to be more cautious. Some sources recommend alpha lipoic acid 600mg for diabetics which greatly exceeds the recommendation of 50mg R-form three days a week.
A. There is a difference in the dosage of a supplement as to whether it is meant for long term preventive maintenance or for the treatment of a medical condition. Also, when research is done, they use high amounts of the tested nutrient or drug for a short period of time just so they can elicit a statistically measurable effect. This does not mean that people should be taking these high amounts forever. If you have diabetes first inform your doctor of your interest in using alpha lipoic acid, then start with half a capsule of 50 mg R-ALA. With time you can increase the dose gradually while monitoring your blood sugar. One side effect to look out for is insomnia. If you notice being too alert when you go to bed, it may be that you are taking too much alpha lipoic acid, or perhaps too many other supplements.
There are many alpha lipoic acid products with 300 mg of the supplement. Are they safe?
We do not recommend the use of alpha lipoic acid 300 mg dosage.
Alpha lipoic acid side effects, danger for heart rhythm
There are no indications that low doses of lipoic acid, such as 5 to 20 mg, have side effects. Higher doses could cause nausea or stomach upset, along with over-stimulation, fatigue, and insomnia. High doses could also potentially lower blood sugar. This is often beneficial to patients who have diabetes, but it requires close monitoring of blood sugar levels. We have had reports of dosages greater than 100 mg of alpha lipoic acid taken daily for several weeks led to atrial fibrillation and other types of heart rhythm problems. Another person emailed that a 50 mg dose of R alpha lipoic acid made him feel his heart racing, he took it at the same time as his thyroid medication Levothyroid. Those with thyroid problems may consider taking a third or half a capsule of a 50 mg R alpha lipoic acid dose.
Side effect testimonials
At the advice of a consultant at a vitamin store, I started taking 900 mg (300mg 3 times a day). Two weeks later, I had atrial fibrillation and flutter which required hospitalization to get my heart in normal sinus rhythm. I am post-menopausal, healthy, non-smoking, active, normal weight. I had open heart bypass surgery a few years ago for a blocked artery, but was discharged from cardiac follow-up.
I started taking it preventatively for eye, heart and brain health due to some related diseases in my family history. I’ve been taking 100 mg a day (as per the recommended dose on the bottle) for about a month and started having very odd palpitations in my heart. I thought it was due to stress, although something in my brain said that wasn’t the cause. I decided to stop taking the alpha lipoic acid supplement as a test to see if that might be the cause, since I traced the beginning of the heart issues back to about a week after starting the ALA. After just three days of being off the ALA, the heart palpitations stopped. That’s when I found your website and the warnings. More people should be aware of the proper doses in which to take this supplement. It has great benefits, to be sure, but not if your heart stops working properly!!
A. This is very interesting. We have had previous reports of higher dosages causing heart rhythm problems, but not 100 mg. Did the bottle say R lipoic or regular lipoic?
Q. As far as I know, it was just plain alpha lipoic acid, 100 mg. That’s what the front of the label said. Every now and then I have a mild flutter, but that’s all and even that seems to be getting less each day. Is this something that usually takes a couple of weeks or more to rectify itself?
A. Yes, the heart rhythm should return to normal within a week or two if no other causes exist to disturb it.
Nausea and fatigue side effect testimonial
I note you recommend that high doses can cause nausea and fatigue. This is very true – I am currently taking 200 mg per day (brand Solgar) and this causes intense nausea and fatigue for up to two hours after taking it. After that I feel fine. It has taken me a while to narrow down which supplement was causing this as I was taking bentonite clay, zinc and alpha lipoic acid. However I am now sure it is the alpha lipoic acid.
Benefits of alpha lipoic acid product
Research in humans with alpha lipoic acid is still incomplete. However, this nutrient may be worthwhile to explore in a variety of medical conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, peripheral artery disease and Huntington’s disease.
Does alpha lipoic acid supplement use help acne?
We have not seen any reliable studies regarding the use of this supplement in acne prevention or improvement. We doubt it plays a major role in acne treatment.
Benefit as an antioxidant
It is involved in the regeneration of exogenous and endogenous antioxidants, chelation of metal ions, repair of oxidized proteins and protects brain cells from toxins. It can regenerate vitamin C from its oxidized form, dehydroascorbic acid. It increases the levels of glutathione, a very important antioxidant normally found in our cells and responsible for mopping up all types of toxins and free radicals. Glutathione supplements, however, are not very helpful since glutathione does not have the easy ability to cross cell membranes. Fortunately, both laboratory and animal studies have shown that alpha lipoic acid can stimulate the production of this antioxidant. This is particularly important during periods of excessive stress or exposure to radiation or toxic substances.
Q. Which is the more potent antioxidant: alpha lipoic acid, acetyl-l carnitine, carnosine, or acetylcysteine?
A. It’s difficult to say, all are great antioxidants and each serve different purposes. It would be better to take small dosages of each rather than a high dosage of just one antioxidant.
Alzheimer’s disease prevention or treatment
The combination of exercise training and alpha-lipoic acid treatment has therapeutic effects on the pathogenic phenotypes of Alzheimer’s disease in mice.
Int J Mol Med. 2010.
Our results suggest that the combination with exercise training and LA may contribute to protect the neuron injury induced by Abeta peptides and may be considered an effective therapeutic strategy for human subjects suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Alpha-lipoic acid as a new treatment option for Alzheimer’s disease — a 48 months follow-up analysis.
J Neural Transm Suppl. 2007.
Our data suggest that treatment with alpha-lipoic acid might be a successful neuroprotective therapy option for Alzheimer’s disease.
Circulation, benefits for blood vessels
It restores endothelial function and significantly improves systemic and local oxidative stress. Improved endothelial function due to alpha lipoic acid is partially attributed to increased nitric oxide bioavailability.
Effect of alpha lipoic acid on oxidative stress and vascular wall of diabetic rats.
Rom J Morphol Embryol. 2009.
The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of alpha lipoic acid supplementation on plasma lipid, oxidative stress and vascular changes in diabetic rats. It is concluded that alpha lipoic acid has the potential in preventing the alteration of vascular morphology in diabetic rats probably through the improvement of blood sugar status and lipid cholesterol issues as well as its antioxidant activities.
Benefit for brain health
Accumulation of iron and copper has been proposed to contribute to additional oxidative stress in aging and certain neurodegenerative disorders. Results show that brain iron levels in old R alpha lipoic acid fed animals are lower when compared to controls and were similar to levels seen in young rats.
Benefit for diabetes
Alpha lipoic acid is helpful in diabetes, particularly for those with diabetic neuropathy and nephropathy. Oxidative stress plays a central role in the cause and progression of late microangiopathic (small vessel) complications in diabetes mellitus. Treatment of diabetic patients with the antioxidant lipoic acid reduces oxidative stress and urinary albumin excretion, and slows the progression of endothelial cell damage. Alpha lipoic acid may also make tissues more sensitive to insulin.
In this study completed at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, the effect of alpha lipoic acid on the progression of kidney cell damage and the course of diabetic nephropathy was evaluated in 84 patients with diabetes. Forty-nine patients had no antioxidant treatment and served as a control group. Thirty-five patients were treated with 600 mg alpha-lipoic acid per day. After 18 months of follow up, those on lipoic acid had a slower progression of the disease than the control group as shown by a decrease in the amount of protein lost in urine. Previous studies have shown that alpha lipoic acid may be helpful for diabetic neuropathy, the loss of sensation often first noticed in feet. Laboratory studies have also indicated that lipoic acid reverses the age-associated decline in the proper functioning of mitochondria. Mitochondria are enclosures located within each cell. They are primarily responsible for energy production.
Improvement of insulin sensitivity in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus after oral administration of alpha-lipoic acid.
Kamenova P. Hormones. 2006.
The purpose of the study was to determine whether oral administration of alpha-lipoic acid improves insulin sensitivity in patients with type 2 diabetes. Twelve patients were treated with oral alpha-lipoic acid, 600 mg twice daily over a period of 4 weeks. Twelve subjects with normal glucose tolerance served as a control group in terms of insulin sensitivity. At the end of the treatment period, insulin sensitivity of diabetic patients was significantly increased: Short-term oral alpha-lipoic acid treatment increases peripheral insulin sensitivity in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Alpha Lipoic acid benefit for diabetic neuropathy
High blood sugar levels for prolonged periods can be toxic to nerves in the body. Diabetics who don’t control their blood sugar eventually start losing sensation in their feet. This is called neuropathy. Other problems follow resulting from damage to various nerves that supply internal organs. Even impotence can result due to loss of nerve sensation in genital organs. However high blood sugar may not be the only culprit leading to neuropathy. Diabetics are usually under high oxidative stress and this probably contributes to their neurological problems.
Several studies indicate that alpha lipoic acid benefits neuropathy in those with diabetes, party due to its actions as an antioxidant, and also by improving the circulation to tiny blood vessels supplying nerve tissue. However, in real life, not everyone with diabetic neuropathy benefits from its use.
The role of alpha-lipoic acid in diabetic polyneuropathy treatment.
Bosn J Basic Med Sci. 2008.
Curative effect of alpha-lipoic acid on peripheral neuropathy in type 2 diabetes: a clinical study.
Zhonghua Yi Xue Za Zhi. 2007.
Benefit of R alpha lipoic acid for eye health
At the University of California in Berkeley, researchers discovered that R alpha lipoic acid protects cultured human retinal pigment cells when the cells were exposed to oxidants. The researchers say, “The present study suggests that the protective effect of R alpha lipoic acid involves multiple pathways and that R alpha lipoic acid could be effective against age-associated increase in oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction in retinal cells.”
We have not come across any reports of alpha lipoic acid causing harm to the liver.
Benefits for memory and mental health
Feeding lipoic acid and acetyl-l-carnitine to old rats improves performance on memory tasks by lowering oxidative damage and improving mitochondrial function.
Influence on thyroid function, a testimonial
I was taking 600 mg of R-Alpha Lipoic Acid per day to reduce a high blood sugar and minimize my risks of developing diabetes (runs in my family – Father, Grandmother, Aunt, Niece all have diabetes). It did reduce my blood sugar levels. However, as I have been subclinical Hypo-Thyroid and taking 50 mcg of Thyroxin (Synthroid) daily for many years, the R-ALA altered my Thyroid Blood levels from prior to current as follows:
Thyroid Blood Levels prior to taking R-ALA
TSH 2.54 ulU/mL
Free T3 (Triiodothyronine) 3 pg/mL
T3 Reverse N/A (Test not taken)
Free T4 1.31 ng/dL
Thyroid Blood Levels after being on 600 mg of R-ALA for 6 months
TSH 0.32 ulU/mL (Too Low)
Free T3 (Triiodothyronine) 3 pg/mL
T3 Reverse 433 pg/mL (Too High)
Free T4 2.08 ng/dL (Too High)
Alpha lipoic acid, by itself, does not have a strong influence on weight loss. But, in combination with hoodia or green tea extracts, could be beneficial for weight loss.
Peripheral artery disease
Effects of alpha-lipoic acid supplementation in peripheral arterial disease: a pilot study.
J Altern Complement Med. 2007
Alpha lipoic acid at 600 mg a day for a 3 month period may offer pain relief during exercise.
Combination of alpha lipoic acid acetyl-l carnitine
These two supplements are excellent antioxidants, but the combination can sometimes be a healthy addition to one’s supplement regimen only if used in low dosages. High amounts of a combination of can lead to restlessness, rapid heart rate and insomnia, which is counterproductive to health and may shorten lifespan rather than increasing longevity.
Acetyl-L-carnitine and alpha-lipoic acid supplementation of aged beagle dogs improves learning in two landmark discrimination tests.
FASEB J. 2007.
Alpha lipoic acid and CoQ10
If the CoQ10 dosage is less than 50 mg, and the alpha lipoic acid is less than 50 mg, then they can be taken together a few days a week. Higher dosages could cause insomnia.
Combination of alpha lipoic acid acetyl-l carnitine skin cream and oral supplements
Many nutritional skin products contain a combination of alpha lipoic acid and DMAE and are promoted as anti-aging skin creams. These two supplements are excellent antioxidants, and perhaps could be helpful to skin health, but more research is needed.
High amounts of a combination of alpha lipoic acid and DMAE can lead to restlessness, anxiety, rapid heart rate and insomnia, which is counterproductive to health and may shorten lifespan rather than increasing longevity.
Tablet versus capsules
Is there a difference in benefit by taking an alpha lipoic acid tablet versus capsules?
They are both equivalent for practical purposes.