Many of you may not have heard of Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA), but it’s one antioxidant to make a note of. ALA is more than just another hot new supplement you can buy over the counter at your local health foods store. It is indispensable to the proper workings of the human body.
As children, everyone of our cells produces large quantities of ALA. Glucose is prepared for energy production in the cell, but without ALA, fuel can’t enter the mitochondria and no energy can be produced.
Unfortunately, as we age we make less and less of this potent antioxidant. ALA is available in our brain fluids, the blood, stored fat, the heart, the pancreas, the kidneys, bone, cartilage, liver and every cell in every organ. It prevents free radical damage, which lets face it, living with toxins is a part of our industrialized society. “Today humans are exposed to more toxic chemicals than at any other time in their evolution on this planet…” (Berkson, B., “The Alpha Lipoic Acid Breakthrough”, p. 3.)
The unique thing about this molecule is that it recycles other antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E and glutathione (another incredible antioxidant that we lose with age, toxins and chronic illness). We are learning more about how these antioxidants work in the cell. Transcription factors is a term that mainly biologists and immunologists only know. These transcription factors are proteins that communicate to our genetic material. They facilitate gene expression. For example, a viral infection may stimulate transcription factors to trigger genes to code the production of interferon that helps protect other cells from viral infection. Free radicals and other toxins may cause transcription factors to trigger a series of genetic reactions that result perhaps in cancer.
ALA appears to have the ability to modify gene expression through its influence on transcription factors. Pretty exciting stuff! As a matter of fact, there has been research looking more closely on how most, if not all antioxidants play a role in stabilizing transcription factors and modifying the signaling of genes. ALA can neutralize harmful chemicals that trigger the expression of certain genes that causes chronic illness and even cancer.
Alpha Lipoic Acid has many uses in our toxic world. It protects against heart disease, liver disease and the complications of diabetes. It can also prevent the progression of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and protect against cancer and strokes. We can’t change the genes we’ve inherited, but we can modify their expression. The future of our health and the quality of our lives is primarily up to us and the choices we make. It’s the quality of our lifestyle and the small decisions we make day to day that brings about the biggest changes. Eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, limit your exposure of toxins in and outside of your home, get plenty of sunshine, use supplementation wisely and relieve stress. I know we’ve heard it all before, but as we all know, it’s much easier said then done. There are some antioxidants that we just can’t get enough of in our foods to protect us from the effects of day-to-day stresses and to protect us from the development of disease. I recommend a good multivitamin (with a good B-complex), coenzyme Q10, magnesium, vitamin C, and alpha lipoic acid.
For more information about Alpha lipoic acid: Berkson, B., “The Alpha Lipoic Acid Breakthrough,” 1998. Prima Health.