Lipoic acid, a sulphur based compound, would have to be one of the most intriguing and unique vitamins known to man. Since its discovery in 1951, lipoic acid (also known as thioctic acid) has been shown to treat diabetes, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s, asthma, heavy metal toxicity, inflammation, insulin resistance, kidney damage, nerve damage, liver damage, heart disease, arthritis, poor memory, stroke, vision problems, renal failure, Parkinson’s disease, and more!
The secret to its staggering ability to treat pretty much “whatever ails ya”, is the ability of this vitamin to be both water soluble and fat soluble, plus, have the ability to ‘renew and recycle’ other antioxidants. You see first of all, vitamins are either water soluble (e.g. Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, and C) or fat soluble (e.g. Vitamin A, D, E, and K), which limits the vitamins’ effectiveness in certain areas of the body – depending whether it is a water or fat environment. Lipoic acid therefore has the ability to cross over wherever the body needs it, including the blood/brain barrier! Secondly, lipoic acid has the capability turn ‘used’ antioxidants (e.g. Vitamin E and C) into ‘available’ antioxidants for the body to use again – in other words, giving them a second life.
Here are just a few of its facts:
- Only known antioxidant that is both water and fat soluble
- Clinical studies have shown lipoic acid to be kidney protective
- Significantly reduces symptoms of diabetic neuropathy
- Improves insulin sensitivity – improves blood sugar control
- Increases immune function – by increasing T lymphocyte production
- Improves energy production – via the ATP pathways
- Supports the elimination of heavy metals – increased chelation (=binding) of heavy metals in the liver
- Supports mitochondrial function – the energy power houses found mainly within the muscles
- Food sources: broccoli, brewer’s yeast, brussels sprouts, rice bran, egg yolk, spinach, potatoes, and animal liver, heart, and kidneys (though requires supplementation for therapeutic effects)
Now before you race off to purchase some, there is just one matter to make sure you have right, and that is making sure you buy the correct type. You see there are three different forms of lipoic acid, and the differences are quite dramatic.
- Choice 1 – R-Lipoic Acid: this is the best form, because it is the naturally occurring form of lipoic acid
- Choice 2 – Alpha Lipoic Acid: this is the second best form, because it contains a 50:50 blend of the naturally occurring form (R-Lipoic Acid) and the synthetic form (S-Lipoic Acid)
- Choice 3 – S-Lipoic Acid: This is the least effective form, containing only the synthetic variety
So Which One to Buy?
Well it is always best to get the most natural and most active form – studies have shown that the naturally occurring form is 50% more active – though for treatment purposes I have found the blend still very effective. With quality, of course, comes an increased price, though you need to weigh that up yourself with the benefit of it having more therapeutic value. Again I myself use both (choice 1 & choice 2). I would avoid straight S-Lipoic Acid however, even though it still has some therapeutic value. Please check the labels before purchasing, and also note, that the majority of all clinical trials done on lipoic acid have used 50:50 blend (choice 2).
It is always wise when taking any supplementation to consult your health professional beforehand. For example, diabetics on insulin need to be monitored, as lipoic acid can reduce blood sugar levels quickly. Even though this is great, it still needs to be monitored with regular blood glucose checks.
Therapeutic Dosage Range
- R-form: 200-600mg a day
- Blend: 400-600mg a day
- S-form: 400-800mg a day
So in closing, you could say this is the perfect nutrient for those with kidney disease/failure caused by diabetes, cardiovascular problems, immune dysfunction, and heavy metals… which statistically accounts for the majority kidney disease sufferers. However, even if your kidney disease is caused by another factor, make sure lipoic acid becomes your new best friend, as the benefits are amazing!