NMU 171 – Antioxidant Supplement (alpha-lipoic acid) Enhances Weight Loss in Overweight Subjects and Decreases Markers of Inflammation and Free Radical Damage
Lifestyle Medicine Update No 171 (August 26, 2020)
with Dr. James Meschino
Topic: Antioxidant Supplement (alpha-lipoic acid) Enhances Weight Loss in Overweight Subjects and Decreases Markers of Inflammation and Free Radical Damage
Source: Journal of Nutrition (July 2020)
An intriguing human clinical trial was published in the Journal of Nutrition in July 2020. It showed that providing overweight or obese adults with a daily supplement containing 600 mg of alpha-lipoic acid for 24 weeks, reduced their weight, body fat and body mass index, compared to the placebo group. Previous studies have also shown that alpha-lipoic acid can help reduce weight and body fat in overweight adults. So, this study builds on the previous evidence showing that alpha-lipoic acid may be a worthwhile supplement to enhance weight loss in overweight adults, which is summarized in a 2019 review paper published in the journal Biomolecules.
So, what is alpha-lipoic acid? Alpha-lipoic acid is a compound that is normally made by your body throughout your entire life. It is an essential compound that allows your body to convert food into energy. Alpha-lipoic acid is also an antioxidant that protects cells against free radical damage linked to aging. As we age the body’s synthesis of alpha-lipoic acid declines quite substantially, and many experts feel that this is one of the reasons we cannot burn calories as efficiently as we age (which can lead to weight gain) and why we feel like we have less energy as we age. In this study, the participants given the alpha-lipoic acid supplement not only lost more weight and body fat than the placebo group, but they also showed a decrease in blood and urine markers for inflammation, and they showed an increased synthesis of an important cellular antioxidant (heme oxygenase-1), which helps protect our cells against free radical damage linked to aging and certain degenerative diseases. These are very impressive findings as overweight subjects tend to have more inflammation and free radical damage (oxidative stress), which contributes to the development and worsening of pre- diabetes and diabetes, as well as inflamed and painful muscles and joints.
Published studies have also shown that alpha-lipoic acid supplementation can help remove some toxic metals (mercury, cadmium, lead) from the body by acting as a metal chelator. It also helps to regenerate certain antioxidants, including vitamin C, vitamin E and glutathione, and it has been shown to repair some free radical damage within cells. These are some of the reasons that certain individuals take alpha-lipoic acid supplements after the age 40, as one way to slow the aging process and potentially protect the body against the development of certain age- related diseases. In diabetics, alpha-lipoic acid supplementation has improved blood sugar and hemoglobin A1c levels by enhancing the function of insulin receptors on the cells of the body. It has been used therapeutically to improve symptoms of diabetic polyneuropathy. Some mild improvement has also been seen in patients with Multiple Sclerosis when given alpha-lipoic supplements at 1200 mg per day in divided doses. This is likely due to its antioxidant properties and its ability to decrease synthesis of inflammatory cytokines associated with MS. Some experimental research shows that alpha-lipoic acid also blocks some key steps in Alzheimer’s disease development, and early stage experimental research shows that it may also have some anti-cancer benefits as well, by indirectly encouraging emerging cancer cells to commit suicide (apoptosis) and via other mechanisms. However, this has not been tested in human subjects to this point.
For our purposes today, it is worth noting that in addition to diet and lifestyle change, research continues to emerge showing that adding a 600 mg supplement of alpha-lipoic acid to one’s daily routine may further help to reduce body weight, body fat and body mass index in adults who are overweight or obese.
I have included the references for this information in the text below.
Bobe G et al. A randomized controlled trial of long-term (R) – alpha-lipoic acid supplementation promotes weight loss in overweight or obese adults without
altering baseline elevated plasma triglyceride concentrations. The Journal of Nutrition. July 21, 2020
Salehi B et al. Insights on the use of alpha-lipoic acid for therapeutic purposes. Biomolecules. Aug 9 (8): 356. 2019
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