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NMU 317 – Alpha Lipoic Acid Supplementation Shown to Support Kidney Function and Reverse Some Kidney Damage

Nutrition/Natural Medicine Update No 317 (April 17, 2024)

with Dr. James Meschino

Topic: Alpha Lipoic Acid Supplementation Shown to Support Kidney Function and Reverse Some Kidney Damage

Source: J Nutrients (2023)


The kidneys are an organ that are highly vulnerable to the aging process. Studies show that annual decrease in kidney function is about 1% year. As people age this often leads to chronic kidney disease, which is accelerated by increased free radical damage to the kidneys and conditions like diabetes. Currently 14% of the US population has chronic kidney disease, which often sets you on a path towards the need for dialysis treatment or a kidney transplant, in order to stay alive.  A large segment of the population is now over 65, which puts them in the super high-risk years for developing chronic kidney disease, not to mention the fact that type 2 diabetes is (which is very much on the rise) is also a major risk for chronic kidney disease, regardless of the person’s age (1,2). Studies have also shown that a healthy diet and lifestyle can help to preserve kidney function as we age and even reverse some kidney damage that has already occurred.  These strategies include remaining at a healthy weight, and not consuming excess protein, phosphate, or sodium, increasing daily water intake, exercising regularly, and eating foods that help keep cholesterol in the ideal range (3).

In addition to this, a brilliant review paper was published in the Journal Nutrients in April 2023, in which the authors reviewed all the available evidence showing the importance of alpha lipoic acid supplementation in preserving kidney function as we age and helping to reverse some kidney damage that may already have been caused be diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), iron overload, cadmium-induced kidney damage and kidney damage from chemotherapy drugs like cisplatin. The authors point out that experimental studies show that alpha-lipoic acid protects kidney cells and allows healing of some kidney cells by acting as a powerful kidney cell antioxidant, regenerating other antioxidants within kidney cells (Vitamins C and E), chelating and removing excess zinc, copper and iron from kidney cells, and reducing kidney cell inflammation (by decreasing release of NF-kb and inflammatory cytokines) (4) The human body normally makes alpha-lipoic acid, but as we age our body’s make significantly less of this vitamin-like substance. Studies have shown that taking a supplement containing alpha-lipoic acid can restore more youthful levels to our blood, tissues, and organs (including our kidneys), helping to slow and reverse some key aspects of the aging process (5,6). Remember too, that alpha-lipoic acid is also a critical cofactor for energy production in virtually all cells of the body. Many people report having more energy when they start taking a supplement containing appreciable amounts of alpha-lipoic acid.

Some studies show that N-acetylcysteine (NAC) also helps protect kidney function and reverse some kidney damage. NAC also helps to enhance our antioxidant defence against free radicals and exerts other important health benefits. So, NAC and alpha-lipoic acid appear to work synergistically to slow age-related changes and support kidney function as we age. By age 40, I think that most people should do what I do, and that is to take a supplement each day that contains alpha-lipoic acid, along with N-acetylcysteine, Milk thistle and L-glutamine. These four nutrients work together to help preserve our antioxidant defences and protect various tissues within our body, including our kidneys.

I have included the references for alpha-lipoic acid in the text below.



  1. Chronic Kidney Disease in the United States, 2023
  2. Li G, Chen Y et al. Association between age-related decline of kidney function and plasma malondialdehyde. Rejuvenation Res. 2012, 15(3): 257-264.
  3. Rav N and Reddy P. H. Structural and physiological changes of the kidney with age and its impact on chronic conditions and COVID-19. Ageing Res Rev. 2023, 88: 101932
  4. Kamt S.F., Liu J and Yan L.J. Renal protective roles of lipoic acid in kidney disease. Nutrients, 2023, 15(7): 1732
  5. Reducing Aging Markers with Lipoic Acid. Life Extension Magazine (August 2023).
  6. Sethumadhaven S, Chinnakannu P. L-Carnitine and Alph-Lipoic Acid improve age-associated decline in mitochondrial respiratory chain activity of the rat heart muscle. Gerontology. 2006, 7: 650-659.


Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,
Dr. Meschino

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