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Alpha-lipoic acid

Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is a powerful antioxidant compound found mostly in the mitochondria of our cells. The mitochondrion is responsible for the production and storage of energy (in the form of adenosine triphosphate, ATP). The mitochondrion is where the very important citric acid cycle takes place. During this process, carbohydrates, proteins and fats are broken down into carbon dioxide and water with the help of oxygen, while energy (ATP) is produced. ALA plays a key role in this process, helping two enzymes (namely pyruvate dehydrogenase and alpha-ketogluterate dehydrogenase) to break down carbohydrates and fats.  

It is best known for its effect on mitochondria, but a growing body of research is demonstrating the antioxidant effects of ALA. It has been used to treat radioactivity-induced wounds and has also been shown to be effective in recovering from oxygen deprivation (ischaemia) and may improve the treatment of type 2 diabetes. ALA has been shown in several studies to reduce levels of inflammatory markers in the blood.

Broadly speaking, antioxidants are enzymes, molecules that play an important role in protecting against molecules (free radicals) that damage cells

The antioxidant effect of ALA can be explained on the one hand by the fact that the structure of the second enzyme mentioned (alpha-ketogluterate dehydrogenase) is more vulnerable to oxidative stress, so if this enzyme is damaged, the energy balance of the cell is disrupted and more free radicals are produced, but if ALA can stimulate the function of this enzyme, the process can be restored.

Because ALA stimulates the breakdown process, it can also be beneficial in the fat loss process. In line with this, there have been studies that have interestingly also reported on the effects of ALA in reducing hunger. Hence, it is a popular ingredient in fat burners.