A Powerful Natural Antioxidant for Health and Beauty

Alpha Lipoic Acid – Natural Help for Diabetes and Insulin Resistance

How can alpha lipoic acid help treat or prevent diabetes and insulin resistance?

Diabetes and insulin resistance are conditions related to improper metabolism of blood sugar. Alpha lipoic acid is an important antioxidant naturally produced in the body. It is also a crucial ingredient our cells need to turn the food we eat into energy. Alpha lipoic acid helps regulate the immune system, proteins, and hormones that are involved in metabolism. Studies suggest it may be able to help reduce some of the effects of diabetes and insulin resistance, including diabetic complications. (iv.3464850)

Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes is an escalating health problem in the U.S. Close to 7% of Americans have diabetes, with a 75% increase in adults 30-39 years old from 1990-1998. That percentage is about double for black Americans and almost triple for older Americans. (iv.52)

Over 90% of diabetes cases in the United States are type 2 diabetes. Obesity, a disease an increasing number of Americans suffer from, is a prime risk factor for developing the disease. With obesity rates increasing, experts expect the rates of type 2 diabetes to continue to dramatically rise. (iv.52)

Research shows that alpha lipoic acid can help reduce risk factors for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. This includes diabetes caused by certain types of chemotherapy(iv.2648)

Alpha lipoic acid is especially beneficial in counteracting metabolic syndrome conditions associated to higher rates of type 2 diabetes: (iv.48)

These conditions involve dysfunctional fat and sugar metabolism. Many of alpha lipoic acid's cellular effects help regulate and repair the metabolism of glucose and lipids. (iv.3464850)

If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor about how alpha lipoic acid may help control blood sugar levels.

How Can Alpha Lipoic Acid Help?

Studies show that alpha lipoic acid has a number of effects that can help prevent or treat diabetes and insulin resistance. Many of alpha lipoic acid's effects can also help reduce the risk of developing diabetic complications. (iv.25053-55)

Table IV.8: Alpha Lipoic Acid's Antidiabetic Effects
Alpha Lipoic Acid Activity Why Is This Important?

Downregulates NF-κB. (iv.46)

NF-κB is a transcription factor that regulates genes that help a cell respond to stress (e.g., free radicals and oxidized LDL cholesterol). When it's not properly regulated it can lead to inflammatory conditions and improper immune system response. (iv.46)

Decreases production of AGEs. (iv.56)

Lessens risk of diabetic complications such as: (iv.4657-58)

Reduces AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) in hypothalamus. (iv.3)

  • Helps prevent high cholesterol levels. (iv.3)
  • Counters insulin resistance. (iv.3)

Alpha lipoic acid protects cells from damage caused by high cholesterol. This includes islet cells in the pancreas that produce insulin needed to keep blood sugar levels normal. (iv.4859)

Promotes GLUT4 Glucose transporter. (iv.60)

Improves peripheral glucose use. (iv.61)

Decreases hepatic gluconeogenesis. (iv.61)

Increasing use of glucose by muscles and fat cells and reducing generation of glucose by the liver helps: (iv.60-61)

  • Increase insulin sensitivity.
  • Keep blood sugar levels normal.

Upregulates PGC-1α. (iv.62)

  • Boosts insulin sensitivity. (iv.62)

Triggered by various enzymes, PGC-1α is considered the "master switch" of energy metabolism. It's also involved in making new mitochondria, the organelles in cells that transform the food we eat into cell energy. (iv.63)

Antidiabetic drugs such as pioglitazone, rosiglitazone, and troglitazone also increase PGC-1α. (iv.62)

Increases PPAR-γ. (iv.64)

Boosts PPAR-α. (iv.65)

Inhibits PPAR-δ. (iv.64)

PPARs are proteins that act as transcription factors. They regulate genes involved in metabolism of fat and glucose. Alpha lipoic acid's effects on levels of PPARs could counteract the negative effects of a high carbohydrate/sugar diet. (iv.64-65)

Protects and increases natural antioxidant enzymes. (iv.64)

The liver is also involved in sugar metabolism. Reducing damage from free radicals may help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. (iv.64)

Boosts adiponectin (a beneficial hormone involved in metabolism). (iv.66-67)

  • Promotes PGC-1α, which increases insulin sensitivity. (iv.62)
  • Increases cell energy by helping protect mitochondria function. (iv.63)

The antidiabetic drug rosiglitazone also increases adiponectin. (iv.62)

Complications of Diabetes Are Serious, but Alpha Lipoic Acid Reduces Risk

In addition to the health problems diabetes itself causes, complications from diabetes are common, costly, and often disabling. Fortunately studies suggest alpha lipoic acid could help delay, prevent, or alleviate the symptoms of diabetic complications, including: (iv.52iv.68)

Recommended Dosage

People with diabetes may also have reduced levels of alpha lipoic acid. Naturopaths recommend 300-1200 mg/day for diabetes, and 100-300 mg/day for insulin resistance. (iv.556170-71)

Chemotherapy drugs such as vincristine sulfate and cyclophosphamide. (iv.26)
Also referred to as diabetic cystopathy. (iv.52)
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