In the past year or so I've added lipoic acid to my antioxidant stack. Lipoic acid is also a potent antioxidant and in a recent review paper has been shown to have significant neuroprotective effects. Lipoic acid not only acts as a potent antioxidant but it also regenerates through redox cycling other antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin E, and raises intracellular glutathione levels.
What Are 'Glutathione Levels'?
Thiols are central to antioxidant defense in all body tissues. The most important thiol antioxidant, glutathione, unless specially prepared, cannot be directly administered, whereas alpha-lipoic acid (another thiol) can.
A study presented at the FASEB meeting showed that dietary lipoate enhanced glutathione reserves and strengthened the endogenous antioxidant system in rats and thus helped reduce the oxidative stress of exercise... anyone who exercises should be taking antioxidants, both to fight the oxidative stress of exercise and to decrease disease and allay ageing.
"...anyone who exercises should be taking antioxidants, both to fight the oxidative stress of exercise and to decrease disease and allay ageing."
Besides it's antioxidant effects, lipoic acid has many properties that make it a useful supplement for those who exercise. First of all it seems to have some insulogenic properties and has been used to reduce the signs of diabetic neuropathy and to enhance glucose disposal in patients with noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Lipoic acid seems to increase glucose and amino acid uptake in muscle cells while at the same time decreases glucose production by the liver and may also decrease glucose uptake by fat cells.
The end result may be increased protein synthesis and decreased fat storage. Lipoic acid (thioctic acid) is a cofactor in the transacylation reactions catalyzed by the various -keto acid dehydrogenase complexes. These multienzyme complexes play a central role in carbohydrate metabolism and the Krebs cycle. So it's not unexpected that lipoic acid has also been found to increase phosphocreatine (PCr) levels in patients with mitochondrial cytopathies.
How Can Lipoic Acid Help You?
In a study a few years back the use of lipoic acid resulted in subjective improvement of general conditions and muscle performance after therapy. In this study treatment with 600 mg of lipoic acid daily for 1 month resulted in a 55% increase of brain PCr and a 72% increase of phosphorylation potential.
The results of this study indicate that treatment with lipoate caused a relevant increase in levels of energy available in brain and skeletal muscle during exercise. The effect on energy metabolism, coupled with lipoic acid's potent antioxidant properties (and possible neuroprotective effects) and its beneficial effects on insulin resistance, makes lipoic acid an attractive supplement for those who want to maximize their lean body mass and strength, minimize body fat, and avoid overtraining. The bottom line is that anyone who exercises should be taking antioxidants, both to fight the oxidative stress of exercise and to decrease disease and allay ageing.