Alpha-Lipoic Acid


Alpha-lipoic acid is a vitamin-like chemical called an antioxidant. Yeast, liver, kidney, spinach, broccoli, and potatoes are good sources of alpha-lipoic acid. It is also made in the laboratory for use as medicine.

Alpha-lipoic acid is most commonly taken by mouth for diabetes and nerve-related symptoms of diabetes including burning, pain, and numbness in the legs and arms. It is also given as an injection into the vein (by IV) for these same uses. High doses of alpha-lipoic acid are approved in Germany for the treatment of these nerve-related symptoms.


Is a Form of:

Vitamin-like Chemical

Primary Functions:


Also Known As:

A-Lipoic Acid, Acetate Replacing Factor, Acide Alpha-Lipoïque

How Does It Work?

Alpha-lipoic acid seems to help prevent certain kinds of cell damage in the body, and also restores vitamin levels such as vitamin E and vitamin C. There is also evidence that alpha-lipoic acid can improve the function and conduction of neurons in diabetes.

Alpha-lipoic acid is used in the body to break down carbohydrates and to make energy for the other organs in the body.

Alpha-lipoic acid seems to work as an antioxidant, which means that it might provide protection to the brain under conditions of damage or injury. The antioxidant effects might also be helpful in certain liver diseases.


  • Diabetes. Taking alpha-lipoic acid by mouth or intravenously seems to improve blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. However, there is other evidence that shows it does not affect blood sugar. Reasons for these differences may be the length of time that the patient has been diagnosed with diabetes, whether or not the patient already uses antidiabetes drugs, or the purity of the alpha-lipoic acid treatment. Alpha-lipoic acid does not appear to improve blood sugar levels in people with type 1 diabetes.
  • Nerve pain in people with diabetes (diabetic neuropathy). Taking 600-1800 mg of alpha-lipoic acid by mouth or by IV seems to improve symptoms such as burning, pain, and numbness in the legs and arms of people with diabetes. It may take 3 to 5 weeks of treatment for symptoms to improve. Lower doses of alpha-lipoic acid don't seem to work.
  • High levels of cholesterol or other fats (lipids) in the blood (hyperlipidemia). Taking alpha-lipoic acid for up to 16 weeks seems to lower total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol in people with or without hyperlipidemia.
  • Obesity. Some research shows that taking alpha-lipoic acid for 8-48 weeks can slightly reduce body weight in adults who are overweight. But early research shows that alpha-lipoic acid doesn't seem to improve body weight in children who are overweight or obese.

Recommended Dosing

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:



  • For diabetes and improving symptoms of nerve pain in people with diabetes: 300-1800 mg of alpha-lipoic acid per day.
  • For high levels of cholesterol or other fats (lipids) in the blood (hyperlipidemia): 300-1200 mg of alpha-lipoic acid per day for up to 16 weeks.
  • For obesity: 1800 mg of alpha-lipoic acid per day has been taken for 20 weeks.


  • For diabetes and improving symptoms of nerve pain in people with diabetes: 500-1200 mg of alpha-lipoic acid per day administered by a health care provider.



  • For diabetes: 300 mg of alpha-lipoic acid has been taken twice daily in combination with insulin.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid Supplements Frequently Asked Questions

What is alpha lipoic acid used for?

Alpha-lipoic acid is most commonly taken by mouth for diabetes and nerve-related symptoms of diabetes including burning, pain, and numbness in the legs and arms. It is also given as an injection into the vein (by IV) for these same uses.

What are the side effects of taking alpha lipoic acid?

Alpha-lipoic acid side effects

low blood sugar--headache, hunger, weakness, sweating, confusion, irritability, dizziness, fast heart rate, or feeling jittery; or. a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out.

What is the best source of alpha lipoic acid?

Alpha-lipoic acid is a natural protective antioxidant. Many foods have alpha-lipoic acid in very low amounts. They include spinach, broccoli, yams, potatoes, yeast, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, carrots, beets, and rice bran. Red meat -- particularly organ meat -- is also a source of alpha-lipoic acid.

How much alpha lipoic acid should you take a day?

Because alpha-lipoic acid is an unproven treatment, there is no established dose. However, studies have used between 600-1,800 milligrams daily for diabetes and neuropathy; one review concluded that the evidence is convincing for the use of 600 milligrams daily for three weeks on symptoms of diabetic neuropathy.

What is the best time to take alpha lipoic acid?

Alpha-lipoic supplements are best taken on an empty stomach, as certain foods can lower the acid's bioavailability (40). Though there is no set dosage, most evidence suggests that 300–600 mg is sufficient and safe.

What foods are high in lipoic acid?

They include spinach, broccoli, yams, potatoes, yeast, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, carrots, beets, and rice bran. Red meat -- particularly organ meat -- is also a source of alpha-lipoic acid.

Can you take alpha lipoic acid long term?

Alpha-lipoic acid is a natural protective antioxidant that's found in foods and made by our bodies. There's some early evidence that long-term use of alpha-lipoic acid might help with the symptoms of dementia. Other studies suggest that an alpha-lipoic acid cream might help skin damage related to aging.

Does alpha lipoic acid boost immune system?

In conclusion, ALA, a natural ingredient of human body, not only acts as a powerful antioxidant but also is able to regulate the immune system in either direct or indirect ways. Studies reviewed above might suggest that ALA is used to treat autoimmune diseases including SLE, RA, and primary vasculitis as well as MS.

Is alpha lipoic acid bad for your liver?

Taking alpha-lipoic acid daily for up to 6 months does not improve liver function or reduce liver damage in people with alcohol-related liver disease. Altitude sickness.

Does alpha lipoic acid help with nerve pain?

Studies also found that alpha-lipoic acid supplements can help with neuropathy -- nerve damage -- caused by diabetes or cancer treatment. They seem to reduce symptoms like pain, tingling, and prickling in the feet and legs.

Can alpha lipoic acid cause smelly urine?

A high dosage of ALA may cause a strong sulfur-like smell in the urine, much as asparagus does. This odor appears to harmless. Alpha lipoic acid is not recommended for use by children or pregnant or nursing women.

Can alpha lipoic acid raise blood pressure?

Although several animal and human studies have investigated the effect of alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) on blood pressure (BP), these findings are inconsistent.  Most of the papers show no significant effect for supplementation and the studies have shown that associations are limited.

Is alpha lipoic acid good for the kidney?

All the parameters above were improved in the α-lipoic acid-treated diabetic group. Oxidative stress is increased in the kidney of type 2 diabetic GK rats. It is associated with the progression of diabetic nephropathy. α-lipoic acid can protect renal function in diabetic rats via its antioxidant activity.

Is alpha lipoic acid good for inflammation?

Alpha-Lipoic Acid

It plays a key role in metabolism and energy production. It also functions as an antioxidant, protecting your cells from damage and helping restore levels of other antioxidants, like vitamins C and E. Alpha-lipoic acid also reduces inflammation.

Can alpha lipoic acid damage kidneys?

Oxidative stress mediated by reactive oxygen species (ROS) is believed to be the cause of diabetic kidney damage (nephropathy). ROS can damage proteins, lipids, and DNA. Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA is an antioxidant which has been shown to aid in prevention of diabetic nephropathy.

Should I take alpha lipoic acid on an empty stomach?

Some people take ALA supplements with the intent to improve a variety of health conditions. Studies show that about 30% to 40% of the oral dose of an ALA supplement is absorbed. ALA may be better absorbed if it is taken on an empty stomach.

Can alpha lipoic acid cause reflux?

Three of the 15 subjects (one at 600 mg, one at 800 mg, and three at 1,200 mg) experienced upper GI side effects, including acid reflux, nausea, and stomach discomfort. Another subject also described a generalized “flushing sensation”, which could be related to acid reflux at the 800 mg and 1,200 mg doses.

Is alpha lipoic acid good for arthritis?

Objective: Although many studies have considered alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) as a potent antioxidant with anti-inflammatory functions in oxidative stress–associated inflammatory diseases, few studies have evaluated its efficacy in rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Is alpha lipoic acid good for thyroid?

Antioxidant selenium and alpha lipoic acid

Not only is selenium essential for normal thyroid function via its contribution to the deiodination enzymes involved in converting T4 to the active thyroid hormone T3, low selenium concentrations have been found to cause autoimmune processes in the thyroid gland.

Does alpha lipoic acid deplete biotin?

Humans have lost the ability to synthesize biotin which is why it is classified as a vitamin but our gut flora can produce it possibly in response to lipoic acid consumption. So rather than depleting the biotin dependent enzymes, lipoic acid might stimulate our gut flora to produce it thus preventing any deficiencies.

Does alpha lipoic acid make you tired?

Taking alpha-lipoic acid may lower your blood sugar. Tell your doctor, pharmacist, herbalist, or other healthcare provider if you have symptoms such as hunger, weakness, nausea, irritability, dizziness, headache, blurred vision, confusion, sweating, fast heart rate, or fainting.

Can you take alpha lipoic acid with other vitamins?

What should I avoid while taking alpha-lipoic acid? Avoid using alpha-lipoic acid together with other herbal/health supplements that can also lower your blood sugar. This includes devil's claw, fenugreek, garlic, guar gum, horse chestnut, Panax ginseng, psyllium, and Siberian ginseng.

What are the health benefits of alpha lipoic acid?

The antioxidant properties of alpha-lipoic acid have been linked to several benefits, including lower blood sugar levels, reduced inflammation, slowed skin aging, and improved nerve function. Humans only produce alpha-lipoic acid in small amounts.

Clinical Studies