ALA is also gaining popularity among people with diabetes. Several studies suggest it can lower blood sugar levels and prevent diabetic neuropathy – a type of nerve damage that occurs when high blood sugar injures nerves throughout your body.
Depending on the affected nerves, the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy can range from pain and numbness in your legs and feet to problems with your heart, blood vessels, digestive system and urinary tract. Diabetic neuropathy is a serious complication of diabetes as it can be quite painful and may even lead to the amputation of a toe, foot or leg. It affects up to 50 percent of all diabetics.
ALA is thought to help people with Type 2 diabetes by improving their biological response to sugar and reducing insulin resistance. As an antioxidant, it can fight highly reactive and unstable atoms called free radicals. An imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body can lead to oxidative stress, which can cause chronic inflammation and promote Type 2 diabetes and diabetic neuropathy.
Research also supports the anti-diabetic effects of ALA. In a 2006 study, overweight adults with Type 2 diabetes experienced dramatic improvements in their insulin sensitivity and were able to maintain the improvements in their blood sugar levels after taking ALA supplements for four weeks. Their bodies also metabolized glucose more efficiently.
In a 2012 study, researchers from Thailand recruited individuals with Type 2 diabetes and randomly assigned them to either a placebo or ALA treatment given at doses of 300, 600, 900 or 1,200 milligrams (mg) a day for six months. Fasting and average blood sugar levels decreased as the dose increased in those who took ALA supplements alongside their current diabetes medication.
Moreover, ALA can potentially prevent diabetic neuropathy and reduce symptoms like burning, tingling and pain in the affected part of the body. In one study, more than 300 diabetic patients significantly improved their neuropathy symptoms after five weeks of oral ALA supplementation. (Related: Discover the power of alpha lipoic acid for removing heavy metals, taming diabetes and protecting against Alzheimer's.)
Some studies suggest that intravenous administration of ALA is the most effective for diabetic neuropathy. A 2012 study of 22 patients with Type 2 diabetes found that when administered daily for two weeks, intravenous ALA led to improvements in fasting and average blood sugar levels, insulin sensitivity and total cholesterol levels. Intravenous ALA also improved biomarkers of oxidative stress and inflammation, including measures of tumor necrosis factor, interleukin-6, and malondialdehyde. These biomarkers are typically elevated in diabetics.
The researchers also found a statistical link between insulin sensitivity and each biomarker. They suggested that by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, ALA may increase insulin sensitivity and improve blood sugar and lipid control.
The body produces only small amounts of ALA, so it's important to boost your intake through supplementation or diet. The recommended oral dosage of ALA supplements ranges from 200 to 1,800 mg daily, though research suggests that adults can take up to 2,400 mg without harmful side effects. ALA supplements are best taken on an empty stomach as certain foods can reduce the bioavailability of the ALA.
ALA is a potent anti-diabetic and antioxidant that can help lower your blood sugar levels and prevent diabetic neuropathy. Boost your ALA levels by taking supplements or eating more ALA-rich foods.
Learn more about the health benefits of ALA at Supplements.news.