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ALA Supplement: Its Benefits for Diabetes & Beyond

Have you ever heard of alpha-lipoic acid (ALA)? It’s a natural antioxidant that’s found in foods like organ meats (especially liver) and brewer’s yeast. ALA is pretty amazing because it helps protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals [1]- and, in recent years, scientists have found it very beneficial for things like diabetes and metabolic syndrome (btw, if you want to learn about supplements for insulin resistance specifically, I recently did a post on them – check it out after this one).

But did you know that ALA is also available as a dietary supplement? That’s right! And it’s been gaining popularity due to its significant potential health benefits + the easy administration (you don’t need an IV to get your ALA in, ALA supplements are affordable and available as over-the-counter tablets). People who struggle with diabetes should definitely look into ALA, as alpha-lipioc acid has been shown to treat diabetic neuropathy, but also slow down the development of metabolic syndrome. [2]

If you’re interested in taking an ALA supplement, you might be wondering which one is the best for you. Well, you’re in luck because we’re here to explore the world of ALA supplements together.

We’ll dive into the benefits of ALA and how it can potentially improve your health. We’ll also discuss how to choose the right supplement for your needs. So, let’s get started and learn all about ALA supplements!

What is ALA?

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ALA stands for Alpha-Lipoic Acid, which is a fatty acid that is essential for the production of energy in the body. This means that without ALA, our bodies would not be able to generate the energy we need to carry out our daily activities.

Now, you may be wondering where ALA comes from. The body actually synthesizes small amounts of ALA on its own inside the mitochondria. In there, ALA is an essential co-factor (a chemical aid to your enzymes) for breaking down nutrients. [3] Alpha-lipoic acid can also be obtained through dietary sources such as red meat, organ meats, and some yeasts, especially brewers’ yeast.

But ALA is not just any ordinary fatty acid. It has unique properties that make it stand out from other antioxidants – it has already been successfully tested in treating some of the most dangerous chronic conditions in humans. Since ALA is able to neutralize free radicals in cells it can help prevent and repair conditions caused by oxidative stress. Research has shown it beneficial in potentially deadly conditions like ischemia-reperfusion and radiation injury. [4]

Even better, ALA has specifically shown promise in treating a major consequence of diabetes – diabetic neuropathy. In diabetic patients, the blood vessel walls can stiffen and harden, meaning less blood reaches organs. These changes in microcirculation also bring about diabetic neuropathy. How can ALA help? Research seems to show ALA helps dilate blood vessels, which allows more blood to flow and for the nerve damage to be reduced. [2]

To recap, ALA is an important fatty acid that plays a crucial role in energy production in our bodies. It also has unique antioxidant properties that make it valuable for protecting our cells – whether we’re suffering from a chronic condition or want to be protected from it. With this in mind, it’s really no wonder ALA supplements are growing in popularity and getting recommended to a larger community of people than ever before.

Benefits of ALA Supplements

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Now, let’s get to the main question. What is it that ALA supplements can do for you?

Well, the good news is we know quite a bit about ALA – its properties have been extensively studied by researchers, and some of the most notable benefits include:

  • Antioxidant Properties: ALA acts as an antioxidant and can neutralize free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause damage to cells and contribute to the development of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and arthritis. [1] Currently, the research has focused on acute free radical damage and diabetic neuropathy, but the compound is also being considered for research in fields like HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular conditions, and malignancies.
  • Anti-inflammatory Properties: ALA has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce inflammation throughout the body. Chronic inflammation is a common underlying factor in many chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. When alpha-lipoic acid was taken with avocado or soybean unsaponifiables, researchers found it reduced prostaglandin E-2 production, which is a key compound in inflammation. [5] ALA also stops the activation of other pro-inflammatory compounds, which makes it a key step blocker for inflammation. [6]
  • Uses in Diabetes: The higher blood sugar levels in people with diabetes put them at risk for diabetic neuropathy. One of the worst types of neuropathy you can experience if you’re a type 1 or type 2 diabetes patient is retinopathy – and oxidative stress has been shown to have an impact in its development [7]. The good news for diabetes and ALA? It can actually improve the symptoms of an already developped retinopathy – basically, it can reverse the complication. [8]

Taking an ALA dietary supplement can provide significant benefits beyond what can be obtained from dietary sources – from preventing inflammation to reducing the impact of harmful free radicals. While it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplements, most people can definitely experience the potential benefits of ALA. Incorporating an ALA supplement into your healthy lifestyle could offer antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and neuroprotective benefits.

So, if you’re looking to enhance your overall health and well-being, consider adding an ALA supplement to your daily routine. Now, let’s discuss choosing the right one for you:

Choosing the Best ALA Supplement

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If you’re considering taking an Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA) supplement, there are several things to keep in mind to ensure you’re choosing the right one for you.

First and foremost, quality is key. Look for a reputable brand that uses high-quality ingredients and has undergone third-party testing to ensure purity and potency. This can help ensure that you’re getting a supplement that will be effective and safe to use.

Next, it’s important to consider the dosage of the ALA supplement you’re interested in taking. These supplements typically come in doses ranging from 100mg to 600mg, and the appropriate dosage can vary depending on your individual health status and goals. Consulting with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen can help you determine the best dosage for you.

Keep in mind that in research, ALA has been tested as a 300 mg oral supplement over the course of 3 months [8] – and this is the level at which is began reversing diabetic neuropathy symptoms. There have been additional studies with daily IV supplementation, but this is neither practical, nor safe outside of a hospital setting.

In general, sticking to around 300mg is a good rule of thumb.

As for toxicity, one study says you can take up to 2400 mg in a day without significant risks [9] – but, this isn’t a comprehensive safety evaluation. Taking more ALA won’t give you more benefits. It can, however, have unexpected health consequences. So, stick to the lower doses – you have everything to win and nothing to lose by going that route.

Lastly, ALA supplements come in various forms, such as capsules, tablets, and powders. When choosing a form, consider which one will be the most convenient and easy for you to take consistently.

There aren’t any limitations in terms of food and drink you can take ALA with. Still, avoid heavy meals right before and right after you supplement. A good time to take your daily supplements is in the morning with a glass of water.

By keeping these factors in mind, you can make an informed decision and choose an ALA supplement that will help support your health and wellness goals.

Top ALA Supplements

If you’re looking to add alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) supplements to your diet, here are some of the best options available on the market:

  • Doctor’s Best Alpha-Lipoic Acid: This supplement is made with high-quality ingredients and contains 600mg of ALA per capsule. While this is higher than the tested 300mg per day, it’s still well within the safe range and each dose provides a potent dose of ALA to support overall health. The higher dose also means even if you skip a day, you’re still getting some of the benefits (avoid doing this long-term, though, it’s best to get a smaller but consistent dose every day. )
  • Jarrow Formulas Alpha Lipoic Sustain: This supplement is designed for sustained release, which means that it slowly releases ALA over time. This allows for maximum absorption and effectiveness, ensuring that your body gets the most out of each dose. And, unlike Doctor’s Best, this is right at the 300mg dose and it comes with an additional antioxidant ingredient, biotin.
  • Life Extension Super R-Lipoic Acid Supplement: Though the dose here is lower (240mg), this supplement contains stabilizied r-ala supplement, which is the active, easy to absorb version of alpha lipoic acid.

Overall, these three supplements are some of the best ALA supplements available on the market. By adding them to your diet, you can support your overall health and wellbeing. However, before starting any new supplement regimen, it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider to ensure that it’s safe for you to do so.


Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is a powerful antioxidant that has numerous potential health benefits. It can neutralize free radicals in the body, which are unstable molecules that can damage cells and contribute to aging and diseases. By doing so, ALA may help protect against oxidative stress and inflammation.

In addition to its antioxidant properties, ALA may also help improve insulin sensitivity, which can be beneficial for people with diabetes or metabolic syndrome. Some studies have also suggested that ALA may help protect against nerve damage and improve symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.

Moreover, ALA has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, which may be helpful in reducing inflammation and pain associated with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.

ALA is found in small amounts in some foods, but it can also be taken as a dietary supplement. However, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen.

In summary, ALA is a potent antioxidant with potential health benefits, including neutralizing free radicals, improving insulin sensitivity, protecting against nerve damage, and reducing inflammation.


Q1. Can ALA supplements cause any side effects?

A1. ALA supplements are generally safe when taken as directed. However, some individuals may experience side effects such as stomach upset, nausea, and skin rash.

Q2. Is it safe to take ALA supplements with other medications?

A2. It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before taking ALA supplements with other medications, as it may interact with some medications such as chemotherapy drugs and thyroid medication.

Q3. Can ALA supplements help with weight loss?

A3. While ALA supplements have not been shown to directly promote weight loss, they may improve slow down oxidative conditions like metabolic syndrome and in this way potentially aid in weight management. However, it’s important to remember that supplements should not be relied upon as the sole method for weight loss.


  1. Packer L, Witt EH, Tritschler HJ. alpha-Lipoic acid as a biological antioxidant. Free Radic Biol Med. 1995 Aug;19(2):227-50.
  2. Vallianou N, Evangelopoulos A, Koutalas P. Alpha-lipoic Acid and diabetic neuropathy. Rev Diabet Stud. 2009 Winter;6(4):230-6.
  3. Packer L, Cadenas E. Lipoic acid: energy metabolism and redox regulation of transcription and cell signaling. J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2011 Jan;48(1):26-32.
  4. Packer L, Witt EH, Tritschler HJ. alpha-Lipoic acid as a biological antioxidant. Free Radic Biol Med. 1995 Aug;19(2):227-50.
  5. Frondoza CG, Fortuno LV, Grzanna MW, Ownby SL, Au AY, Rashmir-Raven AM. α-Lipoic Acid Potentiates the Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Avocado/Soybean Unsaponifiables in Chondrocyte Cultures. Cartilage. 2018 Jul;9(3):304-312.
  6. Li G, Fu J, Zhao Y, Ji K, Luan T, Zang B. Alpha-lipoic acid exerts anti-inflammatory effects on lipopolysaccharide-stimulated rat mesangial cells via inhibition of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) signaling pathway. Inflammation. 2015 Apr;38(2):510-9.
  7. Adamis AP. Is diabetic retinopathy an inflammatory disease? British Journal of Ophthalmology. 2002;86(4):363–365.
  8. Gębka A, Serkies-Minuth E, Raczyńska D. Effect of the administration of alpha-lipoic acid on contrast sensitivity in patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Mediators Inflamm. 2014;2014:131538. doi: 10.1155/2014/131538. Epub 2014 Feb 10. PMID: 24665163; PMCID: PMC3934387.
  9. Cremer DR, Rabeler R, Roberts A, Lynch B. Safety evaluation of alpha-lipoic acid (ALA). Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2006 Oct;46(1):29-41.

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