Alpha Lipoic Acid

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Latest Edit: Iva Lloyd, ND 2016-11-11 (EDT)

See Also Food Supplements

Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), also called thioctic acid, is produced by humans and is also found in a wide variety of foods. It has many functions including antioxidant activity; acting as a cofactor for certain mitochondrial enzymes, promoting the regeneration of other antioxidant such as vitamin E, C, and glutathione. Furthermore, ALA has the capacity to chelate certain metals, and has been shown to inhibit copper-and iron-induced oxidative damage in vitro.[1]

Food Sources

Sources of lipoic include: tomatoes, dark green leafy vegetables, including spinach and collard greens; broccoli; animal foods such as beef steak; and organ meats such as calf's liver. It is also found in brewers yeast.


ALA has been found to be useful in preventing and/or treating the following:[1]

  • burning mouth syndrome
  • taste disorders
  • diabetes
  • hepatitis
  • myopathy
  • vitiligo
  • Amanita phalloides mushroom poisoning

Prescribing Considerations

The most commonly used dosage range for ALA is 200-600 mg/day of the racemic mixture, with the larger amounts taken in 2-3 divided doses per day.[1]


Alpha Lipoic Acid is generally considered safe. The only safety concerns with ALA intake include:[1]

  • General adverse effects:
  • A few reported side effects include allergic skin reactions, gastrointestinal symptoms, and hypoglycemia in diabetics.
  • Drug interactions:
  • ALA administration of 1,200 mg/day in divided doses for 12 weeks has been found to reverse weight gain induced by treatment with atypical antipsychotic drugs.
  • Nutrient interactions:
  • ALA has been found to chelate copper and to increase urinary copper excretion in patients with Wilson's disease.
  • There may occasions when ALA is contraindicated with Turmeric (Curcuma longa)


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Gaby, AR (2011) Nutritional Medicine. Fritz Perlberg Publishing.