What is Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA)
Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is a type of antioxidant found in the human body. In fact, it can be found in the formation of all our cells. It helps our body in the digestion process by turning glucose into the energy we need daily. Like vitamins and other types of organic acids, alpha-lipoic acid can be found in the form of supplements or intravenous injections.
It is believed that alpha-lipoic acid might contribute to improved health and sleep quality. And some people prefer to take alpha-lipoic acid supplements before bed, claiming it helps them get better sleep. But are there any health benefits from taking alpha-lipoic acid before bed?
How is Alpha-Lipoic Acid Different From Other Antioxidants Supplements
Alpha-lipoic acid is very vital to the human body as it basically helps control the blood sugar levels in our cells as well as turn glucose, which is basically the sugar entering the body, into the energy needed to do our daily activities. It’s a type of fatty acid that is important to our cells and body and can only be retrieved through what we feed ourselves; it isn’t secreted by the body on its own.
According to a study published by the National Library of Medicine, the antioxidant’s importance is born from its free radical-killing properties, which may benefit diabetic peripheral neuropathy patients with arm and leg discomfort, burning, itching, tingling, and numbness. Alpha-lipoic acid may also boost insulin sensitivity.
Alpha-lipoic acid is different from other vitamins and antioxidants as they act exclusively in water or fat (such as vitamin E). However, alpha-lipoic acid is both water- and fat-soluble.
Is Alpha-Lipoic Acid Beneficial to our Sleeping Quality?
Given the benefits of how the antioxidant helps reduce blood sugar levels, a study published by the National Library of Medicine suggests that it may in fact assist sleepers in getting a better night's sleep. Taking 1,200 mg of alpha-lipoic acid supplements on an empty stomach before sleeping is recommended.
But if you prefer a more organic way of doing things, you can get the amount of alpha-lipoic acid through more natural means. Plant foods such as broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, and Brussels sprouts have been proven to be good sources of alpha-lipoic acid, as have animal sources like red meat.
So alternatively, you can use plant meals as a quick and light means of acquiring the needed alpha-lipoic acid before sleeping. But it’s recommended to take these meals at least 2 hours before bedtime.
However, further studies are needed to further confirm if alpha-lipoic acid adds to the quality of our sleep.
Alpha Lipoic Acid Pros
Helps in Reducing Blood Sugar Levels.
- Given its antioxidant properties and how it helps turn glucose into sugar, ALA has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control in individuals with type 2 diabetes. This is specifically important for diabetic peripheral neuropathy patients with arm and leg discomfort, burning, itching, tingling, and numbness. As poor or high blood sugar levels can lead to various complications for both nondiabetic and diabetic patients, including nerve damage, kidney damage, and blindness.
Helps Reduce Inflammation
- Inflammation is associated with various health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. We mentioned that ALA is effective in controlling blood sugar levels for people with diabetic conditions, Accordingly, ALA has also been found to have anti-inflammatory effects on the body.
May Help in Better Sleeping Quality
- Since we mentioned how ALA helps reduce inflammation, control blood sugar levels, as well as reducing oxidative stress which is known to disrupt sleep. It’s very logical to accordingly deduct how these properties should assist you in having a healthier sleeping time.
Its supplements are safe, with few side effects.
- While alpha-lipoic acid is generally safe, there are some potential side effects to be aware of. In the next part, we discuss the possible side effects of alpha-lipoic acids.
Alpha Lipoic Acid Cons
Low Blood Sugar
- ALA may drop blood sugar levels too low, especially if you are a diabetic patient. It is very important to monitor blood sugar levels closely before and after taking ALA, both naturally and through supplements, and it’s advised to speak with a healthcare provider before starting supplementation precisely.
- Stomach distress is a common side effect when taking ALA, this may be due to the fact that the stomach absorbs it slowly relative to other antioxidants and supplements. Stomach distress may include nausea, diarrhea, or constipation. These symptoms are usually mild and resolve on their own.
- Skin rash and headaches may also happen when consuming ALA, this might be because of the blood-thinning properties that make it more likely to suffer from excessive bruising and bleeding. This is usually mild and goes away on its own but it can be a sign of an allergic reaction in some cases.
What Are Some Other Benefits of Taking Alpha Lipoic Acid
Some research found that patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) who took ALA supplements for two years lost less brain function than expected. Moreover, ALA may reduce disability ratings and enhance walking performance in people with MS.
Can Alpha-Lipoic Acid Help with Weight Loss?
An initial study showed that alpha-lipoic acid has promise in assisting with weight loss. There is some preliminary evidence that higher dosages of alpha-lipoic acid (800 to 1,800 mg/day) may aid in weight loss for overweight individuals, but the results can be modest at best.
Should You Take Alpha Lipoic Acid in the Morning or Night?
Since one of the characteristics that define any antioxidant is that roughly 30–40% of it is only absorbed by the stomach, it is recommended to consume the ALA supplement early in the morning and before eating or drinking for at least 30 minutes. Accordingly, the body will have the time to absorb as much ALA as needed, or at night after dinner by 2-4 hours and before sleeping by 30 minutes. So there isn’t an ideal time to consume it, but there are certain eating and drinking rules to follow so that your body can have as much effective ALA as needed.
Alpha Lipoic Acid Dosage
(You should be notified that we encourage you to refer to a doctor before taking any dosage of any supplement of any kind.)
While there isn’t an ideal dosage of ALA to consume as it’s safe and tolerated, however, studies showed that dosages could range from 300 to 1200 mg, and dosages should be split into 1 to 3 doses if the total dosage is to be 1200 mg.
Alpha-lipoic acids, like many other antioxidants and vitamins, are beneficial to the health of our bodies. And there might not be many studies suggesting a link between alpha-lipoic acid and better sleeping quality; however, those that do exist suggest that there might be in fact a link, and further confirm the benefits that may improve sleep quality, reduce inflammation, improve blood sugar control, and reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases. And while it has a few side effects, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider before starting supplementation and to follow supplement instructions carefully.
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