How Alpha Lipoic Acid Benefits Your Liver

Alpha lipoic acid is a powerful antioxidant with numerous benefits. Here’s how incorporating it into your diet can protect your liver and overall health.

7 minute read

Last Updated September 20, 2021

How Alpha Lipoic Acid Benefits Your Liver

Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is produced naturally in the body and is found in all human cells. It is a powerful antioxidant that also plays a role in aerobic metabolism. ALA is made within the mitochondria, where it supports enzymes as they convert nutrients into energy. 

The antioxidant properties of ALA make it beneficial to reduce inflammation and oxidative damage and boost overall health. Animal products are great sources and plant foods such as broccoli, spinach, and Brussels sprout. 

Because humans only produce a small amount of ALA, supplements are also a great way to keep levels up so you can receive the maximum health benefits it has to offer. One important benefit is the antioxidant protection ALA provides for your liver. 

Alpha Lipoic Acid for Your Liver

Cellular oxidation is the natural process where either oxygen or disease breaks down a substance. This creates free radicals that will attack nearby molecules to gain stability. The molecules left behind are now unstable and will behave the same way. This free radical damage can cause tissue death and disease. Antioxidants can bind to free radicals and thus end destruction before cellular damage is caused.  

Liver disease and damage is linked to the cycle of free radical damage as a result of its role in detoxifying the body. Every toxin you inhale or ingest ends up in your liver. These toxins not only cause liver cell damage, but they trigger free radical damage in the area. Alpha lipoic acid is a powerful antioxidant that can be used to protect the liver in a variety of ways.

Glutathione levels that are increased by ALA help protect liver cells from toxic damage and free radical damage. Glutathione has been found to specifically help in cases of alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. ALA also recycles vitamins C and E, which are also potent antioxidants. 

ALA is also water and fat-soluble. This means it can bind with free radicals in both healthy and fatty livers. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is the most common liver disease. Without treatment, it can cause liver scarring and even failure. The ability of ALA to reduce oxidative damage within fatty liver cells enables it to protect liver function. ALA can protect the liver cells from the inside and outside. Inside each cell's nucleus, ALA protects the genetic material, helping the mitochondria produce energy. 

In cases where hepatitis, alcoholism, or other disease have caused significant liver scarring and damage, ALA can be used to reverse the damage and restore liver function. ALA inhibits the death of damaged liver cells and allows them to regenerate. Depending on the severity of the damage, ALA may be able to restore the liver to nearly normal function. Additionally, ALA restores liver enzyme levels that may have become elevated as a result of inflammation and cellular damage. 

Alpha lipoic acid is like other antioxidants, in that they become depleted after attacking free radicals. ALA has been found to regenerate other antioxidant levels so they can continue to fight against oxidative damage. This is beneficial to damage and diseased livers that are under constant attack from inflammation and free radicals. It can protect the liver from further damage until function can be restored. 

Additional Benefits of Alpha Lipoic Acid

In addition to protecting the liver, alpha lipoic acid provides antioxidant support throughout the body. Oxidative damage to cells and tissues is known to significantly increase the risk of chronic disease. Supplements containing ALA can provide additional protection to support overall health in several ways. 

♦ Lowers blood glucose: Diabetes affects millions worldwide. A key feature of the disease is uncontrolled blood sugar levels. If these levels are left in this way, over time, the risk for certain health problems such as heart disease, kidney failure, and vision loss increases. Alpha lipoic acid has been shown to lower blood sugar levels, which can help control diabetes. It also reduces insulin resistance by promoting processes that remove accumulated fat from muscle cells, which otherwise make insulin less effective. 

Supplements containing ALA may also reduce the risk of complications associated with diabetes. Studies show that it eases symptoms of nerve damage and reduces the risk of diabetic retinopathy, both of which can occur with diabetes. 

Slows memory loss: Studies have shown that oxidative stress plays a role in memory loss. This also increases the risk of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. ALA uses the same protective measures as it does with the liver to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. Neutralizing free radicals and suppressing inflammation can reduce the risk of brain degeneration

Lowers risk of heart disease: Heart disease is the most common cause of death in the United States and is correlated to oxidative stress and inflammatory damage. ALA can neutralize free radicals in the heart just as it does in the liver. It also improves endothelial dysfunction, which is a significant risk for heart attacks and stroke. Furthermore, ALA lowers triglyceride and bad cholesterol levels to reduce the risk of heart disease. 

Taking Alpha Lipoic Acid

Alpha lipoic acid is considered safe to take as a supplement. It is best to take supplements on an empty stomach, and no more than 300-600mg is recommended. Taking ALA without food is advised as certain foods can lower its bioavailability

It is recommended to follow all dosage instructions and to consult with your doctor before starting any ALA supplement. Individuals with congestive disorders or diabetic complications may need a higher dose, and only a doctor can advise on this. 

Side Effects and Warnings

There are little known side effects of alpha lipoic acid. Some people may experience rashes, dizziness, or nausea. Side effects are more common when larger doses are taken. While studies have shown that adults can consume up to 2400mg without side effects, it is advised to follow supplement instructions and doctor’s advice. There have been no additional benefits found associated with higher doses. Studies have also found that high doses can have the opposite effect and promote oxidation. 

Individuals with diabetes need to consult with their doctor first. ALA may have interactions with medications that are designed to lower blood glucose levels. ALA naturally lowers blood glucose, and this may cause levels to drop too low. ALA can also reduce the effectiveness of some chemotherapy drugs and interact with antibiotics, osteoarthritis, and vasodilators. 

The Bottom Line

Alpha lipoic acid, or ALA, is a powerful antioxidant compound that can benefit the health of your liver. With all the toxicity your liver encounters daily, the additional support and protection is a valuable asset to have. Incorporating ALA into your diet each day can protect your liver and can restore liver function when the damage has already occurred. ALA protects your liver in multiple ways, and if your liver could talk, it would certainly ask for more.