ALA (Alpha Lipoic Acid) a huge hitter in the Anti Oxidant world. Do you take ALA? you should, you know you should. It’s for those free radicals that damage cells – right? Here we find ourselves in that uncomfortable grey area where most people exist when it comes to nutrition, supplements, and optimal health. We kinda know what articles (and blog posts) are talking about, but not really.
So before we get onto how to look younger with ALA (notice how I hooked you in) let’s backtrack just a little to better understand this awesome supplement.
ALA is a nutrient that has powerful antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help mitigate the damage done by free radicals.
To understand the way that free radicals and antioxidants interact, you must first understand a bit about cells and molecules. This will be brief and painless. The body is made up of different types of cells and cells are made up of different types of molecules. Molecules consist of one or more atoms that are joined by chemical bonds.
You = Cells = Molecules = Atoms
Atoms have a nucleus, neutrons, protons and electrons. Protons are positively charged and are in the atoms nucleus. Electrons are negatively charged particles and sit in the surrounding shell of the atom. Electrons are involved in chemical reactions and are what bond atoms together to form Molecules.
An atom likes to have it outer shell full of electons. An Atom with a full outer shell tends not to get involved in chemical reactions but when there is space an atom will try to fill it. Atoms often complete their outer shells by sharing electrons with other atoms. If they share an electron the atoms are bound together and the molecule feel stable.
Electrons are in the outer shell of an atom, if that outer shell is not full an atom may join/bond with another atom.
How Free Radicals are Formed
If a bond breaks a free radical is formed. Unstable, they try to grab onto an electron for stability. In a panic, a free radical will attack a stable molecule and steal one of its electrons. Now that poor molecule is unstable and becomes a free radical itself. Remeber the molecules are within the cell and when molecules start to turn into free radicals it will eventually damage the cell.
Some free radicals arise normally during metabolism. Sometimes our immune system creates them to kill off viruses and bad bacteria. Free radicals are expected and the body has antioxidants to deal with them.
Then we have smoke, stress, pollution, radiation etc that spew out free radicals causing havoc, if we don’t have the antioxidants we need excessive damage occurs and that damage builds up as we age.
That’s why we need antioxidants
HOW DO THEY WORK?
Antioxidants are our stable, generous friend. Anti oxidants donate one of their own electrons to the free radical but in doing so they dont turn into a free radical themselves because they are so cool that they are stable either way. Anti oxidants can then stop the cascade of damage that free radicals can start.
Vitamin E – The most abundant fat-soluble antioxidant in the body. One of the most efficient chain-breaking antioxidants available.
Vitamin C – The most abundant water-soluble antioxidant in the body. Acts primarily in cellular fluid. Of particular note in combating free-radical formation caused by pollution and cigarette smoke.
Except for when it’s in a modified ester form, vitamin C is water soluble. That means it dissolves in water and is not stored in your body’s fat and for that reason, you need to take it daily.
Fat soluble vitamins – such as A, E, D, and K – are the opposite, they’re soluble in fats and for our body to readily absorb them, we need to consume them in conjunction with fats. If you swallow your multi-vitamin with a glass of water and don’t eat a meal along with it, chances are very little of these nutrients are being absorbed (however the vitamin C is, since it’s water soluble).
What makes ALA special is that since it is both water and fat soluble, you are able to absorb it at any time, regardless of what you’re eating or drinking with it.
WHAT ABOUT SKIN!
ALA is able to protect the skin from photoaging. A small study of ladies in their 50’s had the women put 5% ALA serum on half of their faces for 12 weeks. The treated side showed significant improvement (decreases roughness)
ALA also helps with the synthesis of new collagen. “ALA facilitated the expression of a collagen producing enzyme, prolyl-4-hydroxylase” ALA also helped reduce hair follicle degradation!
Topical ALA dramatically reduced serum IgE a big hitter when it comes to skin sensitivity issues such as atopic dermatitis, sinustis, and some food allergies.
So where do we get hold of ALA? The richest sources of ALA can be found in organ meats (heart, kidney, liver) Maybe you’re ok with that but the very thought of that makes me want to vomit. Thankfully you can purchase ALA as a supplement. I wish I could plug a Shrink Shop product here but although we have a great Anti Oxidant we don’t (yet) have an ALA product.
Until we do make sure to eat your veggies, take a good vitamin C and E (at the right times) and if you can stomach it chow down on some organ meat.
Until next time