Lipoic Acid and Healthy Weight LossApril 2019
By Shirley Givens
Obesity is rapidly emerging as the leading risk factor for premature illnesses.
Lipoic acid can aid in weight loss while reducing pathologies associated with excess weight. These include poor glucose control, abnormal cholesterol levels, and chronic inflammation.
Damage to the brain and nervous system due to obesity has also been shown to be reduced by lipoic acid.
Lipoic acid can benefit those seeking to lose weight and improve metabolic health.
The Dangers of Obesity
Obesity is a perfect storm of health problems.
Fat cells churn out an enormous amount of inflammation that contributes to chronic disease.1,2
Obesity also causes metabolic changes throughout the body, such as high blood pressure, blood lipid abnormalities, and elevated blood sugar, that further increase disease risk.
These abnormalities are components of metabolic syndrome, a major cause of common illnesses. Metabolic syndrome affects more than 1 in 3 people in the U.S.3
All told, obesity is associated with:1,2,4-8
- Increased risk of death from any cause,
- High blood pressure,
- Blood lipid abnormalities,
- High blood sugar,
- Type II diabetes,
- Cardiovascular disease (such as heart disease and stroke),
- Some common types of cancer (breast, colon, and others),
- Kidney disease,
- Mental illness (depression, anxiety, and more),
- Sleep apnea and other respiratory issues,
- Pain (due to arthritis and/or nerve damage, for example), and
- Impaired brain function, including cognitive decline and dementia.
Lipoic Acid Aids in Weight Loss and Metabolic Health
The dangers associated with obesity, coupled with its prevalence (more than 70% of U.S. adults are overweight or obese9-11) make finding a solution more important than ever.
The results of 3 studies published in 2018 show that lipoic acid is uniquely suited to aid in weight loss and reduce associated metabolic disease.12-14
Reduces Body Weight
In a meta-analysis published in the journal Clinical Nutrition, researchers reported on 12 placebo-controlled trials evaluating lipoic acid in the treatment of obesity.14 These studies revealed that supplementing with lipoic acid reduced body weight and body mass index (BMI).
In another meta-analysis, published in the journal Metabolism, researchers evaluated 24 clinical trials to determine lipoic acid’s impact on patients with metabolic diseases.12
More specifically, they evaluated the impact of lipoic acid supplementation on abnormal blood glucose levels and lipid profiles. Both are components of metabolic syndrome and are commonly associated with obesity.
The studies showed that supplementation with lipoic acid improved fasting blood glucose, insulin levels, insulin resistance, and long-term control of blood sugar.
Blood lipid profiles were also improved, with reductions in LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Researchers conducted a third meta-analysis of 18 studies with similar patients to assess the impact of lipoic acid on inflammation.13
Their analysis revealed that lipoic acid has a profound anti-inflammatory effect.
Supplementation was associated with a reduction in C-reactive protein, an important marker of systemic inflammation.
Tumor necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin-6 were also reduced. This is an important finding because these pro-inflammatory cytokines are produced by excess fat tissue. They also contribute to the chronic inflammation associated with obesity and risk for disease.1
Most of the studies included in the latter 2 meta-analyses utilized lipoic acid doses ranging from 300-600 mg daily.
Overall, these 3 studies indicate that lipoic acid contributes to weight reduction while also ameliorating many of the harmful metabolic and inflammatory abnormalities associated with obesity.
Implications for Cardiovascular Disease
Given lipoic acid’s benefits for healthy weight loss, glucose control, and lipid profiles, it should come as little surprise that it is also protective against cardiovascular disease. Reducing weight, blood sugar, and bad cholesterol can all help reduce cardiovascular risk.
Lipoic acid has also been shown to reduce blood pressure, another important risk factor for blood vessel disease and heart disease. In a study of hospitalized patients recovering from stroke, those patients given 600 mg of lipoic acid daily experienced a reduction in blood pressure and fasting blood-sugar levels.15
Lipoic acid may also protect against atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. Atherosclerosis is the blood vessel disorder that underlies much of what we tend to think of as heart disease.
Atherosclerotic arteries are narrowed and jagged, leading to increased risk of clotting and blockages that underlie many heart attacks and strokes.
In an animal model, lipoic acid reduced the progression of atherosclerosis. And in human aortic endothelial cells, lipoic acid produced several effects that could help prevent atherosclerosis, such as reducing inflammatory changes in blood vessel walls, reducing oxidative stress, and preventing cell death.16
Lipoic Acid and Diabetes
Obese people are more likely to develop type II diabetes.17,18
Poorly controlled diabetes can lead to cardiovascular disease, vision loss, kidney failure, and neuropathy (damage to nerves).19
In addition to improving blood glucose control, lipoic acid can prevent or reduce the severity of many of these complications.
For example, in several human studies, lipoic acid has consistently been shown to improve symptoms of diabetic neuropathy.20-23
The velocity of electrical impulses in peripheral nerves is often diminished with nerve disease. Lipoic acid was shown in a clinical study to increase the velocity of nerve impulses in peripheral nerves, while reducing related symptoms, such as weakness, numbness, and pain.
In one study, R-lipoic acid, the more biologically active form of lipoic acid, was administered to patients with diabetic neuropathy.21 Within 30 days, nerve-signal velocities were increased, both in motor and sensory nerves. The patients also reported subjective improvements in sensation and a reduction in limb pain.
Several mechanisms of activity contribute to this protection, such as improvement of glucose control, prevention of oxidative stress, and reduction of inflammation.
Obesity’s Impact on the Brain
Studies show that obesity contributes to premature cognitive decline and risk for dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease.2,5,7
Obesity essentially accelerates brain aging.
Highlighting this fact, researchers evaluated 299 healthy, young women aged 18-35. A total of 157 of the women were normal weight while the others were obese.
The researchers found that the obese women displayed significantly lower performance on attention tasks and greater impulsivity than non-obese women. They concluded that this difference may be indicative of an early stage of cognitive decline associated with obesity.
In addition to contributing to weight loss and metabolic health, lipoic acid has profound neuroprotective effects.
In animal models of stroke, lipoic acid was shown to help reduce the resulting brain damage.24
And in 2 animal studies, researchers found obesity to be associated with several forms of brain impairment, some of which were related to poor insulin function. Survival of brain cells, learning, and memory were all impaired in these animals.25,26
Remarkably, treatment with lipoic acid prevented many of the detrimental brain effects of obesity, preserving healthy brain plasticity and metabolism.25,26
Lipoic acid has also shown promising results in supporting brain function and protecting against the pathology of Alzheimer’s dementia.27-29
Obesity wreaks havoc on the body’s metabolism and is a major contributor to chronic diseases.
Chronic inflammation, oxidative stress, and metabolic abnormalities are all amplified by excess body fat, which accelerates the aging process and damages tissues.
In addition to contributing to weight loss, lipoic acid combats many risk factors associated with excess weight, such as poor glucose control, abnormal cholesterol levels, and chronic inflammation.
These benefits can result in reducing the risks associated with chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cognitive decline.
If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.
- Ellulu MS, Patimah I, Khaza’ai H, et al. Obesity and inflammation: the linking mechanism and the complications. Arch Med Sci. 2017 Jun;13(4):851-63.
- Spyridaki EC, Avgoustinaki PD, Margioris AN. Obesity, inflammation and cognition. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences. 2016;9:169-75.
- Moore JX, Chaudhary N, Akinyemiju T. Metabolic Syndrome Prevalence by Race/Ethnicity and Sex in the United States, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988-2012. Prev Chronic Dis. 2017 Mar 16;14:E24.
- Callaghan BC, Xia R, Reynolds E, et al. Association Between Metabolic Syndrome Components and Polyneuropathy in an Obese Population. JAMA Neurol. 2016 Dec 1;73(12):1468-76.
- Cook RL, O’Dwyer NJ, Donges CE, et al. Relationship between Obesity and Cognitive Function in Young Women: The Food, Mood and Mind Study. J Obes. 2017;2017:5923862.
- Hozumi J, Sumitani M, Matsubayashi Y, et al. Relationship between Neuropathic Pain and Obesity. Pain Res Manag. 2016;2016:2487924.
- Nguyen JC, Killcross AS, Jenkins TA. Obesity and cognitive decline: role of inflammation and vascular changes. Front Neurosci. 2014;8:375.
- Available at: www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/effects/index.html. Accessed August 31, 2018,
- Fryar CD, Carroll MD, Ogden CL. Prevalence of overweight, obesity, and extreme obesity among adults aged 20 and over: United States, 1960-1962 through 2013-2014, National Center for Health Statistics Health E-Stats. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;2016.
- Hales CM, Carroll MD, Fryar CD, et al. Prevalence of obesity among adults and youth: United States, 2015-2016. NCHS data brief. no 288. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics;2017.
- Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/obesity-overweight.htm. Accessed January 16, 2019.
- Akbari M, Ostadmohammadi V, Lankarani KB, et al. The effects of alpha-lipoic acid supplementation on glucose control and lipid profiles among patients with metabolic diseases: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Metabolism. 2018 Oct;87:56-69.
- Akbari M, Ostadmohammadi V, Tabrizi R, et al. The effects of alpha-lipoic acid supplementation on inflammatory markers among patients with metabolic syndrome and related disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2018;15:39.
- Namazi N, Larijani B, Azadbakht L. Alpha-lipoic acid supplement in obesity treatment: A systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials. Clin Nutr. 2018 Apr;37(2):419-28.
- Mohammadi V, Khorvash F, Feizi A, et al. Does Alpha-lipoic Acid Supplementation Modulate Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Patients with Stroke? A Randomized, Double-blind Clinical Trial. Int J Prev Med. 2018;9:34.
- Shen D, Tian L, Shen T, et al. Alpha-Lipoic Acid Protects Human Aortic Endothelial Cells Against H2O2-Induced Injury and Inhibits Atherosclerosis in Ovariectomized Low Density Lipoprotein Receptor Knock-Out Mice. Cell Physiol Biochem. 2018;47(6):2261-77.
- Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/health-risks-overweight. Accessed January 16, 2019.
- Milicevic Z, Raz I, Beattie SD, et al. Natural history of cardiovascular disease in patients with diabetes: role of hyperglycemia. Diabetes Care. 2008 Feb;31 Suppl 2(Supplement 2):S155-60.
- Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-2-diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20351193. Accessed January 16, 2019.
- Ibrahimpasic K. Alpha lipoic acid and glycaemic control in diabetic neuropathies at type 2 diabetes treatment. Med Arch. 2013;67(1):7-9.
- Mrakic-Sposta S, Vezzoli A, Maderna L, et al. R(+)-Thioctic Acid Effects on Oxidative Stress and Peripheral Neuropathy in Type II Diabetic Patients: Preliminary Results by Electron Paramagnetic Resonance and Electroneurography. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2018;2018:1767265.
- Ziegler D, Low PA, Litchy WJ, et al. Efficacy and safety of antioxidant treatment with alpha-lipoic acid over 4 years in diabetic polyneuropathy: the NATHAN 1 trial. Diabetes Care. 2011 Sep;34(9):2054-60.
- Ziegler D, Reljanovic M, Mehnert H, et al. Alpha-lipoic acid in the treatment of diabetic polyneuropathy in Germany: current evidence from clinical trials. Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes. 1999;107(7):421-30.
- Wang Q, Lv C, Sun Y, et al. The Role of Alpha-Lipoic Acid in the Pathomechanism of Acute Ischemic Stroke. Cell Physiol Biochem. 2018 Jul 11;48(1):42-53.
- Liu Y, Zhang Q, Wang L, et al. The alpha-lipoic acid improves high-fat diet-induced cerebral damage through inhibition of oxidative stress and inflammatory reaction. Environ Toxicol Pharmacol. 2017 Dec;56:219-24.
- Liu Z, Patil I, Sancheti H, et al. Effects of Lipoic Acid on High-Fat Diet-Induced Alteration of Synaptic Plasticity and Brain Glucose Metabolism: A PET/CT and (13)C-NMR Study. Sci Rep. 2017 Jul 14;7(1):5391.
- Hager K, Kenklies M, McAfoose J, et al. Alpha-lipoic acid as a new treatment option for Alzheimer’s disease--a 48 months follow-up analysis. J Neural Transm Suppl. 2007 (72):189-93.
- Molz P, Schroder N. Potential Therapeutic Effects of Lipoic Acid on Memory Deficits Related to Aging and Neurodegeneration. Front Pharmacol. 2017;8:849.
- Shinto L, Quinn J, Montine T, et al. A randomized placebo-controlled pilot trial of omega-3 fatty acids and alpha lipoic acid in Alzheimer’s disease. J Alzheimers Dis. 2014;38(1):111-20.
- Available at: https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/lipoic-acid. Accessed January 18, 2019.
- Carlson DA, Smith AR, Fischer SJ, et al. The plasma pharmacokinetics of R-(+)-lipoic acid administered as sodium R-(+)-lipoate to healthy human subjects. Altern Med Rev. 2007 Dec;12(4):343-51.
- Brufani M, Figliola R. (R)-alpha-lipoic acid oral liquid formulation: pharmacokinetic parameters and therapeutic efficacy. Acta Biomed. 2014 Aug 20;85(2):108-15.
- Maglione E, Marrese C, Migliaro E, et al. Increasing bioavailability of (R)-alpha-lipoic acid to boost antioxidant activity in the treatment of neuropathic pain. Acta Biomed. 2015 Dec 14;86(3):226-33.