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Nutrition - anti-oxidants

Q: I am a 37 year old man. I had read an ariticle in a magazine that ALA 100, an anti-oxidant is good for health & in foreign countries, people are taking it over 20 years. For the last 3 months I am also taking 100mg. of ALA 100 once daily. I want some more information about ALA 100 & can I take it continously.

A:Alpha lipoic acid can be characterized as a powerful antioxidant discovered in 1956. It is believed to prevent/treat age related diseases from heart disease and stroke to diabetes and cataracts. Recently it has made its way into American food stores. In Germany it is often prescribed to treat long-term nerve complication of diabetes. Some studies on animals do show beneficial role of alpha lipoic acid for nerve health.

However, research on ALA is still its infancy. The studies have been small and results sometimes inconsistent. There has been little good research in humans. Large, long term, well-controlled studies need to be done to know what the long-term side effects of large supplemental doses may be. If ALA is as powerful as it seems, there may be a danger in too much of a good thing. In addition, while in Germany it is sold only by prescription and (like other supplements) is monitored by the Government, in the US you may have no way of knowing whats in the bottles.

May be in a few years ALA may become an important anti-oxidant supplement for the time being stick to the richest food source of ALA i.e lean red meat. Not enough is known to recommend it.

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