Lipoic acid

Lipoic acid, which is also known as thioctic acid, is a fat soluble compound produced in the body. It plays an important role in the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats and protein.

What it does in the body

Lipoic acid acts in a complex with thiamin and niacin in the metabolism of glucose. It is also an antioxidant, effective against both water and fat soluble free radicals. Some experts believe that the body synthesizes sufficient lipoic acid for its metabolic function, but additional intake in the diet is necessary for antioxidant function. Lipoic acid may combine with free iron and copper in the body and protect against the oxidative damage exerted by these free ions.

Lipoic acidDeficiency

No deficiency symptoms have been reported. Low lipoic acid levels may play a role in disorders such as diabetes, heart disease, and cirrhosis of the liver.


Lipoic acid is easily absorbed.


Liver and brewer's yeast are good sources of lipoic acid.


Lipoic acid is available in tablets and capsules.

Toxic effects

There are no reports of toxic effects.

Therapeutic uses of supplements


Lipoic acid has been used to treat diabetics by improving glucose transport and metabolism. High intakes may increase the absorption of glucose into muscle tissue in Type II diabetes. Lipoic acid may also decrease the damaging effects on proteins of high glucose levels.

Lipoic acid may be beneficial in improving nerve blood flow, reducing oxidative stress, and improving nerve conduction in diabetic neuropathy. The effects of lipoic acid on diabetic neuropathy have been studied in two German randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials. In the first of these, 328 patients with Type II diabetes and symptoms of peripheral neuropathy were treated with either intravenous infusion of lipoic acid or placebo for three weeks. The results showed improvements in symptoms. In another study, patients with Type II diabetes and cardiac autonomic neuropathy were treated with a daily oral dose of 800 mg lipoic acid or placebo for four months. Two out of four symptoms test measurements were significantly improved in those taking the lipoic acid compared with placebo.

Other uses

Because of its antioxidant action, lipoic acid may be effective in treating neurodegenerative disorders and other causes of acute or chronic brain damage or nerve tissue damage. Lipoic acid may also inhibit activation of HIV. Supplements have also been used to boost the antioxidant defense system in AIDS patients. Lipoic acid has been used to treat heavy metal poisoning.

Studies have shown beneficial effects of lipoic acid treatment on cataracts in rats. It may be of therapeutic use in preventing human cataracts and their associated complications. Lipoic acid has also been used to treat glaucoma.

Interactions with other nutrients

Lipoic acid may protect vitamins C and E from oxidative damage.



Other Nutrients:

Essential fatty acids
Para-aminobenzoic acid
Pangamic acid
Coenzyme Q10
Amino acids
Lipoic acid
Shark cartilage
Digestive support
Betaine hydrochloride
Digestive enzymes
Fiber supplements