Several compounds are catalysts with nutrients that enable the nutrients to do their jobs, keeping us healthy. But because older adults have a declining ability to absorb vitamins and minerals, we may suffer deficiencies of necessary nutrients. These deficiencies may be allowing DNA damage to occur.
The prevailing theory of why we age is that it's a result of damage to our DNA by oxidants. Oxidants are highly reactive chemicals containing oxygen or nitrogen that easily react with other molecules, resulting in potentially damaging modifications to DNA, proteins and fats in cell membranes. The molecule damage fix-it kit is the responsibility of antioxidants. These other molecules counter the oxidants' ability to damage DNA; hence, they are anti-oxidants.
Metabolism is the sum of all the processes within the body. Alpha-lipoic acid (LA) is an antioxidant, a vitamin-like chemical essential to metabolism. LA is made in small amounts in plants and animals, including humans, and LA provides the catalysts that make many critical functions possible on the cell level.
There is limited evidence that high doses of LA may improve glucose utilization in individuals with type 2 diabetes. This means that less insulin may need to be produced, an improvement in pancreatic function.
Additionally, the inner lining of blood vessels, known as endothelium, plays an important role in vascular disease. Endothelial function is often impaired in diabetic patients, who are at high risk for vascular disease. Diabetic patients are also at high risk for microvascular disease, which may contribute to diabetic neuropathy, a type of nerve damage that may result in pain, loss of sensation, and weakness, particularly in the lower extremities. Peripheral neuropathy is also a leading cause of lower limb amputation in diabetic patients.
LA has also been considered to help in neurodegenerative diseases, such as MS. Additionally, animal studies suggest that LA may be helpful in slowing age-related cognitive decline. Randomized controlled trials are needed to determine whether LA supplementation is effective in preventing or slowing cognitive decline associated with age or neurodegenerative diseases.
Alpha-lipoic acid is available in many foods in small amounts: yeast, red meat, particularly organ meats (liver, kidney, and heart), and in vegetables such as spinach, yams, broccoli, potatoes, tomatoes, peas, Brussels sprouts, carrots, beets and rice bran.
The amounts of LA available in dietary supplements, 200-600 mg, are likely as much as 1,000 times greater than the amounts that could be obtained strictly in the diet. LA is available as a dietary supplement without a prescription in the U.S. Since taking LA with a meal decreases its bioavailability, or usability, it's generally recommended that LA be taken on an empty stomach, one hour before or two hours after eating.
Add LA related foods to your diet, but LA supplements could enable older adults to enjoy a more comfortable lifespan - on an empty stomach, of course.
c. 2013 - Live2AgeWell.com
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