Alpha-lipoic acid helps diabetics convert sugar to energy

The antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) improved the body’s ability to absorb and convert sugar (glucose) to energy (glycemic control-insulin sensitivity) in Type 2 diabetes mellitus, according to a study. Researchers recruited 12 obese Type 2 diabetics, average age 53, and gave an oral dose of 600 mg of ALA twice per day for a daily total of 1,200 mg of ALA for four weeks. Doctors also monitored 12 healthy subjects with normal glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity who did not take ALA as a control group.

At the end of the study period, scientists found that the diabetics were able to clear glucose from the blood nearly twice as quickly—an average 85.8% increase in clearing rate—as before taking ALA. The doctors also determined how sensitive the diabetics were to insulin—the natural hormone produced by the healthy body that regulates glucose—and found that insulin sensitivity increased 62.3% after taking ALA. The scientists noted that there was no statistically significant difference in insulin sensitivity between the diabetics who had taken ALA and the healthy control group, leading the doctors to conclude that short-term oral ALA treatment increases insulin sensitivity in patients with Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Prior studies have shown that ALA improved insulin sensitivity when patients received an injection of the antioxidant and doctors wanted to determine if ALA would be as effective using oral supplements. 

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