The biggest source of free radicals in your body are your cellular "power plants," the mitochondria. They are both the origin, and the target, of most of the free radical damage in the body.
As we age, our mitochondria become less and less efficient "power plants," generating less and less energy while creating more and more free radicals.
The "lipoic acid" in common supplements is a 50/50 mixture of two different "lipoic acid" molecules: the natural R(+)-lipoic acid, and the unnatural S(-)-form. This mixture is called the "racemate."
R(+)-lipoic acid, in animal experiments and in test-tube studies, makes mitochondria more efficient, so that they produce more energy and create fewer free radicals. S(-)-lipoic acid does not have these effects.
These benefits have a real impact on the organism. Animals undergoing a simulated heart attack recover heart function more rapidly when infused with R(+)-lipoic acid; S(-)-lipoic acid has no effect.
Old animals supplemented with lipoic acid look better and are more active. S(-)-lipoic acid does not have these effects.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR) also boosts mitochondrial energy production. However, it does not make the mitochondria run more efficiently.
As a result, old animals supplemented with ALCAR create more energy, and are more active, in the short term, but they suffer even more free radical damage.
Animals supplemented with both ALCAR and R(+)-lipoic acid get the benefits of ALCAR without the increase in free radical stress. S(-)-lipoic acid does not have these effects.
Common "lipoic acid" supplements are thus like a house at war with itself. The S(-)-form should be removed from supplements in favor of pure R(+)-lipoic acid.
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