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Lipoic Acid

The Bottom Line on Two-Faced Lipoic Acids

  • Many molecules used by the body have a specific "handedness" (chirality). For example, alpha-tocopherol, or essential fatty acids.

  • In some cases, synthetic versions of these molecules have a different "handedness" than the natural molecule.

  • Some of these unnatural molecules are merely less potent than the natural forms, such as dl-alpha-tocopherol. Others are actually harmful - for example, trans-fatty acids.

  • Unless they specify otherwise, "lipoic acid" supplements are a 50/50 mixture of the natural R(+)-lipoic acid, and the synthetic S(-)-lipoic acid. These mixtures are called "racemates."

  • In some cases, S(-)-lipoic acid - or the racemate in nearly all supplements - is simply less effective than R(+)-lipoic acid. In other cases, the S(-)-form actually acts in opposition to the effects of R(+)-lipoic acid.

  • 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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Please consult with a health care professional before starting any supplementation program. The information contained on this site is general in nature and Company does not take any responsibility for any errors that may appear. Company has made every attempt to make the information as accurate as possible. However, Company does not warrant its accuracy. Please note that the statements on this web site have not been evaluated by the FDA.