While it's not something that anybody will have heard of, like echinacea or vitamin C, health-conscious folks have become more and more familiar with lipoic acid (or thioctic acid) over the last few years. It's best known as an antioxidant - but it's not just another free radical quencher. And even among antioxidants, lipoic acid has an unique place, as the central hub of the body's antioxidant network.
While many antioxidants - from beta-carotene to grape skin polyphenols - are found in the diet, and play powerful roles in supporting optimal health, conventional antioxidants are like facial tissue: use it once, and it's no good to you any more - so get rid of it. Not so with the antioxidant network. While other antioxidants work in isolation, the five members of the antioxidant network work together to form the indispensable core of the body's free-radical defense and "recycling" system - That is, the body uses network antioxidants as a team to protect you against rampaging free radicals. These specific antioxidants team - whose other members are the vitamin E complex (tocopherols plus tocotrienols), vitamin C, Coenzyme Q10, and glutathione (GSH) - complement each others' strengths, and make up for each others' weaknesses. Above all, network antioxidants have the unique ability to "recharge" one another into their active, antioxidant forms when they fall down in the fight against free radical marauders.
Of that elite, free-radical counterterrorist strike force, lipoic acid is the least-known … yet it plays the most important role. Lipoic acid's place at the heart of the network springs from its remarkable versatility. This powerful nutrient is the only network antioxidant which is active in both cellular membranes and watery cellular fluid; which retains some of its antioxidant powers even after stepping in to block free radicals 4. and which can directly or indirectly "recycle" all of the other members of the network back to their active antioxidant form when they become neutralized in taking down free radicals. On top of this - as we'll see - lipoic acid is the only antioxidant you can get from diet and supplements that will actually restore the youthful efficiency and energy-producing potential of the body's cellular "power plants" (mitochondria). It's literally the most crucial antioxidant for a person to take.
Combine lipoic acid's dynamic antioxidant role with the controlled trials which show that it provides powerful support for healthy blood sugar metabolism 5, and protects and even restores the functioning of nerves 6 and perhaps kidneys 7 damaged by years of high blood sugar exposure from diabetes - and you know that anyone serious about their health and longevity will look further into this remarkable nutrient.
Yes, lipoic acid is a nutrient with awesome potential. But if you're taking the form of lipoic acid found in almost all supplements currently on the market, then we advise you to sit down before continuing with this article. Because what you'll learn may startle yo u. If you're taking a conventional lipoic acid pill, then the health-promoting, anti-aging benefits associated with this nutrient are only being delivered by half of your supplement. The other half is worse than useless: it actually antagonizes the effects of the good half of the supplement. To put it bluntly: the lipoic acid you're taking harbors both a hero … and an "evil twin."
Learn More About The Evil Twin
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