1. Lipoic Acid May Reduce Atherosclerosis and Weight Gain
A new study done with mice has discovered that supplements of lipoic acid can inhibit formation of arterial lesions, lower triglycerides, and reduce blood vessel inflammation and weight gain 0151 all key issues for addressing cardiovascular disease.
Although the results cannot be directly extrapolated beyond the laboratory, researchers report that “they strongly suggest that lipoic acid supplementation may be useful as an inexpensive but effective intervention strategy . . . reducing known risk factors for the development of atherosclerosis and other inflammatory vascular diseases in humans.”
The findings were made by scientists from the Linus Pauling Institute and College of Veterinary Medicine at Oregon State University, and the Department of Medicine at the University of Washington. They were just published in Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.
The study found that lipoic acid supplements reduced atherosclerotic lesion formation in two types of mice that are widely used to study cardiovascular disease, by 55 percent and 40 percent, respectively. The supplements were also associated with almost 40 percent less body weight gain, and lower levels of triglycerides in very low-density lipoproteins.
As a result, the authors concluded that “lipoic acid may be a useful adjunct in the prevention and treatment of atherosclerotic vascular diseases.”
“We are excited about these results, particularly since the supplements of lipoic acid appear to provide several different mechanisms to improve cardiovascular health,” said Balz Frei, professor and director of the Linus Pauling Institute. “They are helping in a fundamental way to reset and normalize metabolic processes, in ways that could help address one of the most significant health problems in the Western world.
“These findings also reinforce the need for more comprehensive human studies,” Frei said. “That will be the next step in our research, in double-blind, randomized, clinical studies during the next five years with Oregon Health and Science University.”
Alpha lipoic acid is a naturally occurring nutrient found at low levels in green leafy vegetables, potatoes and meats, especially organ meats such as kidney, heart or liver. The amounts used in this research would not be obtainable by any normal diet, researchers said, and for human consumption might equate to supplements of about 2,000 milligrams per day. Even at low, normal, dietary levels, the compound can play a key role in energy metabolism.
Also of considerable interest, Frei said, is the apparent role of lipoic acid supplementation in reducing weight gain. It appears to have this effect both through appetite suppression, an enhanced metabolic rate, and — at least in laboratory animals — has been shown to stimulate higher levels of physical activity, which again would increase caloric expenditure and further reduce weight.
Weight gain and obesity is a major risk factor for atherosclerosis and heart disease, and lower weight and abdominal fat may be one of the mechanisms by which lipoic acid has beneficial effects, Frei said. The study concluded that “lipoic acid supplementation may be a promising approach to prevent weight gain and to lower cardiovascular disease risk in humans.”