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Alpha-Lipoic Acid: Extra Help Taming Diabetes

Author: Denise Webb, PhD, RD
Source: Excerpt from Extra Help Taming Diabetes,

Researchers have discovered that this potent antioxidant (experts say it’s more potent than vitamins E or C) may be an effective treatment for a common complication of diabetes, known as diabetic neuropathy, which develops when high blood sugar levels damage delicate nerve endings. The result is a stabbing, tingling, and burning pain in the legs, feet, and hands, especially at night. In Germany, alpha-lipoic acid is a prescription drug used to treat diabetic neuropathy.

“I recommend alpha-lipoic to my patients with diabetic neuropathy who haven’t been helped by conventional treatments,” says Aaron Vinik, MD, PhD, director of the Strelitz Diabetes Research Institute at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk. “Clinical trials are underway in the U.S.,” he says, “but the results won’t be in for a few years.”

It may also help control blood sugar in diabetics, possibly by lowering insulin levels and increasing the transport of sugar into cells.

Alpha-lipoic acid is found in small amounts in some foods–spinach and meat, for example–but not enough to make a real difference. For that, studies show you need 600 to 1,200 mg a day, amounts that can come only from supplements.