Although your body can make alpha-lipoic acid, it’s generally found in very small amounts. So should you take a supplement? Read on and decide for yourself whether this supplement might be worth a try for you.
What is it?
Also known as thiotic acid, alpha-lipoic acid is a nutrient produced in very small amounts in our bodies and is also a powerful antioxidant. This means it has the ability to help neutralize free radicals which cause damage in our body.
People living with HIV may use this supplement to protect the liver (where many free radicals are produced), to treat peripheral neuropathy (like other antioxidants), to treat lipodystrophy (by improving insulin sensitivity), to prevent and treat HIV-related dementia (no evidence at this time) and to slow down HIV replication (no animal or human trials completed).
How do I take it?
It’s sold in capsule or tablet form at health food stores. The typical recommended dose is 300 mg per day, but some people take up to 600 mg per day. Because it affects the body’s absorption of minerals and most importantly, iron, it is recommended that alpha-lipoic acid be taken at the same time as a multi-vitamin.
Are there side effects?
There are no confirmed side effects of alpha-lipoic acid, though skin rash has been reported in people taking greater than 600 mg daily. Because it has effects on insulin in the body, insulin-dependent diabetics should exercise caution if taking this supplement and adjust insulin dose as needed.
Source: Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange Fact Sheet.