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April 28, 2008

Lipoic Acid & Triglycerides

Lipoic acid supplements lowered blood triglyceride levels by up to 60% in a study of...

A study recently done on rats showed that lipoic acid supplementation lowered blood triglyceride levels by up to 60%. It is not yet known if lipoic acid will do the same for humans. Lipoic acid has been previously found to be safe when taken by humans as a dietary supplement.

[L]ipoic acid worked in two different ways. It not only lowered the amount of dietary triglycerides that entered the blood; it also lowered the amount of triglycerides the animals manufactured from scratch.

Triglycerides are a type of fat. People with a high blood triglyceride level have an increased risk of stroke and heart disease. Average triglyceride levels in the U.S. have risen about five−fold in the last twenty−five years. While high triglyceride levels are sometimes due to metabolic causes, they're generally caused by diet. Eating less fat and exercising more are the best ways to keep triglyceride levels low. For those who can't or won't do this, help may be on the way.

A team at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University studied the effect of lipoic acid on triglyceride levels in Zucker diabetic fatty rats. These rats naturally develop skyrocketing levels of fat in the blood as they age; no cheeseburgers needed. In the study, rats that received no lipoic acid had their triglycerides rise more than four−fold as they aged; rats that were given lipoic acid had their triglycerides merely double. This is a decrease of about 60%. The researchers say that the amount of lipoic acid given to the rats was the equivalent of about two grams a day for a 150−pound person.

The researchers found that lipoic acid worked in two different ways. It not only lowered the amount of dietary triglycerides that entered the blood; it also lowered the amount of triglycerides the animals manufactured from scratch. Should lipoic acid do this in humans, it would aid not only those who eat too much fat but also those whose metabolisms are out of whack and overproducing triglycerides.

Lipoic acid is an essential coenzyme. It's a small sulfur−containing fatty acid, so basic to survival that it's found in small amounts in nearly every type of food. However, it's not immediately available for usage from dietary sources; people make their own.

While most medications prescribed to lower the amount of fat in the blood have undesirable side effects, lipoic acid has a modest track record of administration to humans without known side effects. It's been used for decades in Europe to combat some of the side effects of diabetes; it lowers the amount of glucose in the blood, transporting some of it into muscle tissue.

No trials on humans have yet been scheduled.

An article detailing this study is currently in press for publication in a future issue of the Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics. An online proof of this article was published February 20, 2009.

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