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TRAVCON CANDIDATES

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Alpha-lipoic acid or ALA is a naturally occurring compound that's made in the body. It serves vital functions at the cellular level, such as energy production. As long as you're healthy, the body can produce all the ALA it needs for these purposes. Despite that fact, there has been a lot of recent interest in using ALA supplements. Advocates of ALA make claims that range from beneficial effects for treating conditions such as diabetes and HIV to enhancing weight loss.


Research on the effects of ALA supplementation is sparse. What there is, though, does suggest some possible benefits. Here is what's known about the potential health benefits of using alpha-lipoic acid supplements.


There are food sources of ALA such as yeast, organ meats like liver and heart, spinach, broccoli, and potatoes. However, ALA from food does not appear to produce a noticeable increase in the level of free ALA in the body.


While studies are still sparse, there is some evidence that ALA may have at least two positive benefits for individuals with type 2 diabetes. A few studies have suggested that alpha-lipoic acid supplements may enhance the body's ability to use its own insulin to lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. ALA may help reduce the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy -- nerve damage that can be caused by diabetes.


In Europe, ALA has been used for years to provide relief from the pain, burning, tingling, and numbing caused by diabetic neuropathy. In particular, one large study strongly suggested that large intravenous doses of ALA were effective at relieving symptoms. But the evidence for oral doses is not as strong. More research is needed to establish the effectiveness of oral ALA supplements for diabetic neuropathy.


ALA has been suggested as a potential aid in stopping or slowing the damage done by a variety of other health conditions from HIV to liver disease. However, much of the research is still early and evidence isn't conclusive.


Side effects from using ALA supplements appear to be rare and mild, such as skin rash. However, little is known about the possible effect of long-term use of ALA supplements. And there are no dosage recommendations and little data on the potential effect of large doses taken over time.


ALA should not be used without a recommendation from your doctor if you take insulin or other medications to lower blood sugar. It's possible that it can enhance the effect of these drugs, leading to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Discuss the use of supplemental ALA with your doctor first. Your doctor may recommend that you increase monitoring of blood sugar levels. The doctor may also want to make an adjustment in your medication.


Because no studies have been done on the effect of using ALA during pregnancy, you should not use it if pregnant. Also, there are no data about its use by children, so children should not take ALA supplements.


We provide resources to help countless Americans manage lung diseases, such as asthma, COPD, lung cancer and pulmonary fibrosis. We also help people overcome their addiction to tobacco products and live healthier lives.


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