Alpha Lipoic Acid, also called Thioctic Acid, is a disulfide molecule (containing two thiol groups). A thiol (or -SH) consists of a sulfur and a hydrogen atom. This unique antioxidant is both lipid and water soluble, a potent promoter of glutathione and an important co-factor in energy metabolism.
Apha lipoic acid is unique in that, like vitamin C, it is effective as an antioxidant in water based tissues such as the blood, and yet as dihydrolipoic acid it also is effective in protecting fatty tissues and membranes, a role it shares with vitamin E. Thus alpha lipoic acid and dihydrolipoic acid together function as a universal antioxidant, meaning an antioxidant that quenches free radicals in both lipid and water-soluble portions of tissues and cells.
Alpha lipoic acid is an important component in the production of energy from carbohydrates. It is involved throughout the complex multienzyme process that catalyzes glucose (blood sugar) into energy. Also, alpha lipoic acid both stimulates insulin activity and reduces insulin resistance.