Get to Know Alpha-Linoleic Acid: The Unique Antioxidant

Alpha-Linoleic Acid

Alpha-linoleic is an antioxidant, a special substance that protects the body against the effects of free-radicals. Free radicals can be some natural by-products of fat metabolism. But it can also be derived from harmful gases and pollution from the air. Free radicals can damage cells and tissues within the body and sometimes decrease the activity of the immune system, making the body more prone to the invasion of infection-causing bacteria and viruses.

Alpha-linoleic acid is not just another antioxidant. It is quite unique. Do you want to know why?

  • Alpha-linoleic acid is produced within the body. Unlike other antioxidants, alpha-linoleic acid can be synthesized within the body. In fact, it can be found within each cell and works as a protective substance against harmful effects of the damaging free radicals .
  • Alpha-linoleic acid is both water and fat soluble. Most antioxidants can be either fat soluble , like vitamin E, or water-soluble, like vitamin C. Alpha-linoleic acid is so unique because it is both water and fat soluble in nature. This only means that is can function in any environmental condition within our body, making our cells always protected.
  • Alpha-linoleic acid can regenerate. Unlike other antioxidants that depletes after attacking the free radicals roaming within the human body, the alpha-linoleic acid can regenerate and it can even make other antioxidants regenerate too! This somehow makes alpha-linoleic acid a rescuer and  antioxidant of all antioxidants.

What are the benefits of Alpha-linoleic acid?

  • Improve blood sugar level and other symptoms in diabetic patients. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, alpha-linoleic acid may decrease and normalize blood sugar level in diabetic patients. Furthermore, it can also decrease the discomfort and pain, known as diabetic neuropathy, in patients with diabetes. This is, in fact, the basis of giving alpha-linoleic acid intravenous medication in patients with diabetes in Europe. However, the oral forms of alpha-linoleic acid seem to be less effective for this purpose.
  • Liver protection. As mentioned by the University of Maryland Medical Center, some doctors are giving alpha linoleic acid to patients with alcoholic liver disease and in patients who happen to ingest Amanita mushroom, a liver-damaging mushroom. However, there is not much clinical studies that support this practice.
  • Improvement of brain function in stroke. Some scientists are now looking into the possible protective effect of alpha-linoleic acid in stroke, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. The alpha-linoleic acid can easily pass the blood brain barrier and it is known to protect nerve tissues from some harmful substances. However, further clinical investigation is necessary to further establish this fact.
  • Glaucoma. Some small scale studies suggest that alpha-linoleic acid may improve symptoms of glaucoma, the increase in pressure within the eyeball which may result into vision defects. However, these studies are only in their infancy stage. Further work up is necessary to make it acceptable in the medical community.

What are the special precautions you should observe with alpha-linoleic acid?

  • The intake of alpha-linoleic acid should only be done with the guidance of a qualified health care professional.
  • Alpha-linoleic acid can sometimes cause side effects, the most common of which is the skin rash.
  • Alpha-linoleic acid can sometimes cause excessive decrease in the blood sugar level.  These diabetic patients who are using anti-diabetic medications should only take this antioxidant with the go-signal of their physician.
  • Patients who are alcoholics with vitamin B1 deficiency should never attempt to take alpha-linoleic acid unless instructed by their physicians, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
  • Patients with hypothyroidism or are taking thyroid hormones should never take alpha-linoleic acid supplements since some studies reveal that alpha-linoleic acid may decrease the levels of thyroid hormones within the body.

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