Lipoic Acid Stimulates Weigh Loss

By increasing glucose metabolism and anti-inflammatory responses

Lipoid acid given as a dietary supplement to overweight but otherwise healthy people in a clinical trial caused many of the patients to slim down, say Oregon State University and Oregon Health & Science University scientists in the Journal of Nutrition. The study analyzed the effects of 24 weeks of daily, 600-milligram doses of lipoic acid supplements on 31 people, with a similarly sized control group receiving a placebo.

“The data clearly showed a loss in body weight and body fat in people taking lipoic acid supplements,” said Balz Frei, director emeritus of OSU’s Linus Pauling Institute. “Particularly in women and in the heaviest participants.”


Produced by both plants and animals, lipoic acid sets up shop in cells’ mitochondria where it's normally attached to proteins involved in energy and amino-acid metabolism. A specialized, medium-chain fatty acid, its unique double sulfur atoms are located at one end of the chain, allowing for the transfer of electrons from other sources.

The body generally produces enough lipoic acid to supply the enzymes whose proper function requires it. When taken as a dietary supplement, lipoic acid displays additional properties that might be unrelated to the function in the mitochondria. They include the stimulation of glucose metabolism, antioxidant defenses and anti-inflammatory responses—making it a possible complementary treatment for people with diabetes, heart disease, and age-related cognitive decline.


Many previous studies have used the S form of lipoic acid, which is a product of industrial synthesis and not found in nature. This study only used the R form of lipoic acid that is found in the body naturally.

Contrary to what was expected by the researchers, decreased levels of triglycerides—a type of fat, or lipid, found in the blood—were not seen in all the participants taking lipoic acid.

But people who lost weight on lipoic acid also reduced their blood triglyceride levels—that effect was clear. Other effects of the lipoic acid supplements were measurable as well.

By the end of the study, some markers of inflammation declined. The findings also suggest that lipoic acid supplementation provides a mild reduction in oxidative stress.

ReferenceGerd Bobe, Alexander J Michels, Wei-Jian Zhang, Jonathan Q Purnell, Clive Woffendin, Cliff Pereira, Joseph A Vita, Nicholas O Thomas, Maret G Traber, Balz Frei, Tory M Hagen. A Randomized Controlled Trial of Long-Term (R)-α-Lipoic Acid Supplementation Promotes Weight Loss in Overweight or Obese Adults without Altering Baseline Elevated Plasma Triglyceride Concentrations. The Journal of Nutrition, 2020; DOI: 10.1093/jn/nxaa203
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