Nowadays, the benefits of antioxidants for brain health, happiness, cognition, your skin, your mood, and your energy are well known. Antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, resveratrol and glutathione are all popular, but one antioxidant with particularly interesting powers is alpha lipoic acid.
ALA functions as a powerful antioxidant in its own right, being one of the only antioxidant types to cross the brain-blood barrier successfully. Alpha lipoic acid is both a fat soluble and water soluble antioxidant, allowing it to protect all kinds of tissues in your body. But what’s most interesting is that alpha lipoic acid can regenerate other antioxidants, like vitamin C and vitamin E.
Alpha lipoic acid is also highly anti-inflammatory when taken as a supplement; inflammation is the root cause of acne, and contributes to brain problems and aching muscles. It’s even able to detoxify heavy metals like mercury, cadmium and lead.
This supplement isn’t fully understood, but has massive potential. Alpha lipoic acid occurs naturally in animal foods like eggs, liver and beef, and vegetables like broccoli and spinach, but the best source is easily supplements. But which is the best brand?
Firstly, always monitor your body for side effects. The side effects of alpha lipoic acid may include skin rashes, sweating, weakness, and headaches; discontinue supplementation if you notice them. Never exceed the recommended dosage on the bottle, and always stay at or below 600mg of ALA daily.
For a shortcut, the very best brands here are Simply Nature’s Pure and Geronova Research.
Let’s get started:
One – Simply Nature’s Pure
Simply Nature’s Pure meets every single requirement, beginning with a pure additive list of just the vegetable capsule. There’s no soy, magnesium stearate, nor unhealthy fillers to be found.
The second advantage is a powerful dosage of 600mg of alpha lipoic acid per capsule, beating countless weaker brands, which sometimes contain just 100mg. The capsules are normal sized and easy to swallow, at approximately 0.75 inches.
Simply Nature’s Pure is also an honest and reputable brand, being clear about what each capsule contains: the ALA is divided into 300mg each of the R-ALA and S-ALA forms. This brand is manufactured exclusively in the USA, in a Good Manufacturing Practices certified facility.
Finally, compared to ALA brands which offer a similar dosage and purity, Simply Nature’s Pure is highly affordable, featuring a 120 strong capsule count for a proper, 4 month testing supply.
If alpha lipoic acid is what you need, Simply Nature’s Pure will easily succeed.
Amazon link: Simply Nature’s Pure Alpha Lipoic Acid.
Two – Dr Danielle
Another powerful ALA for the expert supplement enthusiast. The overall dosage of Dr Danielle is slightly lower than Simply Nature’s Pure, with 550mg per capsule, but the product itself is equally pure.
The only additive is the vegetable capsule, with no soy or magnesium stearate, while Dr Danielle’s is a particularly well-trusted brand, with over 1000 positive reviews. This brand is also free from animal ingredients, perfect for vegans, and manufactured in the USA in a GMP compliant facility.
Dr Danielle is in a split form, consisting of 300mg of r-ALA and 250mg of s-ALA, which brings us to an important fact – alpha lipoic acid exists as both a natural R isomer and a synthetic S isomer. The former is naturally found in foods like eggs, liver, and kidneys, but the latter is synthesised in a laboratory. Most ALA supplements today consist of an equal split between the two; if there’s no specific breakdown on the ingredients label, it’s almost guaranteed.
Importantly, R-ALA is significantly more bioavailable in humans, with S-ALA having limited benefits, but the S isomer increases the stability of the supplement. Some dislike the inclusion of a weaker ingredient, but overall, standard 50/50 split brands are highly effective, with Dr Danielle being slightly superior. Elsewhere, the capsules are the standard size you’ll find everywhere, about 0.75 inches and easy to take.
Doctor Danielle’s is another excellent ALA supplement, easily beating most grocery store formulations.
Amazon link: Dr. Danielle Alpha Lipoic Acid.
Three – Mental Refreshment Nutrition
Mental Refreshment Nutrition is another brand with a particularly powerful dosage, of 600mg per capsule. This is a pure and dedicated ALA, with no fancy extras; just alpha lipoic acid so that you can discover whether it’s right for you, and enjoy its powerful benefits if it is.
The breakdown of the R and S isomers isn’t listed, meaning that Mental Refreshment Nutrition probably contains the normal 300mg of each, combining effectiveness and stability. Mental Refreshment Nutrition contains gelatin and rice flour as its additives, the former for the capsule and the latter for a harmless filler. Therefore, this brand isn’t vegan, but if your only concern is purity, it’s perfect.
Mental Refreshment Nutrition is a reliable brand, manufactured in the USA, rather than a Chinese laboratory making ALA for the cheapest possible cost. Like Simply Nature’s Pure, it’s also strangely affordable. The final advantage is a 30 day money back guarantee, and a high 180-strong capsule count.
Mental Refreshment Nutrition meets every requirement for a powerful alpha lipoic acid supplement.
Amazon link: Mental Refreshment Alpha Lipoic Acid.
Four – We Like Vitamins
We Like Vitamins is identical; it contains 180 capsules of 600mg, with the only additives being gelatin and rice powder. The product is manufactured in the USA in a GMP certified facility, while there’s also a 30 day refund guarantee.
There’s no breakdown of the isomers given, and therefore a probable 300mg split between R-ALA and S-ALA, the split tested in most studies. We Like Vitamins is a perfect brand if Mental Refreshment Nutrition becomes temporarily unavailable, and a perfect brand in general.
Why do I generally recommend the S-ALA and R-ALA combination? Simply because almost every promising study was conducted on the standard 50/50 split form, which is also known as racemic ALA, including the great studies on heavy metal detoxification, anti-inflammatory properties, and antioxidant powers.
Additionally, while the R-form does have high uptake in the small intestine, the S-form stabilises the uptake, preventing polymerisation, degradation when exposed to air, moisture or high temperaturea. R-alpha lipoic acid is doubtlessly the more effective of the two, but a split product like We Like Vitamins is ideal.
We Like Vitamins is a particularly powerful and effective alpha lipoic acid supplement.
Amazon link: We Like Vitamins Alpha Lipoic Acid.
Five – Pure Encapsulations
Pure Encapsulations is among the supplement companies with the most stringent quality controls, with independent laboratories testing all of their raw materials for heavy metals like cadmium, arsenic, mercury, and lead, over 70 types of pesticides, and over 30 solvents.
Each batch of ALA is tested for purity and potency, while the ingredients list too meets the standards: just ascorbyl palmitate, hypoallergenic plant fiber (cellulose) and the vegetable capsule (cellulose water).
What about the ALA itself? The dosage is 200mg per capsule, while no breakdown of the isomers is given, meaning that there’s probably 100mg of S-ALA and R-ALA each per capsule. The only real downside with Pure Encapsulations is that it’s very expensive considering its lower dosage compared to We Like Vitamins or Doctor Danielle, but it’s perfect if the price is no barrier. The capsule count is 60, while there’s no magnesium stearate nor soy to be found.
Pure Encapsulations is a supreme alpha lipoic acid, for taking no shortcuts in quality.
Amazon link: Pure Encapsulations Alpha Lipoic Acid.
Six – Boostceuticals
An ALA brand which claims to be “a high potency powerful universal antioxidant“, which is fairly true, given how ALA regenerates other antioxidants like vitamin C. Boostceuticals is a pure ALA brand, with only rice powder and gelatin as its additives. It’s manufactured in the USA, in accordance with the Good Manufacturing Practises code.
Each capsule contains 300mg of ALA, with 180 capsules supplied, but the bottle recommends taking 2 daily for 600mg. Again, there’s no information given about the isomer split, so it’s likely 150mg of each per capsule. Boostceuticals is guaranteed to be from soy, wheat and magnesium stearate.
Boostceuticals is an obscure, yet premium quality alpha lipoic acid supplement. An important question, however, is what about food sourced ALA? The concentrations are too weak to make a difference.
Both animal foods and vegetables are sources, and from strongest to weakest, here are some example concentrations per 100 grams: spinach (0.315mg), cow kidney (0.264mg), broccoli (0.094mg), tomato (0.56mg), and brussel sprouts (0.039mg). Food can be a nice bonus, but it will never equal a supplement of 600mg. Note that food based ALA consists of lipoyllysine, a well-absorbed protein-bound form.
If your goal is to experiment with alpha lipoic acid, Boostceuticals is the supplement for you.
Amazon link: Alpha Lipoic Acid by BoostCeuticals.
Seven – Geronova Research
With Geronova Research we have a special alpha lipoic acid supplement brand, because unlike every brand here, it consists solely of R-alpha lipoic acid. The better absorbed form compared to the synthetic, moderately effective, but inferior S-alpha lipoic acid.
Firstly, Geronova Research contains 100mg per capsule, a good dosage since less is required with R-ALA. The only additives are cellulose, hypromellose, sodium bicarbonate, and silicon dioxide; it doesn’t waste its high potency with unnecessary additives. The capsule count is 90, while the price is higher, but worth paying for if you want optimal effectiveness.
As for the R-ALA, Geronova Research is in the sodium bound NA-R-ALA form. R-ALA is a highly reactive and unstable molecule in the body, degrading in response to air, light and moisture easily. That’s why it’s usually bound with S-ALA, and why pure R-ALA supplements are so hard to make…
…but binding the R-ALA makes it significantly more stable in the human body, increasing its absorption and effectiveness. This sodium portion is why baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is one of the additives. Additionally, this gives each pill a tiny 25mg of sodium (1% of the RDI).
If you’re determined to buy the most effective ALA possible, Geronova Research is the brand for you.
Amazon link: Geronova Research R Lipoic Acid.
Eight – Superior Labs
An alpha lipoic acid supplement with a powerful 600mg dosage, coming in a 120 capsule bottle for a 4 month supply, easily enough to lower your inflammation levels. Superior Labs is among the greatest natural supplement companies, with their magnesium and maca root being stellar.
Like Pure Encapsulations, they rigorously test every ingredient and finished batch for heavy metals and pesticide contamination. In fact, Superior Labs even tests their plant ingredients like cellulose for harmful bacteria and microbes which are common in foods.
The additives are similarly pure: only vegetable cellulose and rice flour are included. This alpha lipoic acid almost certainly contains an even split, with 300mg of S-ALA and R-ALA each, since the bottle doesn’t specify the forms. Superior Labs is manufactured in the USA and strictly follows the GMP code.
Superior Labs is free from magnesium stearate, like every brand listed here. Another advantage with ALA, whether it’s Superior Labs or the most poorly produced ALA, is its dual fat soluble and water soluble properties. Vitamin C can only be absorbed alongside water. With vitamin E, you have to consume butter or another fat. Alpha lipoic acid can be absorbed with either, and also hoovers up free radicals in both fatty tissues and water-based tissues around the body.
Superior Labs is another alpha lipoic acid which is unbeatable for purity.
Amazon link: Superior Labs Alpha Lipoic Acid.
Nine – NutraBio
This is a supplement of 150 capsules of 150 servings. There’s no specific breakdown of the isomers, but with 300mg per capsule, there’s probably 150mg of the S form and R form each. The dosage is slightly lower than We Like Vitamins or Simply Nature’s Pure, but the price is also significantly lower.
The additives list is empty, reading simply “cellulose”. NutraBio is an excellent supplement company; I’ve never seen a product made by them without maximum purity, and their zinc is among the best. NutraBio also has a 30 day refund guarantee, and is made in a US, GMP certified facility.
Like Boostceuticals, NutraBio’s ALA is unknown by most people, but beats the majority of popular brands.
Amazon link: NutraBio Alpha Lipoic Acid.
Ten – Bestvite
Bestvite is an alpha lipoic acid which takes NutraBio’s qualities to an extreme. Except for the R-alpha lipoic acid focussed Geronova Research, it’s the weakest brand here, with only 100mg per capsule. On the other hand, Bestvite is easily the cheapest brand here too.
Bestvite is therefore perfect for a lower dosage experiment, for a more cautious approach. Elsewhere, Bestvite is as pure and potent as a supplement enthusiast could hope for, with only the gelatin capsule and rice flour as its additives.
The capsule count is huge, at 240. Bestvite is also confirmed to be from any dodgy additives like soy, corn and wheat. Magnesium stearate is also happily absent.
Bestvite doesn’t quite match We Like Vitamins or Simply Nature’s Plus, but beats most other alpha lipoic acids on the market.
Amazon link: Bestvite Alpha Lipoic Acid.
Since alpha lipoic acid remains a mysterious supplement, particularly in relation to acne and whether its antioxidant powers will protect your skin or not, I would advise you to monitor your body particularly closely when taking this supplement.
Which is the best brand? Simply Nature’s Pure cannot be beaten for combined alpha lipoic acid, but if the price tag is no barrier, Geronova Research is ideal for maximum effectiveness.
The overall market for alpha lipoic acid isn’t terrible, but there’s evidence of completely fraudulent brands which contain only a fraction of the ALA they claim to. The brands above are all reputable, with most selling other trusted and highly reviewed supplements.
Thanks for reading!