Alpha-lipoic acid is a nutritional coenzyme that participates in the energy metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, with a particular role in blood glucose disposal. It is also able to scavenge a number of free radicals. Alpha-lipoic acid is unique among biological antioxidants, because it is soluble in both water and lipids. This allows it to neutralize free radicals just about everywhere in the body, inside and outside the cells. Due to its unique sulfur-containing structure, alpha-lipoic acid can scavenge several types of free radicals, such as the highly reactive hydroxyl, and singlet oxygen free radicals. It is also capable of suppressing the generation of free radicals in the first place, since alpha-lipoic acid chelates transition metals, such as iron and copper. Because alpha-lipoic acid is involved in so many different antioxidant functions in virtually all body tissues, it has been called the universal antioxidant. Besides being a universal free radical scavenger, alpha-lipoic acid can also recharge other antioxidant systems throughout the body. As mentioned earlier, it can extend the activity of vitamins C and E. In addition, alpha-lipoic acid can also regenerate glutathione. Coenzyme Q10 is an important rate-limiting nutrient that is a cofactor in the mitochondrial electron transport chain, the biochemical pathway in cellular respiration from which adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and metabolic energy is derived. Since nearly all cellular activities are dependent upon energy, coenzyme Q10 is essential for the health of all human tissues and organs, especially the heart.
Given the strength of the science that has been emerging for the use of supplemental CoQ10, it is important to ensure that optimal CoQ10 levels are achieved in the blood following supplementation. Biochemically, it functions much like vitamin E in that it participates in certain antioxidant and free radical reactions. Numerous studies indicate coenzyme Q10 also plays an important role in the maintenance of the entire cardiovascular system. Coenzyme Q10 is also important for the maintenance of blood vessels and heart muscle function. In addition, people taking statin drugs can develop deficiencies in coenzyme Q10 and may require supplementation.