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Alpha Lipoic Acid May Boost the Metabolic Benefits of Exercise

1 February 2019
Connie Packer

Cycling Exercise for Better Metabolism

Have you noticed more people running in your neighborhood, participating in your exercise activities, or showing up at your gym? January is notorious for gym membership sales, as people set health goals for the new year. In areas frigid at the start of the New Year, like mine, people flock to indoor activities. Even my 6 year old son, wanting to get bigger and stronger like Mom and Dad, appeared in his workout shorts this morning to do his adorable version of pushups and jumping jacks.

As a muscle is exercised, it gets larger and burns more calories at rest. The first study below looks specifically at the effects that antioxidant supplementation has on Interleukin-15. Interleukin-15 is a cytokine protein primarily expressed in type II (fast twitch) muscle fibers and stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis, fat oxidation, glucose uptake, and myogenesis in skeletal muscle. These are activities we want our cells to be doing more. This study shows that increasing antioxidant activity is potentially one way to increase the effectiveness of exercise.

Alpha Lipoic Acid may amplify the metabolic benefits of intense exercise in muscle fibers. Antioxidants Facilitate High-intensity Exercise IL-15 Expression in Skeletal Muscle. Interleukin-15 (IL-15) expression has been shown to increase after endurance training, but it does not increase after a single session of resistance or endurance exercise. It is hypothesized that reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (RONS) inhibit IL-15 production. Researchers had 9 physically active males, aged 19-30 years old, go through 4 exercise test trials in random order. These trials included a placebo or a supplement, and normal air or low oxygen conditions. Two hours before the trial, participants received a placebo or an antioxidant supplement with 300mg Alpha Lipoic Acid, 500mg Vitamin C, and 200 IU Vitamin E. Thirty minutes before the trial, they again received a placebo or a supplement that contained the same antioxidants as the earlier supplement but with an additional 200 IU Vitamin E. Participants sat on a cycle for four minutes breathing room air or hypoxic air, then cycled at 100 rpm for 30 seconds while VO2 was recorded every 5 seconds. Quadricep muscle biopsy and blood samples were taken 30 minutes before sitting on the cycle, within 10 seconds of stopping the cycling, and then 30 and 120 minutes later. When participants received the antioxidants, there was an increase in IL-15 production after the sprint exercise, and more so after acute hypoxia. The researchers attributed the increased IL-15 production to a decreased glycolytic rate and decreased exercise-related RONS. By increasing the production of IL-15, the antioxidant supplements taken before intense exercise may amplify mitochondrial biogenesis, fat oxidation, glucose uptake, and myogenesis in skeletal muscle.

Omega 3 may enhance blood flow to the brain in response to stimuli. Effects of Long Chain Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids on Brain Function in Mildly Hypertensive Older Adults. This study involved 38 adults, aged 40-85, with mild hypertension (systolic blood pressure between 130 and 160 mmHg or diastolic blood pressure between 85 and 100 mmHg). Participants were given a corn oil placebo or Omega 3 supplements that provided 1600 mg DHA and 400 mg EPA daily. The researchers found no significant changes in mood or number of mood disturbances. They did, however, find some cognitive benefits that varied between women and men. The group of women who received supplementation were more resistant to hypercapnia: they performed better on cognitive tests after breathing high carbon dioxide air for 3 minutes if they had been taking the Omega 3 supplement. The group of men who received supplementation experienced greater vascular response to cognitive stimuli: as they started taking cognitive tests, their blood vessels responded with more dilation and increased blood flow through the middle cerebral artery of the brain if they had been taking the Omega 3 supplement. This increased blood flow corresponded to increased overall score on the cognitive tests and specifically tests of executive function. The researchers also pointed out that the higher cognitive test scores were correlated with greater red blood cell EPA content, and not DHA content. The researchers pointed out that the different effects of EPA and DHA deserve further investigation, as does the differing effects in women vs men.

High-dose Vitamin B Complex may protect the brain. The Effect of a High-Dose Vitamin B Multivitamin Supplement on the Relationship between Brain Metabolism and Blood Biomarkers of Oxidative Stress: A Randomized Control Trial. This study sought to investigate the influence of high-dose Vitamin B supplements on blood biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress and on neural markers of metabolism. The study involved 32 healthy adults, aged 30-65, that were part of a larger study on vitamin B supplements. Participants were assigned to a placebo or a supplement that included high doses of Vitamin B1 (thiamine), Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (nicotinamide/niacin), Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), and Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin). After 6 months of supplementation, they found that blood levels of B6 and B12 had increased and homocysteine level had decreased. Increased blood B6 levels were associated with increased choline and creatine levels. Increased blood B12 levels were associated with increased creatine level. Brain imaging (1H-MRS) revealed a trend toward increased N-acetylaspartate concentration, indicative of more myelination and more metabolism of oxidative molecules. These researchers concluded that high-dose Vitamin B supplementation may reduce oxidative stress (homocysteine) and inflammation by increasing the metabolism of oxidative molecules and may facilitate myelination and cellular metabolism in the brain.

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