The natural products market in North America is saturated with products that claim to boost the metabolism to take off the pounds. You can find a hydroxycut caffeine-free fat burner, a liquid
gel green tea product, and a variety of supplements that claim to correct "glucose intolerance" (the mainstream term is "insulin resistance") specifically to help diabetics lose weight. A research study published just in February 2008, however, suggests that a combination of two safe and inexpensive supplements may:
*Enlarge and activate the mitochondria ("energy machinery") inside adipose tissue to oxidize lipids
*Activate insulin to transport glucose and fatty acids out of the bloodstream to fat cells with these activated mitochondria and
*Do all this without accelerating the heart rate or interfering with the action of thyroid ormones.
These two supplements are lipoic acid and L-carnitine.
Alpha-lipoic acid, or ALA as it's commonly called, counteracts the glycation, or "caramelizing" of hemoglobin proteins in the blood. This takes stress off the kidneys, and it also gives diabetics lower HbA1C numbers at their regular checkups. The most common form of ALA contains a mixture of chemical isomers, one of which can be used by the body (R-lipoic acid) and one that can't (the S-form of the same molecule), but every ALA supplement is at least 50 per cent bioavailable.
L-carnitine is not as well known but has some applications in diabetes, too. There's a growing body of evidence that taking 200 to 2,000 mg of L-carnitine a day may protect diabetic brain tissue.
And it was brain specialists at the University of California at Irvine and Shanghai's Institutes of Biological Sciences in China who seem to have uncovered the potential for a combination of lipoic acid and L-carnitine to aid weight control
In research just published in February 2008, the scientists exposed adipose cells to lipoic acid, L-carnitine, or a mixture of the two. Neither lipoic acid nor L-carnitine by itself had much effect on the activity of fat cells. Together, however, the two antioxidants caused the energy making organelles known as the mitochondria to literally grow overnight, burning more fatty acids and more glucose.
The combination of lipoic acid and L-carnitine also stimulated the uptake of fatty acids and sugars in the same way as the drugs Actos and Avandia with one critical difference. Actos and Avandia just get the sugar out of the bloodstream and into storage. Lipoic acid and L-carnitine
get the sugar and fat into a fat cell that's primed to burn it.
While taking 2,000 mg a day of both supplements won't hurt you (be sure to take supplemental biotin if you take lipoic acid), this study does not establish with scientific certainty that the combination of lipoic acid and L-carnitine will act as an effective diet aid. The scientists used cells taken from lab rats, not humans, and the level of the experiment was laboratory, not clinical. Still, as a way of enhancing weight loss without caffeine or thyroid hormone, this study is a very
important first step.
Robert Rister is the author or co-author of nine books on natural health including the critically acclaimed Complete German Commission E Monographs and Healing without Medication. Visit his daily natural health news website at Savvy Natural Healer. Read a more in-depth technical article on this topic here.
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