What Are the Most Common Alpha Lipoic Acid Side Effects?

Women who are breastfeeding should not take alpha lipoic acid.
Side effects of alpha lipoic acid may include heart palpitations.
Individuals with thyroid disease should not take ALA in large doses.
Hypoglycemia is one possible side effect of taking ALA.
Article Details
  • Written By: Susan Elliott
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article

Alpha lipoic acid, or ALA, is an antioxidant with very few side effects associated with it. The most common side effects of alpha lipoic acid include heart palpitations, reduced thiamine levels, and hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia is a condition in which a person develops low blood sugar. Women who are nursing or are pregnant should not use alpha lipoic acid supplements, because of the lack of clinical studies on how it could affect a developing fetus.

Diabetics are among the population that may experience alpha lipoic acid side effects when taking ALA supplements. They should only use alpha lipoic acid supplements under medical supervision, and it is important that diabetics who are taking ALA have their blood sugar checked regularly. A hypoglycemic reaction is most common in diabetics, because ALA has been known to lower blood sugar levels. The general population should not be concerned with developing hypoglycemia from ALA.

People who have thyroid disease, hypothyroidism, or hyperthyroidism should avoid taking ALA in large doses. Possible side effects of alpha lipoic acid such as heart palpitations can be common in these patients. This is due to the fact that these supplements can interact with the use of thyroid medications like levothyroxine and Synthroid®. While heart palpitations are not usually fatal, they can be unpleasant. Studies show that small doses of alpha lipoic acid are well tolerated by thyroid patients.


The use of alpha lipoic acid can contribute to thiamine deficiency, also known as a vitamin B1 deficiency. A sufficient level of thiamine is required in order for the body to properly use carbohydrates. People deficient in thiamine are at risk for cardiovascular, neurological, and gastrointestinal problems. The consumption of large amounts of alcohol while taking ALA supplements is believed to be the main cause for insufficient levels of thiamine in supplement users.

ALA is often referred to as the universal antioxidant because of its soluble properties. Alpha lipoic acid dissolves in both water and fat. This nutrient is produced naturally by the body, so it is considered safe for use by most people. ALA can be found in some vegetables and organ meats. There are no reported alpha lipoic acid side effects from consuming foods containing alpha lipoic acid.

Some doctors recommend a daily dose of ALA for its antioxidant properties. The typical dosage of alpha lipoic acid is 800 mg per day. Anyone considering taking it should consult a physician before adding alpha lipoic acid supplements into the daily diet. If any alpha lipoic acid side effects occur, users should discontinue the use of ALA and seek medical attention.


More from Wisegeek

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

Post 3

@burcinc-- I've actually been taking 800mg of ALA daily and I'm diabetic. I agree that diabetics need to be careful with this supplement and start off at the lowest possible dose and check their blood sugar. That's what I did and I have gone up to 800mg without side effects.

It can reduce blood sugar in some diabetics but not all. It hasn't done that with me. The only issue I have with it is upset stomach if I take ALA on an empty stomach. If I take it with my meal or afterward, I have no problems.

Post 2

This is a great article. It's very objective and straightforward!

There seems to be a common assumption that ALA is safe for diabetics. People, even diabetics themselves, think that since they suffer from high blood sugar, ALA will benefit them by lowering their sugar levels. That's not true because it could also lower it too much and cause a diabetic to go into a coma. And this applies not just to type one diabetics, but type two as well. Both are at risk for too high and too low blood sugar levels.

I'm not denying the benefits of alpha lipoic acid. But I also can't believe that some websites actually recommend ALA supplements to diabetics and that too, up to 800mg! That's pretty dangerous in my view! Diabetics should get their ALA naturally through foods like broccoli and spinach.

Post 1

My friend is using this antioxidant and she keeps talking about alpha lipoic acid benefits. She says that it's really great. She has been feeling much more energetic and healthy since she started taking it.

I was excited to try it out too, but I guess I can't because I have hypothyroidism. I know a small dose might be okay, but I'd rather not take any risks. I take thyroid hormone medication every morning and some of the medication is in my system all the time. So it will probably counteract with ALA unfortunately.

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?