Lipoic acid: Significant benefits for aging pets?
Cognitive function has not been considered a criterion for evaluating nutrient requirements, but the benefits derived from lipoic acid regarding memory may merit reconsideration.
A great deal has been written about α-lipoic acid in the last few years. Based on some of these articles, this compound could be a veritable fountain of youth for our aging pets. In humans and rodents, α-lipoic acid has been associated with improved cognition during aging, repair of nerve damage associated with diabetic neuropathy, and recovery during various exercise and fitness activities. There are a few pet diets on the market that contain α-lipoic acid along with a supporting cast of other antioxidants and co-factors. These are promoted as beneficial to retention of mental faculties in the aging dog. The idea is that α-lipoic acid may play a part in extending the mental-emotional bond between man and pet farther into advanced age. So, is there more to this story regarding α-lipoic acid in pet diets and are there any drawbacks?
For starters, α-Lipoic acid is a naturally occurring sulfur-containing compound that was first isolated from liver. It was once considered a vitamin until synthesis de novo from cysteine (sulfur source) and octanoate was discovered. α-Lipoic acid is a coenzyme involved in mitochondrial respiration. It acts as both an electron and acyl-group acceptor and is a potent antioxidant in the reduced state. Plus, it is both water and fat soluble and able to cross the blood-brain barrier. Much of the centralized theory of aging focuses on the mitochondria, and the idea that if this organelle of the cell can be spared or supported, it will continue to supply adenosine triphosphate…