When it comes to health, there are some powerful molecules that remain relatively unknown by the general population. Alpha-lipoic acid is just one of these important molecules, acting as an antioxidant and playing an integral role in cellular energy metabolism. There are two forms of alpha-lipoic acid: r-lipoic acid and s-lipoic acid. R-lipoic acid is the biologically-active form the human body prefers. The Na refers to the sodium salt that stabilizes the R-lipoic acid. The sodium makes it less likely to bind, keeping each molecule separate and more readily available for the body. 
What Does R-lipoic Acid Do?
Doctoru2019s Best Stab... Buy New $14.49 (as of 12:30 EST - Details) R-lipoic acid contributes to mitochondrial energy creation in cells. As part of the cellular energy process, it also has the ability to neutralize free radicals. Both mitochondrial function and cellular health are associated with the aging process, so it comes as no surprise that poor mitochondria and cellular function are also associated with accelerated aging. In addition to protecting against aging, lipoic acid also interacts with other antioxidants, such as vitamin C and glutathione, to protect cells.
Here are a few of the potential benefits of lipoic acid:
Alleviates Symptoms of COPD
Studies show lipoic acid improves overall vascular function associated with COPD. A recent double-blind, placebo-controlled study of patients suffering from COPD found lipoic acid contributed to better blood flow when compared to control. 
Encourages Muscle Recovery
During exercise, blood flow increases to muscles and muscle tissue breaks down through exertion. This is a normal process of muscle growth. Researchers report lipoic acid modulates the body’s inflammation response during this time of muscle catabolism and anabolism, encouraging a faster recovery.  In turn, lipoic acid reduces the soreness felt after exertion and, perhaps more importantly, reduces the physical stress of inflammation.
Protects the Brain
Antioxidants like lipoic acid are known to protect the brain from oxidative damage associated with aging and neurological disease. Lipoic acid has an added benefit in that it can cross the blood-brain barrier and neutralize free radicals, protecting the brain and nerve tissue. One study explored the effect of lipoic acid on a small group of seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. They observed that those taking the lipoic acid and fish oil combination experienced a slower cognitive decline over the 12-month period of the study.