The Relationship of 5-Aminolevulinic Acid on Mood and Coping Ability in Prediabetic Middle Aged and Older Adults

Geriatrics (Basel). 2018 Jun;3(2):17. doi: 10.3390/geriatrics3020017. Epub 2018 Apr 4.


In 2010, approximately 79 million Americans had prediabetes and about 50 percent of those individuals were 65 years and older. The most effective diabetes prevention method in prediabetic adults is lifestyle modification. However, despite the benefits of lifestyle change, diabetes prevalence continues to increase. Maintaining a regular exercise routine and a healthy eating plan may be difficult because of the negative emotional barriers (i.e., stress, mood) that a prediabetic individual faces. This is particularly evident in older individuals when you combine that with decreases in mobility and geriatric syndromes. A potential treatment for these emotional barriers is a natural supplement called 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA). In the current study, the group included 154 participants, both men and women, ranging between the ages of 41 to 71 years old. The study design was a double-blind, randomized parallel-group study. The Psychosocial Depressive Symptoms Questionnaire (PDS) and the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) were used to examine the effect of two doses of 5-ALA (15 mg and 50 mg) on various components of mood (i.e., hopefulness, loneliness, and motivation) and coping ability. Using SAS software, an ordered logistic regression model was used to analyze the association between the dose groups (control, 15 mg, and 50 mg) and the responses to the two questionnaires, the PDS and PSS, used in this study. An integrative literature review, using the PubMed database, searched for studies on the relationship between 5-ALA administration and mood and coping ability. Our literature review resulted in zero published articles. Next, we found that the intake of 5-ALA was significantly associated with improved coping ability (p = 0.004) and improved self-perception of effort spent (p = 0.002). Finally, we found a significant dose-dependent relationship for the association of 5-ALA intake on measures of effort (p = 0.003), loneliness (p = 0.006), and coping ability (p = 0.003). The 50 mg dose was more effective than the 15 mg dose in improving these measures. In conclusion, after 12 weeks of taking 5-ALA, we found significant improvements in self-perception of effort spent, loneliness, and coping ability in prediabetic middle age and older adults. Improved mood and coping ability may allow prediabetic individuals to overcome the emotional obstacles preventing them from maintaining a healthy lifestyle and ultimately, help them to avoid the development of diabetes.

Keywords: 5-ALA; coping ability; diabetes; mood; perceived stress scale; prediabetes.