Taking care of your liver through supplementation

Modest estimates have suggested that we are exposed to more than 700 000 different toxic chemicals on a daily basis! Did you know that your liver is the organ that tries to protect your body from these toxins? The rest of this blog post will outline the major functions of the human liver and how supplementation can help maintain its health.

The liver is the largest internal organ in the human body, weighing about 1.5 kgs (Johns Hopkins Med). Its functions include nutrient and drug metabolism, detoxification, the breakdown of dietary fat, storage of iron and the formation of immune factors.  

With the liver performing so many crucial functions, it is absolutely important to maintain a healthy liver. Other than genetic diseases of the liver, liver problems can also be caused by viruses, alcohol consumption and obesity (Mayo clinic). 

What are the symptoms of a liver disease? 

The harmful substances that the liver has broken down are excreted into the bile or blood. The bile components enter the intestine and are excreted in the form of faeces. The by-products in the blood are filtered out by the kidneys, and leave the body in the form of urine. 

Therefore, although liver disease or damage doesn’t always cause noticeable signs and symptoms, watch out for (Mayo clinic): 

  • Dark coloured urine  
  • Pale stool colour 
  • Yellowish (“jaundiced”) skin and eyes  
  • Abdominal pain and swelling 
  • Swelling in the legs and ankles 

Other symptoms of liver disease may include: 

  • Chronic fatigue 
  • Nausea or vomiting 
  • A loss of appetite 
  • Easy bruising 
  • Itchy skin 

When you suspect liver disease or damage, contact your primary care physician immediately for an accurate, professional medical opinion.  

Why supplement for liver health? 

As outlined above, liver disease or damage is not always accompanied by symptoms. Since the liver is subjected to a daily toxin insult through our lifestyle (perfumes, room fresheners etc.), diet (alcohol, plastic food containers etc.) and medications, it would be prudent to ensure its health. 

Lifestyle modifications such as reducing alcohol consumption and smoking is surely a starting point. However, food supplementation can also greatly help. 

Food supplements for a healthy liver 

B-complex supports liver metabolism and repair

A mixture of the eight B-vitamins is often referred to as a B-complex supplement. The B vitamins serve several essential functions in the body. Folate (B9) and the vitamins B6 and B12, especially support special liver metabolism reactions (Halsted CH 2013). 

Folate plays an important role in the activation of genetic pathways that heal the liver upon injury (Halsted CH 2013). It is also essential for the production of glutathione, the principal antioxidant for defence against oxidative liver injury. 

Vitamins B6 and B12 are also important for glutathione production (Halsted CH 2013). 

It has been found therefore, that a deficiency of these 3 liver-essential vitamins can lead to liver injury upon alcohol consumption (Halsted CH 2013). Deficiency can also lead to liver cancer (Halsted CH 2013).  

Conversely, the inflammation of the liver due to hepatitis viral infection, can cause a deficiency of the B vitamins (Lin CC et al. 2011). This deficiency, can in turn lead to liver injury and other health complications. The supplementation of B-complex vitamins may, therefore, be helpful for hepatitis-infected patients as well. 

Do I need to take a B-complex supplement? 

If you have or had a viral hepatitis infection or consume alcohol regularly, then, as outlined above, B-complex supplementation can greatly benefit you.  

B-complex supplementation is also recommended if you are above the age of 50 since the body’s capacity to absorb them reduces with age (Healthline).  

Some of the B vitamins can only be obtained from animal sources. Therefore, vegans and vegetarians may also greatly benefit from vitamin B-complex supplementation. 

You can read more about the functions of single B vitamins here.  

Curcumin’s liver-protective effects  

Chronic liver diseases are often accompanied by increased oxidative stress and the degradation of proteins, lipids and DNA (Farzaei MH et al. 2018). These modifications result in progressive liver damage.  

Curcumin is a well-known, yellowish pigment extracted from the turmeric root. The curcuminoids contained in them contain a variety of functional antioxidant groups (Farzaei MH et al. 2018). Curcumin is, therefore, able to protect the liver from oxidative damage.  

Additionally, the effects of curcumin on liver-protection have been demonstrated (Bruno G 2006). 

Is liposomal curcumin better than a normal curcumin supplement? 

Curcumin is chemically stable between the acidic pH 1–6 (Dei Cas M et al. 2019).  However, it is practically insoluble in water in this pH range. The therapeutic potential of curcumin is, therefore, still debated due to a relatively poor bioavailability in humans, even when administered at a high dosage (12 g/day) (Dei Cas M et al. 2019). 

This is why we encapsulated curcumin in our liposomes and found that this increased the bioavailability by up to 47 times! This was after a single oral supplement of only 250 mg of our liposomal curcumin! 

Our liquid liposomal curcumin is 47-times more bioavailable than a non-liposomal supplement of the same dosage (250 mg). This is based on the amount of curcuminoids measured in blood plasma over several hours.

Contact us to find out more about our liposomal curcumin bioavailability studies.  

Zinc for and by the liver

Although a trace element, zinc is involved extensively in several bodily processes (EU Register). One in every ten human proteins is a zinc-containing protein and thus more than 300 human enzymes need zinc for their function (Grüngreiff K et al. 2016). 

The liver is the main organ responsible for zinc metabolism (Grüngreiff K et al. 2016). This means that liver disease or damage can cause a zinc deficiency or vice-versa. Many of the clinical features of liver cirrhosis have been linked to a deficiency in the body’s levels of zinc. This includes a loss of body hair, testicular atrophy, cerebral dysfunction, poor appetite, immune dysfunction, altered taste and smell, reduced vitamin A and thyroid hormone metabolism, altered protein metabolism, delayed wound healing and diminished drug elimination capacity (Grüngreiff K et al. 2016).  

A zinc deficiency may also induce oxidative stress and increase one’s vulnerability to subsequent conditions such as hepatitis (Grüngreiff K et al. 2016). Finally, a zinc deficiency can affect the liver’s capacity for regeneration. 

How much zinc should I consume for a healthy liver? 

The body of an adult weighing 70 kg contains a total of 2–3 g of zinc (Grüngreiff K et al. 2016). However, since the body does not store any of this zinc, regular dietary intake is warranted. The EFSA sets a 25 mg/day upper limit for zinc supplementation for adults of all genders (DRV finder). 

Why does PlantaCorp recommend liposomal zinc supplementation? 

Dietary fibre and phytates can form insoluble complexes with zinc (Science direct). Mostly, plant-derived fibres and anti-nutrients can reduce intestinal zinc absorption, and thus bioavailability (Udechukwu MC et al. 2016).  

When zinc is encapsulated in a liposome, this complexation can be prevented. Intestinal absorption may also be increased, leading to a better intended effect of zinc supplementation. 

You can read more about liposomes and how they make nutrients like zinc work, here.

Glutathione repairs liver injuries, without toxicity  

In our June newsletter, we highlighted the all-in-one functions of glutathione. This molecule that is naturally produced by our liver, has potent detoxification and antioxidant properties (Sinha R et al. 2018). 

Subscribe here to receive our newsletters. 

Several animal studies have proven the effectivity of glutathione supplementation on repairing liver injury (Ren L et al. 2019). Although specific proof of the effectivity in human livers is warranted, glutathione supplementation has been proven effective in the nervous system function and in the reduction of immunity markers (Sinha R et al. 2018, Zeevalk GD et al. 2010).  

Specifically, the liposomal form of supplementation resulted in a reduction in biomarkers of oxidative stress, without any toxicity (Sinha R et al. 2018, Zeevalk GD et al. 2010). Elevated cellular glutathione levels have also been reported. We have confirmed this with a bioavailability study of our own liquid liposomal glutathione formulation. The results of our study indicated that plasma glutathione levels increased by almost 64-times as compared to a non-liposomal formulation. 

Contact us today to find out more about our liposomal glutathione formulation and our bioavailability studies. 

Signs that your liver supplements are working 

In the beginning of the article, we provided possible signs and symptoms that accompany liver damage. Now that we have given you ideas for food supplements that can support the healthy functioning of your liver, how will you know if they work?  

When your liver is functioning well, you will have: 

  1. more energy 
  2. an improved mental state 
  3. clearer skin 
  4. reduced inflammation 
  5. a healthier gut 
  6. a healthier weight (Addiction group) 

Do remember to always consult your primary healthcare physician before you start any form of food supplementation. Your physician will be able to give you medically-sound advice on whether you need supplementation and which supplement will suit you best. 

If you would like more information on any of the liposomal supplements mentioned in this article, contact us. 

Key takeaways 

  1. Important liver functions include nutrient and drug metabolism, detoxification, the breakdown of dietary fat, storage of iron and the formation of immune factors. 
  2. Viruses, alcohol consumption and obesity can cause liver damage. This is not always noticeable through signs and symptoms. 
  3. The B-complex vitamins, Folate (B9) and the vitamins B6 and B12, especially support special metabolism by the liver. B-complex supplementation is recommended for those who are/have been infected by hepatitis, for adults above the age of 50, if you consume alcohol regularly, for vegans and vegetarians. 
  4. Curcumin’s antioxidant and hepatoprotective effects support its supplementation.  
  5. The improper functioning of the liver can cause a zinc deficiency or vice versa. The liposomal supplementation of zinc is recommended since plant-derived fibres and anti-nutrients can reduce the bioavailability of dietary zinc. 
  6. Glutathione is effective in repairing liver injury and reducing markers of inflammation. Liposomal glutathione can do this without any toxicity. 
  7. A healthy liver will give you more energy and a better physical and mental balance. 

References 

  1. Liver: Anatomy and function. Johns Hopkins Medicine. [online]. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/liver-anatomy-and-functions. Accessed on 14.07.2022. 
  2. Liver disease. Mayo Clinic. [online]. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/liver-problems/symptoms-causes/syc-20374502. Accessed on 14.07.2022. 
  3. EU register of nutrition and health claims. https://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/labelling_nutrition/claims/register/public/?event=search 
  4. Halsted CH. B-Vitamin dependent methionine metabolism and alcoholic liver disease. Clin Chem Lab Med. 2013;51(3):457-65. https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/cclm-2012-0308/html  
  5. Lin CC, Liu WH, Wang ZH, Yin MC. Vitamins B status and antioxidative defense in patients with chronic hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus infection. Eur J Nutr. 2011;50(7):499-506. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00394-010-0156-1  
  6. B-Complex Vitamins: Benefits, Side Effects, and Dosage (healthline.com) 
  7. Farzaei MH, Zobeiri M, Parvizi F, El-Senduny FF, Marmouzi I, Coy-Barrera E, Naseri R, Nabavi SM, Rahimi R, Abdollahi M. Curcumin in Liver Diseases: A Systematic Review of the Cellular Mechanisms of Oxidative Stress and Clinical Perspective. Nutrients. 2018;10(7):855. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/10/7/855/htm  
  8. Bruno, G. Detoxification: Dietary Supplements to Support & Promote the Process. Smart Supplementation: Literature Education Series On Dietary Supplements. 2006. Huntington College of Health Sciences. https://www.huhs.edu/literature/Detoxification.pdf  
  9. Dei Cas M, Ghidoni R. Dietary Curcumin: Correlation between Bioavailability and Health Potential. Nutrients. 2019;11(9):2147. 
  10. Grüngreiff K, Reinhold D, Wedemeyer H. The role of zinc in liver cirrhosis. Ann Hepatol. 2016;15(1):7-16. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1665268119307355?via%3Dihub  
  11. World Health Report 2002. Reducing Risks, Promoting Healthy Life. Geneva: WHO; 2002, p. 1-250. 
  12. Phytate- An Overview. Science Direct topics. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/food-science/phytate  
  13. Udechukwu MC, Collins SA, Udenigwe CC. Prospects of enhancing dietary zinc bioavailability with food-derived zinc-chelating peptides. Food Funct. 2016;7(10):4137-4144. https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2016/FO/C6FO00706F 
  14. Sinha R, Sinha I, Calcagnotto A, Trushin N, Haley JS, Schell TD, Richie JP Jr. Oral supplementation with liposomal glutathione elevates body stores of glutathione and markers of immune function. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2018;72(1):105-111. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6389332/ 
  15. Ren L, Qi K, Zhang L, Bai Z, Ren C, Xu X, Zhang Z, Li X. Glutathione Might Attenuate Cadmium-Induced Liver Oxidative Stress and Hepatic Stellate Cell Activation. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2019;191(2):443-452. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12011-019-1641-x 
  16. Zeevalk GD, Bernard LP, Guilford FT. Liposomal-glutathione provides maintenance of intracellular glutathione and neuroprotection in mesencephalic neuronal cells. Neurochem Res. 2010 Oct;35(10):1575-87. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20535554/ 
  17. 6 Signs That a Liver Detox Is Working. Addiction Group. [online]. https://www.addictiongroup.org/blog/liver-detox-working/. Accessed on 14.07.2022.