Nutrients To Support Liver Health
- Jan 23, 2019
- Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Many of us are very well-aware of the toxins we come in contact with on a daily basis such as plastics, carpet fumes, aerosols and so much more. It seems like they’re everywhere! In fact, unless you plan to completely withdraw from society, the chance of completely avoiding toxins near impossible. It seems like there couldn't be a better time than now to give your liver some extra support.
Functions of the Liver
The liver removes harmful material from the bloodstream, manufactures proteins, stores energy and helps support healthy digestion and assimilation of nutrients from food. It is called upon to perform over 500 functions as the body’s filtering and detoxification mechanism, making it potentially one of the most overburdened organs in your body. Since everything you consume passes through your liver, it means your liver is subjected to an array of toxins – with pesticides, hormones, food additives, alcohol, medications, microorganisms, and more, the liver already has plenty to do.
Your liver is responsible for processing virtually everything you consume. The liver also stores sugar in the form of glycogen for energy needs. A healthy, well-functioning liver works as the body’s fat-metabolizing organ. It converts nutrients from food into the most biologically active forms, supports healthy blood function, including clotting, is responsible for cholesterol metabolism, and has the ability to store some vitamins and minerals. The liver produces proteins and enzymes to support and maintain a healthy hormone balance in our bodies.
The liver also helps the immune system fight infections, and remove bacteria from the blood and make bile, which is essential for digesting fat in our meals. Although the immune system protects our bodies from many dangers, it is the liver that protects the immune system from becoming overloaded.
2 Phases of The Liver's Detoxification Process
Problems with the liver can occur if your body is infected by bacteria, viruses or harmful chemicals. As a part of normal phase one and phase two detoxification, the liver will convert harmful toxins into intermediate substances, then to harmless compounds and eliminate them from the body. At times, toxins can overwhelm the liver and prevent or reduce their conversion into harmless substances to be excreted. These toxins get left behind and accumulate, sometimes in a more toxic form than the original toxin itself, affecting liver cells by toxifying them directly or by creating free radicals that can affect your liver and your overall health – or both. This is why it’s so important to support your liver health in every way you can. I like these simple cleansing tactics to go along with the liver-supporting supplements.
The good news is perhaps the most impressive thing about the liver is its ability to regenerate itself. When it is given essential nutrients, a healthy diet, and appropriate herbs to support healthy function, the liver can go about its business of protecting us from the environment. Supporting the liver is one of the most effective ways to maintain energy, balance weight, and support overall health.
Liver Health Supporting Supplements
Detoxifying is a nutrient-requiring process, and phase 1 and phase 2 detox require different nutrients.
Certain high-quality supplements may help support liver health.
Taurine is an amino acid that is important in heart, liver, gallbladder and nervous system health. It can balance the stress response and function as an antioxidant. It is an important component of the bile acids and as such, supports healthy detoxification and digestion. Taurine is also really important for supporting healthy bile production, and here's why.
Alpha Lipoic Acid is a powerful, both a fat and water-soluble antioxidant that supports healthy liver function and aids in the detoxification of toxic metals and other toxins. It supports healthy liver cell integrity and aids in the liver’s production of energy and metabolism of sugar.
Antioxidants support liver health through a series of broad-spectrum mechanisms that can protect the body's cells from a large number of toxins and stresses. A comprehensive antioxidant formula can aid in the detoxification of heavy metals including lead, cadmium and mercury, as well as other common environmental pollutants, and supports a balanced, normal immune response. Antioxidants are especially important in the time between phase 1 and phase 2 detox because they buffer the potentially damaging effects of phase 1 detox. All antioxidants are beneficial, but specifically focus on Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Carotenoids and Flavonoids.
Lecithin supplies phosphatidyl choline that helps the liver metabolize fats and cholesterol. It supports healthy liver cell integrity by supporting healthy cell membranes for a balanced flow of substances in and out of the liver cell. In addition to phosphatidylcholine, lecithin supplies the essential fatty acids that help keep liver cells healthy and help support healthy fat metabolism and processing.
Vitamin C is the major water-soluble antioxidant involved in phase 1 and phase 2 liver detoxification. It reduces the negative effect of excessive free radical production, which can profoundly affect liver function.
Vitamin B12 in the form of methyl cobalamin, is the most biologically active form of vitamin B12 that supports healthy liver function, detoxification through methylation, and is essential for the production of oxygen carrying red blood cells.
N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) is a sulfur containing amino acid that offers extraordinary liver support. NAC is a potent detoxifier, supports healthy liver cell function, structure and integrity. Most importantly, it can be utilized to make glutathione, which is the most powerful of the antioxidants and detoxifiers for healthy liver function.
Turmeric Root Extract is a powerful liver support herb that has a long history of use to support healthy detoxification, bile production, liver cell health and integrity, and to reduce the metabolic impact of environmental toxins on the liver and the entire body.
Remember, supporting liver health is one of your best defenses against the toxins inundating your body on a daily basis. Decreasing your toxic load with a healthy lifestyle, while providing your body with high-quality sources of nutrients will go a long way toward helping to keep your liver in top working order.
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods