Gently Detox Every Day with Supplements

There has never been a better time to detox.

Exposure to environmental toxins and xenoestrogens is more prevalent than ever. According to the CDC’s National Biomonitoring Program, more than 300 environmental chemicals, or their metabolites, are regularly found in human samples (e.g. urine, blood, serum, breast milk, and meconium), and many of the chemicals are linked to health problems such as cancer, autoimmune disorders, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, autism, and troubles due to hormone disruption.

That said, few people are eager to embark on a restrictive cleansing regime. Don’t bother because doing a multiday detox diet once or twice a year and then being "off" it the other days of the year is just not sufficient enough. In fact, because the organs need nutrients to cleanse the body, fasting can do more harm than good. Extreme fasting can lead to protein and vitamin deficiencies, electrolyte imbalance, lactic acidosis and even death. We need a 21st century approach that looks at genetics involved in detoxification, environemental constraints, food, and how we live.

3 Phases of Liver Detoxification

During phase 1 detox, the liver takes toxic substances and converts them into intermediates. These intermediate toxins are often more toxic than before they were broken up, so it’s important they’re able to be managed. 

Phase 2 makes the intermediate toxin easier to remove from the body. It kicks in as soon as the intermediate is formed, and converts it to a nontoxic form that can be excreted into bile and stool (fat-soluble) or urine (water-soluble).

Phase 3 is the actual removal of the toxins. Water-soluble substances go to the kidneys to be peed out, and fat-soluble substances are packaged into bile and eliminated via the stool. If you don’t produce one or more stools daily, you must resolve this before doing a focused detox or cleanse. Otherwise, it is not worth the collateral damage. You don’t want to push Phases 1 and 2 if Phase 3 isn’t working! 

For a more in depth look at the three phases of liver detoxification, check out 3 Phases of Liver Detoxification You Must Know About.

Start With The Basics

It's important to eat foods that influence the two detoxification pathways and processes, along with the elimination phase. Specific vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients are all involved. First, start with the basics: eat a fiber-rich, organic diet with a copious amount of brightly colored fruits and vegetables, quality protein, balanced fats, herbs and spices, and minimize intake of refined carbs and sugars. For lifestyle factors involved in detoxifying, it's important to sweat (via a sauna), sleep enough, manage stress, and maintain positive relationships. Lifestyle factors also involve identifying and minimizing your exposure to toxins, heavy metals and xenoestrogens. Three major changes you could make to minimize exposure include using an air and water filter and avoiding plastic containers. Here's a list of the 12 worst hormone disruptors, how they damage your health, and how to avoid them.

For dietary supplements, taking supportive nutrients that target specific detox pathways and the organs' cleanup work is a start. A good multivitamin is a must.  

Here are some top supplement choices to support detoxification:


This single-cell algae Chlorella pyrenoidosa is loaded with chlorophyll, a compound believed to cleanse the blood and keep the body from absorbing industrial toxins such as dioxins. Polysaccharides in the algae’s cell wall also have strong immune-supporting properties. One study of 35 pregnant Japanese women found that those who took chlorella supplements had significantly lower dioxin levels in their breast milk.

Dose: One scoop (2–3 grams) of chlorella or another chlorophyll-containing greens powder daily.

Spirulina and other chlorophyll-rich foods also ofter detoxification benefits. 

Milk Thistle 

Perhaps the best-researched herb for overall liver health, milk thistle contains a group of antioxidant compounds commonly called silymarin, which bind to liver cells and prevent harmful chemicals from breaching cell walls. Silymarin also promotes cell regeneration and boosts levels of glutathione, a critical antioxidant that zaps harmful free radicals produced when liver enzymes break down toxins. A 2010 study of 50 children undergoing chemotherapy found that those who took oral milk thistlefor 30 days had significantly less liver toxicity than the control group.

Dose: 100–200 mg daily of milk thistle bound to phosphatidylcholine for better absorption.

N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) 

NAC is a precursor for glutathione (aka: it converts to glutathione), which is the most powerful antioxidant in the body and an extremely important nutrient for detoxification. In particular, glutathione activates production of “phase 2” liver enzymes, which transform stubborn fat-soluble toxins into water-soluble ones that can more easily be secreted. NACis known to helps the body excrete toxins such as mercury, cadmium, lead, beryllium, uranium and arsenic. NAC binds to organipoisons too – not just metal poisons. Emergency-room doctors commonly use NAC as an antidote to acetaminophen poisoning.

Dose: 500 –1,500 mg in capsule form daily, particularly if you eat a lot of large-fish seafood or live in (or are visiting) a highly polluted area (air, water)

Rice Bran Fiber

Fiber binds to fat-soluble toxins in the bile and ushers them out of the body through the gastrointestinal tract. But not all fiber is created equal. Rice bran fiber is an insoluble fiber found in whole-grain brown rice, and shown to bind particularly well with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other industrial toxins. Studies showed after Japanese patients who had been poisoned by PCB-contaminated cooking oil consumed 7–10 grams of fermented rice bran fiber three times a day for a year, they excreted twice as many toxins as those who did not.

Dose: Try 2 tablespoons rice bran fiber powder, or 3 capsules, with each meal.


This compound is found in broccoli, broccoli sprouts, brussels sprouts, and cabbage. Of those four, you get the most from broccoli sprouts. Sulforaphane activates production of phase 2 liver enzymes, which transform stubborn fat-soluble toxins into water-soluble ones that can more easily be secreted. It also helps the body neutralize harmful carcinogens, including excess estrogen. Sulfur compounds like sulforaphane assist in detoxifying Mercury from the body. Remember, when mercury is detoxified, it’s very acidic. Potassium and Magnesium are the two minerals that buffer that acid so make sure to eat enough of those two nutrients.

Dose: Take 30 mg of broccoli seed extract daily in capsule form, or drink one to two cups daily of tea made with sulforaphane glucosinolate (SGS).

Fun fact: If you eat cooked broccoli, sprinkle it with powdered brown mustard. The bioavailability of sulforaphane is over four times greater with powdered brown mustard. 

Vitamin C

Toxins that go through phase 1 detox can become more reactive in the body. Vitamin C, Vitamin E, carotenoids and flavonoids are key antioxidant that mop up free radicals generated in that process. Vitamin C supplementationcan also reduce risk for gallstones, according to a recent study, and protects lung cells from air-pollution damage.

Dose: Start with 1,000 mg daily and increase by 500-mg increments to 2,000 mg or more, especially if you often run, walk, or cycle near traffic, says Crinnion. Reduce dose if loose stools result. Taking 500-2000 mg/day is necessary for supporting glutathione levels.

Whey Protein

Adequate dietary protein is a necessity for helping the liver break down and excrete toxins. More specifically, certain amino acids are an important part of phase 2 liver detoxification. This includes: arginine, glutamine, glycine, methionine, ornithine, cysteine and taurine. Numerous studies link low-protein diets with a higher toxic load. Proper digestion of protein is also required in order for your body to actually utilize the amino acids it needs, so make sure your digestion is functioning properly.
To avoid fat-soluble environmental toxins, be sure to choose vegetable-based protein—tofu, nuts, beans, quinoa—or small amounts of organically raised lean meats. Consuming about 40 grams of Whey protein per day is necessary to support healthy glutathione levels.

Dose: Blend 21 grams of high-quality whey protein powder into a smoothie daily.


Rather than taking a bunch of different detox-supporting nutrients, I find it convenient to take a detox blend that contains all the detox-supporting nutrients in one capsule, such as Dim-X. It contains milk thistle, glutathione, broccoli sprout extract (for the sulphoraphane), and a few other powerful ingredients to support the liver.

Who Benefits From Liver Recovery?

Perfect for anyone who:

  • Has been exposed to heavy metals
  • Has lived in or been exposed to a moldy building
  • Regularly indulges in alcoholic drinks
  • Does not consume enough fresh fruits and vegetables or fiber
  • Is exposed to toxins in the workplace
  • Uses conventional, non-organic personal care products

Don't wait! Do what it takes to support normal detoxification and waste elimination, and maintain an overall healthy liver. If you're looking to cleanse, try out these easy ideas. 

It’s a good idea to talk to your health care provider before starting a new supplement.
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods
1. Klein AV, Kiat H. Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: a critical review of the evidence. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2015 Dec;28(6):675-86.

2. Hodges RE, Minich DM. Modulation of Metabolic Detoxification Pathways Using Foods and Food-Derived Components: A Scientific Review with Clinical Application. J Nutr Metab. 2015;2015:760689.

3. Okunade O1, Niranjan K2, Ghawi SK2, Kuhnle G2, Methven L2. Supplementation of the Diet by Exogenous Myrosinase via Mustard Seeds to Increase the Bioavailability of Sulforaphane in Healthy Human Subjects after the Consumption of Cooked Broccoli. 

4. Lee I, Tran M, Evans-Nguyen T, Stickle D, Kim S, Han J, Park JY, Yang M. Detoxification of chlorella supplement on heterocyclic amines in Korean young adults. Environ Toxicol Pharmacol. 2015 Jan;39(1):441-6.

5. Nakano S, Takekoshi H, Nakano M. Chlorella (Chlorella pyrenoidosa) supplementation decreases dioxin and increases immunoglobulin a concentrations in breast milk. J Med Food. 2007 Mar;10(1):134-42.

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