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Managing liver health

How do I manage my liver health?

Vitamins, Minerals and other Supplements

Everything we eat passes through the liver. A key player in our digestive system, the liver nurtures and protects the body by neutralizing and disposing of toxins. It converts food into chemicals essential to life, delivers energy to the body to fight viruses and infections, among the many more functions it performs resiliently. It is critical to keep the liver healthy.

Poor nutrition, alcohol and obesity have been linked to Fatty Liver Disease, which in turn is associated with such risk factors as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type II diabetes.

There are few supplements that have strong clinical evidence as supporting liver health. The only one that stands out is the Milk Thistle or Sylimarin, although it still lacks sufficient clinical evidence that it benefits liver health (and this may be due to the fact that it has not been investigated with large scale studies). Sylimarin is the active ingredient of Milk Thistle, a flowering plant indigenous to the Mediterranean countries. The seeds of the plant have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is used to make supplements and medicines to treat liver disorders, including damage (cirrhosis) caused by alcohol, and jaundice, chronic inflammation and hepatitis.

Synthesized Alpha-lipoic acid, a vitamin-like chemical with anti-oxidant properties found in broccoli and spinach, is also marketed as supplements to treat liver and kidney diseases. But its curative benefits are still clinically unproven. Another compound, called SAMe, which occurs naturally in the body, is made synthetically and is available in the market as supplement for liver disorders. Although this chemical has been in use as a prescription drug in several European countries for the treatment of osteoarthritis and depression, its benefits for liver disorders are yet to be proven conclusively.

Please consult your physician if you must take supplements.

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