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March 15, 2021

As the largest internal organ in the body, the liver requires a steady stream of vitamins for smooth and healthy functioning. Without your liver being in an optimal state, you may struggle to flush out toxins from your body. The organ also plays an essential role in regulating your energy by converting sugar into glycogen and storing it in its reserves. When your blood sugar level drops, you can count on your liver to release some glucose that has been stored by your cells.

Vitamin deficiencies can disrupt the many jobs that your liver performs, so make sure to enrich your diet with foods and minerals that are particularly nourishing for the organ. Below are the crucial vitamins for a clean and healthy liver.

Vitamin A and Iron

Your liver has some reserves of vitamin A and other fat-soluble vitamins. The reserves tend to rise and fall depending on your intake of this vitamin. Low consumption of vitamin A triggers your liver to use some of the reserves to supply the body. On the flip side, excess consumption of vitamin A can result in liver damage and also elevate your blood pressure.

To keep things regulated, make sure that you consume the RDA of vitamin A (900 µg/day for men and 700 µg/day for women). Exceeding this amount can be toxic to your liver and negatively affect the absorption of iron. But get your iron levels checked if you plan on taking a vitamin A supplement, especially if you have cirrhosis.

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Vitamin D

This is another fat-soluble vitamin stored by your liver. However, chronic liver diseases can lead to a deficiency of this vitamin. NPA MedicineWise states that people with fat malabsorption conditions should also get tested for vitamin D deficiencies. Small amounts of vitamin D are present in animal-based foods, including meat, eggs and oily fish. Fortified food manufacturers also often add vitamin D to their products (including cereal and some dairy products).

In Australia, the RDA of vitamin D is 25-50 mg for people mildly deficient in this vitamin. If you get tested, and the results show low levels of vitamin D, you can consider adding vitamin D supplementation to your diet. Vitamin D toxicity results from large doses of the vitamin when consumed for long periods.

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Vitamin B-12

The only water-soluble and B-complex vitamin that your liver can store is vitamin B12. It can stay in the liver for years but is consumed daily for a healthy brain function and red blood cell generation. The vitamin also helps in the production of amino acid ‘methionine’, which is then converted into a compound called S-adenosylmethionine that is sometimes used in the treatment of chronic liver diseases.

Most people are not deficient in vitamin B12. Even if you stop consuming this vitamin, your body’s reserves of vitamin B12 will take about 3 to 5 years to exhaust. Good sources of B12 vitamin include beef, chicken, eggs, crab, salmon, mussels, and clams, according to Healthdirect Australia. If you’re a vegan, you can consider using a vitamin B12 supplement as you may not be able to get enough of the vitamin from plant-based food sources.

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Vitamin E

This is a fat-soluble vitamin that the body stores in the liver and fatty tissues. It’s also an antioxidant that protects the body from cell damage that can result in cataracts, heart disease and cancer as you age. One study suggested that vitamin E helps to improve various histological and biochemical derangements in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

But while the vitamin may offer some benefits to people suffering from liver diseases, it can be hazardous when consumed in excess. According to Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand, the RDA of vitamin E is 10 mg/day for men and 7 mg/day for women. Excess Vitamin E can thin the blood and cause internal bleeding.

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Vitamin C

Similar to vitamin E, vitamin C protects the body from free radicals. Being deficient in this vitamin can cause an imbalance called oxidative stress, which can cause liver and cell damage. Additionally, adequate intake of vitamin C helps to prevent fatty liver diseases by reducing high-fat-induced lipid accumulation in the liver.

Foods high in vitamin C include strawberries, oranges, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and tomatoes. The vitamin has low toxicity and is well absorbed by most people.

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Vitamin K

Vitamin K is crucial because it enables the liver to produce proteins that help in blood clotting. It is also vital for the regulation of blood calcium levels. The gut microbiota can synthesise this vitamin, and it’s also present in green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale and mustard greens. Smaller amounts of vitamin K are also present in animal products, such as liver, fish, eggs, meat, and cereals.

Although adults rarely suffer from vitamin K deficiencies, you are at risk if you’re taking blood-thinning medicines like Warfarin. Meat-based diets that don’t include the consumption of leafy vegetables can also make you deficient in vitamin K.

One thing to note is that the vitamin K present in foods is classified as vitamin K1 (phylloquinone). The other vitamin K compound, i.e., vitamin K2 (menaquinone), is naturally produced in your intestinal tract. So if you ever consider taking a vitamin K supplement, look for options that provide you with an adequate dose of vitamin K1.

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Important:

If you take Warfarin, you should seek professional advice about vitamin K supplementation. However, it’s safe to consume foods rich in this vitamin.

In summary, make sure you are taking in the right amounts of key vitamins, whether you are getting them through a healthy diet or through liver support supplements. Minimise alcohol consumption, exercise regularly and engage yourself in relaxing activities. Your liver does a lot for you so it’s important to give it the love that it deserves.


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