Liver Disease and Multivitamins

In general, taking a multivitamin is a good idea for managing chronic liver disease – but choosing the right one requires awareness of three potential hazards.

A multivitamin is one of the most commonly used nutritional supplement in the U.S., but few realize how valuable it can be for managing chronic liver disease. Taking a multivitamin to help support the liver’s well-being is an obvious choice. However, there are some potential vitamin hazards to avoid. Because they can be instrumental in preventing liver disease progression and complications, living healthfully with chronic liver disease typically involves taking a multivitamin. Nonetheless, those affected will benefit most when they choose their multivitamin wisely.

Cellular Oxidation
Oxidative damage is a frequent cause of liver cell injury, a definitive pathway to the worsening of chronic liver disease. Known as cellular oxidation, this is a natural process where free radicals break down organic tissue.

Without adequate levels of antioxidants in the body, free radicals can damage liver cells. Free radicals can be generated from:

•    normal metabolic processes
•    sunlight
•    pollution
•    toxins
•    stress
•    disease

In someone with chronic liver disease, excessive amounts of free radicals contribute to liver scarring and the liver’s subsequent functional decline. Antioxidants bind with free radicals – neutralizing them so they can’t cause damage to nearby cells. Many common vitamins, like Vitamin A, C and E, are potent antioxidants that prevent cellular oxidation. Hence, multivitamins offer a broad spectrum of free radical fighting antioxidants.

Vitamin D
Another reason for someone with chronic liver disease to take a multivitamin is the supplement’s typical inclusion of Vitamin D. According to researchers from the University of Tennessee in Memphis, over 90 percent of individuals with chronic liver disease have some degree of Vitamin D deficiency. The researchers agreed that severe Vitamin D deficiency was more common among those with cirrhosis – an advanced form of liver disease.

While primarily known for its role in bone health, Vitamin D is also an important nutrient for maintaining cardiovascular, immune and neurological health. According to lead researcher Dr. Satheesh P. Nair, “Since deficiency is common among these patients, Vitamin D replacement may hopefully prevent osteoporosis and other bone complications related to end stage liver disease.”

Liver Detoxification
One of the liver’s principle functions is to detoxify the blood. Many factors play into detoxification, a natural process that may be hampered in those with chronic liver disease. A liver that has sustained significant damage is less able to perform its detoxification duties. This inability to filter toxins leaves a higher concentration of them to accumulate in the liver, a situation that ends up causing even more damage to currently functioning liver cells.

Several ingredients in a good multivitamin will aid the liver in detoxification, such as:

•    Vitamin C
•    Beta Carotene (Vitamin A)
•    Vitamin E
•    B Vitamins

Cautionary Multivitamin Components
When it comes to choosing a multivitamin for someone with chronic liver disease, not all supplements are created equally. The following are important considerations when choosing the right multivitamin:

1.    Vitamin A – Although Vitamin A has several benefits to offer someone with liver concerns, it can be toxic to the liver in high dosages. Experts suggest that those with cirrhosis not take more than 5,000 Units per day. However, Vitamin A as beta-carotene is not toxic to the liver and can be taken in any amount.

2.    Vitamin E – Again, Vitamin E has several benefits to offer someone with liver concerns, but it can be hazardous if taken in excess. In doses over 1,200 IU per day, Vitamin E can thin the blood and cause bleeding.

3.    Iron – Iron may promote the formation of scar tissue in the liver. Therefore, those with chronic liver disease – and especially those with cirrhosis – should take multivitamins without iron unless their physician has determined that they are iron deficient.

A good multivitamin supplies the body with Vitamin D, a wide range of antioxidants and assistance in liver detoxification. However, those with chronic liver disease should be aware of the quantity of Vitamin E, the quantity and form of Vitamin A and the presence or absence of iron. By knowing what to look for and choosing an appropriate multivitamin, managing chronic liver disease will be one step easier.

References:

http://adam.about.net/reports/Vitamins.htm, Vitamins, Retrieved June
12, 2011, About.com, 2011.

http://www.ajcn.org/content/85/1/265S.full, Multivitamin/Mineral Supplements and Prevention of Chronic Disease: Executive Summary, Huang, H-Y, et al, Retrieved June 12, 2011, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 2007.

http://www.ehow.com/about_4572247_what-vitamins-antioxidants.html, What Vitamins Are Antioxidants?, Nancy Steely, Retrieved June 12, 2011, Demand Media, Inc., 2011.

http://www.hcvadvocate.org/hcsp/articles/Herrera.html, Cirrhosis in Chronic Hepatitis C Infection, Jorge L. Herrera, MD, Retrieved June 12, 2011, Hepatitis C Support Project, 2011.

http://www.hcvadvocate.org/hcsp/articles/RILEY.html, Preventative Care in Chronic Liver Diseases, Thomas R. Riley, Retrieved June 12, 2011, Hepatitis C Support Project, 2011.

http://www.healingdaily.com/liver-detoxification.htm, Liver Detoxification, Retrieved June 12, 2011, Healing Daily, 2011.

http://www.liversupport.com/wordpress/2009/07/helping-your-liver-with-alpha-r-lipoic-acid/, Helping Your Liver with Alpa R-Lipoic Acid, Nicole Cutler, L.Ac,. Retrieved June 12, 2011, Natural Wellness, 2011.

http://www.livestrong.com/article/449487-can-vitamins-contribute-to-liver-disease/, Can Vitamins Contribute to Liver Disease?, Adam Cloe, Retrieved June 12, 2011, Demand Media Inc., 2011.

http://www.rejuvenation-science.com/n_vitamin-d-ibd.html, Vitamin D Deficiency Common in Patients with IBD, Chronic Liver Disease, Retrieved June 12, 2011, Rejuvenation Science, 2011.

http://www.tcolincampbell.org/courses-resources/article/cirrhosis/?tx_ttnews[backPid]=76&cHash=65771f2c0c, Cirrhosis, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Retrieved June 12, 2011, T. Colin Campbell Foundation, 2011.

Palmer, Melissa, MD, Doctor Melissa Palmer’s Guide to Hepatitis and Liver Disease, Penguin Group, New York, NY, 2004: pp 392-398.

  • Terri Yarbrough

    You should look into the Herbalife products to see who is making it and where all the info on Herbalife and you will see the superior product for HCVwith fatty liver like me i also have severe deppression and COPD and i am telling you HERBALIFE is what you need!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Terri Yarbrough

    Herbalife is all of ya’lls answer forget about the milk thisle Herbalife turned me around and i feel good now HERBALIFE is what you need!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Terri Yarbrough

    I have a fatty liver (non-achohlic)with HCV and the 1 & only thing helping me are the Herbalife products i can function better , think better,have more energy it has helped billions of people with doctors wanting to loook into it has the leading doctors and scientist making the product it WORKS

  • tommy

    in stage 3 fatty liver . what should i do ? thanks

  • sum1withhepc

    Anyone with Hep-C / Liver Disease that takes Milk Thistle should really consider Phytosomed Milk Thistle, there is a website that sells it in UK – Milk Thistle is poorly absorbed by the gut and so you do not get the doses the liver needs for it to be beneficial, Phytosomed Milk Thistle is where the molecules of MT have been bound to molecules of soy phospholipids , as these soy phospholipids are highly absorbable it means you get 8-10 times the dose of MT from same amount used in other tablets, they also only use Silybin and not the whole Milk Thistle or Silymarin compound in the process which is the part of Milk Thistle that does all the work (Silymarin is 70% Silybin), price I pay in UK is about 2-3 times that of normal milk thistle but you get 8-10 times the dose AND its effective, it has been clinically proven by scientists too & to lower ALT better than normal MT (for those that are skeptical), look it up, i wont post any links incase my post is disregarded as promotion – I have used it for years and get no symptoms and ALT is always below 45 (which is good for sum1 with hep-c for 12 years)

    • barbara

      RE: Phytosomed, I would appreciate more info on this product from UK. How can I find it?

      • John

        I had to buy in from the US from Natural Wellness. Had a look at UK sites but could not find the Phytosome

  • http://home hmblower

    I have cirrhosis,hepc diagnosed 2006, had 2 transfusions in 1977, not many symptoms, after treatment relapsed biopsy revealed cirrhosis. I have taken milk thistle, chelated zinc and vitamin D3, I have stayed at the lower level of staging since the biopsy. I eat dry foods vegtables and chicken, rarely red meat, I am surviving better than some, fingers crossed

  • Kevin Andersen

    I take Milk Thistle & Super Beta Prostate.Can these be taken together.Whats a good multivitamin to take with someone who has chronic hep for 30 yrs now.Thanks,Kevin

    • R. Holmes

      I have hep-c and I have been taking Milk thistle also.
      but my G.I. doctor told me two weeks ago that the UNC health center just found out it does no good for the liver, so save your money and its one less thing to go throw your liver. She prescribed INCIVEK along with pegIFN, and ribavirin. check out the price for INCIVEK. I checked on the internet for a price; $49200.oo. Yes thats right! The other two are expensive also, but not that high.

      i

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