4 Best Supplements for Liver Function Strengthening
Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
- Considering a liver supplement?
- Find out how to tell if you need one, which ones work, and how fatty acids may be the key to improving liver health.
Your liver is one of your largest organs, second only to your skin. It keeps your body free of toxins, helps metabolize medications you take, and helps deliver nutrients to the rest of your body to use.
Liver function is a hot topic, especially since there are so many ways your liver can lose function and become unhealthy. Using a liver supplement can help support your liver, and can be a great addition to your health stack.
Let’s briefly cover what the liver does, what makes it unhealthy, and how using a liver-benefitting supplement can help. We’ll also give you four supplements that are science-backed to help promote your liver health.
What Does the Liver Do?
Over 500 functions have been identified with the liver which is why keeping your liver healthy is so important. If even one of these functions begins to break down, you can experience a significant dip in your overall health and wellness.
Here are some of the most important functions of your liver:
- Filtering the blood. The liver filters the toxins from your blood. All blood leaving your stomach and intestines passes through the liver, which filters out toxins and keeps your blood pure.
- Produces bile. Bile helps carry toxins out of your body and helps break down the fat in your blood, turning it into usable energy for the body.
- Turns glucose into glycogen. If there’s too much glucose in your blood, your liver converts it to glycogen and stores it. Later when it is needed, it can convert it back to glucose.
- Helps red blood cell health. Your liver helps keep your red blood cells healthy by filtering out bilirubin and regulating blood clotting.
The liver is your body’s line of defense against toxicity. Without it, dangerous levels of toxins could build up making us sick, and even causing death. When liver function suffers, our bodies suffer. Let’s look at how lifestyle habits and illness can affect our liver.
Causes of Lowered Liver Function and Symptoms
Liver function can take a hit for several different reasons:
- Infection. The liver can become infected by certain parasites and viruses that can be transmitted via bodily fluids or through food and water that contains contamination. Liver infections commonly result in hepatitis (aka, an inflamed liver).
- Autoimmune disorders, cancer, and genetics. Certain autoimmune disorders, like autoimmune hepatitis can cause your body to attack the liver, causing damage and loss of function. Cancer of the liver can also cause loss of function as well as some rare genetic disorders.
- Chronic alcohol abuse. Alcohol damages liver cells and creates scar tissue that can impede liver function. It also causes excess fat to be stored in the liver. Chronic alcohol abuse can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and even liver failure.
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD is a disease of the liver which involves the storage of excess fat in the liver, unrelated to drinking alcohol. Many people who have NAFLD don’t even consume alcohol, or do so in extreme moderation.
NAFLD can be caused by negative health markers like obesity, insulin resistance, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol. Grouped together, these negative health markers make up a condition known as metabolic syndrome, a condition that places you at higher risk for diabetes and heart disease.
You may not even realize you have reduced liver function. Many times, no symptoms are present. Liver function can be measured by a blood test.
Measurable symptoms include the following:
- Jaundice (yellowing of skin and whites of eyes)
- Itchy skin
- Pain and swelling in the abdomen
- Dark urine and/or pale stool
- Bruising easily
- Loss of appetite
- Gastrointestinal issues like nausea and vomiting
To protect your liver, a healthy lifestyle is a requirement. Using a supplement can help support you on your healthy liver journey.
What Are Liver Supplements?
Liver supplements have become increasingly popular, likely due to an alarming rise in conditions that can harm liver function, like those that make up metabolic syndrome.
Liver supplements are products that claim to help improve your liver function, usually by suggesting they can cleanse, detox, or restore your liver. A healthy liver, however, doesn’t need to be cleansed or detoxed; it does that on its own.
What Are the Benefits of Liver Supplements?
Liver supplements claim to be able to undo the damage the liver has taken over decades of filtering toxins from your blood. However, the liver was designed to filter out toxins.
Although a supplement may claim to repair damage caused by excessive alcohol use or high blood sugar, it’s important to understand that the only way for the liver to maintain healthy function is by eliminating the bad health habits that are causing the dysfunction.
Liver supplements can help support your liver by:
- Helping support liver function and health;
- Assisting with the removal of liver toxins;
- Promoting the growth of new cells in the liver;
- Improving blood flow to the liver, which can help renew and replenish cells; and
- Helping liver cells stay strong and protected.
Liver supplements can be a good option for helping support the function of the liver in a healthy person. They can also help a person who is on a journey to improve their health, develop a healthier liver.
4 Best Supplements for Liver Function
The best way to protect your liver health is to live a balanced and healthy lifestyle. A supplement may become part of your daily routine to help improve your liver function. Here are four supplements for liver function and how they work.
1. Milk Thistle
Arguably the most popular liver supplement on the market, milk thistle is contained in nearly every liver boosting product you find. It’s been used in herbal medicine for centuries.
Milk thistle contains an active ingredient called silymarin, which is a plant-based chemical compound that may help reduce liver toxin levels, promote liver cell growth, and offer free radical protection with its antioxidant properties.
Milk thistle may also help lower blood sugar levels, which could have a positive impact on liver health. Although milk thistle is generally well tolerated and safe to use, it’s unclear whether or not taking it will actually improve liver function.
2. Artichoke Leaf
Another herbal remedy that is popular for promoting liver function is artichoke leaf. Artichoke leaf supports liver function by offering antioxidant protection to liver cells.
Artichoke leaf is used in supplement form by extracting plant compounds from the leaf and stem of an artichoke plant.
3. Dandelion Root
Dandelion root is a popular plant extract used in liver supplements, however the evidence that dandelion root offers any benefit is sparse. While it is generally safe for use, it is generally used more in holistic medicine.
4. Pentadecanoic Acid
The best way to support liver function (in addition to a healthy diet and lifestyle) is by supporting the liver on a cellular level. Your entire body is made of cells, and cellular decline, regardless of the cause, is what causes liver function to slow down.
Pentadecanoic acid is a little-known, odd-chain, saturated fatty acid that a mounting body of research says may be the first essential fatty acid to have been discovered in over 90 years.†
Multiple studies have shown that higher body and dietary levels of this fatty acid, also known as C15:0, are associated with optimal liver health.
- C15:0 supports your cells by digging deep into the cell membranes to offer support, fortifying them and keeping them strong. Cells become fragile as we age, but C15:0 helps your cells stay strong, so they function better.
- C15:0 helps support mitochondrial function. Aging cells in the liver begin to lose their mitochondrial function, which can decrease cellular energy and increase cellular stress, both of which can lead to a decrease in liver function. C15:0 helps encourage healthy mitochondrial function so liver cells function as they should.
C15:0 can even help regulate metabolism, by interacting with receptors in the body, called PPARs, that control metabolism.* By helping support your cells, C15:0 helps support your liver at its most foundational components.*
How To Get C15:0 in Your Diet
Unfortunately, you probably aren’t getting much C15:0 in your diet. Found in trace amounts in whole dairy products like whole milk and full fat butter, C15:0 is a fatty acid that is increasingly missing in our diets.†
You can get C15:0 in a once-a-day, easy to take supplement called fatty15.
Fatty15 is the first and only supplement to offer your cells a distinct advantage in the fight against aging. Fatty15 contains only pure, FA15TM, a pure powder, vegan friendly and free fatty acid form of C15:0.
Taking fatty15 can help support your liver function as well as a healthy lifestyle.* It’s a science-backed supplement that can help improve your overall wellness, with just one small capsule a day.*
Milk Thistle | NCCIH
Eric Venn-Watson M.D.
Senior Scientist, Co-Founder
Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.