Functions of the Liver
The liver is vital organ within the body that is responsible for a myriad of functions. These include, but are not limited to, digestion, the storage of vitamins, storage of energy in the form of fat and glycogen, and of course processing toxins. These days, we consume many toxins day to day from suboptimal diets, alcohol, and other drugs. Consequently, liver support supplements may be valuable.
Liver Detox Supplements
This article is not looking into popular detox products and diets. Rather, we will explore liver support, and how these products can provide beneficial nutrients to the functioning of the liver.
Liver Support for Bodybuilders
Liver health may be compromised with the use of certain drugs. There have been reported medical cases involving multiple substance abuse, resulting in multiple organ dysfunction (Schafer, 2011). Not surprisingly, one of the organs affected is the liver. In this case, liver health and support products may prove to be helpful. In addition, good commercial liver support products are not just about liver health. They also contain a variety of ingredients that are simply good nutrition and can help you with muscle gain and fat loss.
Liver Supplement Ingredients
Some liver support products contain L-Methionine. This can be metabolised into S-adenosyl-L-methionine, which has been clinically found to be able to restore liver functionality in those suffering from chronic liver disease from substance abuse (Fiedel et al, 1983). In the context of bodybuilders suffering from liver damage, it may be of benefit for them to acquire a liver support supplement. L-Methionine is also known for its ability to aid in fat loss (Best & Ridout, 1940), so it may be of help for lean muscle gains and cutting.
Other products contains plant derived ingredients traditionally used for liver function. An example is globe artichoke, which is vegetable known for its extremely high level of antioxidants (Ceccarelli, 2010), decreasing bad LDL cholesterol in relation to good HDL cholesterol (Englisch, 2000), and hence contributing to a healthy cardiovascular system and reducing the likelihood of heart disease, as well as helping to support the population of good bacteria within the gut (prebiotics). The high level of antioxidants are helpful to bodybuilders and athletes to aid recovery, while the prebiotics aid in digestion and general gut health. Another noteworthy ingredient is St Mary's (or milk) thistle, which has been documented to improve liver function when challenged with toxin exposure (Szilard et al, 1988).
Seeking Advice Regarding Liver Health
Although some products are helpful in promoting and maintaining liver health, it is important to know that liver disease is a serious illness. If you suspect an issue with your liver, the first and foremost step is to seek medical attention. Only then, after a proper assessment should you consider treatment with supplementation. These products are best used as a precautionary supplement (or prophylaxis) among healthy individuals, and are not intended for use as a primary form of medication to treat a disease.
Choosing a Liver Support Supplement
In summary, do not look past liver health products, they are not all created equally. Liver support supplements may not only provide your liver a degree of protection from toxins, but also can assist in achieving your goals, whether it's muscle gain or fat loss.
Best & Ridout (1940), The lipotropic action of methionine. Journal of Physiology, 97: 489-494.
Ceccarelli (2010), Globe artichoke as a functional food. Mediterranean Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, 3: 197-201
Costabile (2010), A double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study to establish the 'bifidogenic' effect of a very-long-chain inulin extracted from globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus) in healthy human subjects. British Journal of Nutrition, 104: 1007-1017
Englisch et al (2000), Efficacy of Artichoke dry extract in patients with hyperlipoproteinemia. Arzneimittelforschung, 50: 260-265.
Friedel et al (1983), S-adenosyl-L-methionine. A review of its pharmacological properties and therapeutic potential in liver dysfunction and affective disorders in relation to its physiological role in cell metabolism. Drugs 38: 389-416.
Schafer et al (2011), Multi-organ dysfunction in bodybuilding possibly caused by prolonged hypercalcemia due to multi-substance abuse: case report and review of literature. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 32: 60-5.
Szilard et al. (1988). Protective effect of Legalon in workers exposed to organic solvents. Acta Med Hung, 45: 249-256.