A healthy liver is essential for the body to function at an optimal level. The main function of the liver is to detoxify the blood and assist the rest of the body in the processing of vitamins and minerals. The liver creates bile, which it uses to help rid the rest the body of waste and harmful toxins. If the liver is not maintained with the proper diet or is exposed to harmful toxins on a regular basis, it will not function properly and overall health will deteriorate. Adding the right supplements to your diet will assist you in maintaining a healthy liver.
Milk thistle is commonly taken to help protect the liver from oxidation and damage from free radicals. The compound that acts as the active ingredient in milk thistle is silymarin. Silymarin is a potent antioxidant which can reduce inflammation of the liver and promote the repair of liver cells that have been damaged by toxins or alcohol.
Milk thistle products are made from the seeds of the plant. In most commercial preparations of milk thistle, silymarin is the main ingredient and makes up 70 to 80 percent of the preparation.
Dandelion is another common supplement that is used to help protect and repair the liver. Luteolin and apigenin are the two main flavonid compounds responsible for dandelion's effectiveness as a liver supplement. They have very strong anti-oxidant, anti-hypoglycemic and anti-spasmodic properties. In some studies they have been shown to have anti-bacterial properties as well.
Garlic is a natural antibiotic that also helps to slow the production of cholesterol by liver cells by as much as 40 to 60 percent. The main compounds that cause this to happen are S-allyl cysteine, S-ethyl-cysteine and S-propyl cysteine. The use of garlic as a supplement is safe for the majority of people. Garlic does occasionally cause side effects such as heartburn, nausea, vomiting and a burning sensation in the mouth or stomach.
Alpha-Lipoic Acid aids liver health greatly. It is one of the most potent antioxidants and is effective in offsetting the damage of free radicals that can be harmful to the liver and overall health. It is also soluble in both fat and water, so it can effectively work in all cells of the body including all the cells present in the liver. In addition, alpha-lipoic acid increases the effectiveness of other antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E and coenzyme Q10. It also raises the level of glutathione produced by the body, which is essential for detoxification of the liver.
When choosing to add supplements to your diet, consult a licensed physician before doing so. Supplements can damage your health when used improperly or in excess. Supplements are not a cure-all for liver problems and should be paired with a healthy diet and exercise for maximum effectiveness.