Well-rounded nutrition is foundational to robust health, but modern Western diets are often lacking in the full spectrum of nutrients needed to support optimal health and wellness. To compensate, many people rely on nutritional supplements to provide essential vitamins, minerals, enzymes and amino acids. In fact, according to a report by hematologists from the University of Michigan, nearly 50 percent of adults report using supplements on a regular basis. But when taken in pill form, can supplements cause liver damage?
Learn about liver function in the digestive process, and how IV vitamin therapy offers a safe alternative to vitamin pills and capsules.
Role of the Liver in Digestion
Your liver plays over 500 crucial roles in human metabolism, and damage to your liver from any source can lead to serious health problems, including death.
As part of the digestive process, the liver has several primary functions:
- It produces bile, a digestive juice that helps to break down fats and vitamins.
- It processes and stores nutrients extracted from food
- It converts amino acids to protein
- It stores glucose in the form of glycogen
- It filters out toxins to be eliminated from the body
- It releases stored nutrients into the bloodstream for delivery when a demand arises in other parts of the body.
Liver cells are grouped together in structural units called lobules, with blood vessels and bile canals running between them to facilitate the breakdown and delivery of nutrients. When confronted with highly concentrated amounts of nutrients and other substances, like alcohol or drugs, liver cells can become overwhelmed, leading to hepatotoxicity or even severe hepatitis.
Can Vitamins Hurt Your Liver?
Your liver is designed to process nutrients that are extracted from foods in minute quantities. Vitamins and minerals are considered micronutrients, which your body can only use in small doses at a time. When confronted with large concentrated amounts of nutrients from supplements, liver cells can become overwhelmed, and liver toxicity (aka hepatotoxicity) ensues that can damage liver cells and impair liver function.
Vitamin liver damage is often seen in athletic populations, where nutrient supplements are used to enhance and optimize performance. Bodybuilders often take large amounts of supplements that contain androgenic anabolic steroids (AAS), testosterone derivatives that encourage and support muscle growth.
In addition to damaging your liver cells, ingesting toxic amounts of nutrient supplements can cause adverse reactions, including:
- Upset stomach
- Nausea and vomiting
- Brittle hair and nails
- Skin changes
Supplements in pill and capsule form, along with diluted powders packed with amino acids and AAS, have to be processed by your liver before entering your bloodstream. When you ingest more nutrients than your body needs, they are either stored for later use or eliminated.
- Water soluble vitamins — B-complex and Vitamin C — are eventually diluted and excess amounts are eliminated via your kidneys, with the exception of B12, which can be stored in your liver.
- Fat soluble vitamins — A, D, E and K — can be stored in your fat cells, and in your liver.
- Minerals, which are essentially metals, are also stored in your liver, and can be toxic in high doses.
- Amino acids are transported to the liver and synthesized into protein. The liver can convert excess protein to fats or carbohydrates, if needed.
Oral supplements can help make up for nutrient deficiencies caused by an inadequate diet. But too much of a good thing can overtax the liver, causing toxicity and inflammation, and impairing liver function.
IV Vitamin Therapy to Avoid Vitamin Liver Damage
An alternative way to get the nutrients you need without overtaxing your liver is IV vitamin therapy. Intravenous delivery of vitamins, minerals and amino acids completely bypasses your digestive tract, reducing direct overload on your liver. While many of the infused nutrients will eventually make their way to your liver for processing or storage, some will be taken up by depleted cells as they circulate throughout your body.
IV-infused vitamins are more quickly absorbed by your body, and ready to be used by cells that need them most. By contrast, orally ingested supplements often lose some of their potency during the digestive process, reducing their effectiveness.
Get IV Vitamin Therapy in NYC
Your body needs vitamins, minerals and amino acids to function at its best. But high doses of nutrient supplements taken orally can cause vitamin liver damage that takes months to overcome, and in severe cases, damage to the liver can be fatal. At InVita Wellness, our IV vitamin cocktails are carefully crafted to give you high-quality nutrients at safe doses, without a prescription. Contact us today, and give your liver some love with IV vitamin therapy.
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Wooltorton, Eric. “Too much of a good thing? Toxic effects of vitamin and mineral supplements.” Cmaj 169.1 (2003): 47-48.