Woman drinking water after taking supplements for liver function

5 Liver Health Supplements You Should Know About

Your liver is your own personal filtration system, cleansing the blood and converting toxins into waste products the body can more easily eliminate. While we tend to think of the heart, lungs, and brain as our "vital organs," let's not overlook the liver! Its optimal function is key to our overall health.

If you're ready to take your liver care to the next level, you can make a big difference with some simple lifestyle changes, eating a well-balanced diet, exercising regularly—and incorporating liver supplements into your wellness routine.

Here are some tips and tricks to keep your liver filtering fabulously for years to come.

What does the liver do?

Healthy woman drinking green detoxifying smoothie

Your liver is basically the gatekeeper between you and anything you ingest. Whenever you eat or consume anything, whether it is food, alcohol or even medicine, it gets processed by the liver.

For example, once you ingest food like a juicy burger, it gets digested and broken down by the stomach and intestines, gets absorbed into the blood, and then goes into the liver. Your liver then determines what to do with what you just consumed. It knows whether to detoxify, when to store nutrients and when to release those nutrients back into your blood.

Your liver also acts as your body's sugar reservoir and, along with the pancreas, makes sure that there's the right amount of sugar in your bloodstream.

When your liver processes a meal, it takes in sugar from your blood and stores it as glycogen. Your liver also converts glycogen back into glucose as needed. The liver also processes fats and plays a major role in supporting already-healthy cholesterol levels.  Your liver cleanses your blood as well—another key function of this vital organ!

Where is the liver located?

Doctor palpating liver

There is a lot to love when it comes to your liver. In fact, it is the second-largest organ in the human body, weighing in at more than three pounds and measuring about the size of a football. It is deep reddish-brown in color and located on the right side of your body, just below your lungs.

A large organ like the liver has big responsibilities, performing over 500 tasks to keep your body healthy. Two of its more noteworthy jobs include detoxification and metabolic function.

What are the best supplements for your liver?

Supplements for healthy liver function

When it comes to selecting the best liver supplements, you could opt for an all-in-one formula that helps support liver function by encouraging healthy detoxification and safeguarding your liver against oxidative stress.

For more targeted support of specific liver functions, there are several supplements that specifically help detoxify, protect and support liver function. These include:

1. Milk thistle:

Milk thistle is a liver supplement that has been trusted for over 2,000 years to help support healthy bile flow and liver detoxification. It has strong antioxidant effects that help support liver cell regeneration and a healthy inflammatory response.

2. NAC:

N-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC) plays a vital role in your body's detoxification process. NAC helps support healthy liver function due to its antioxidant properties and ability to promote a healthy inflammatory response.

3. Green tea:

Tea has been touted for all around health benefits, but when it comes to your liver, there is a lot to love about green tea. Green tea is high in antioxidants, which can help support liver enzymes and help inhibit oxidative stress. Green tea helps support liver function due to its high concentration of polyphenols, which help support your body's natural detoxification process.

4. Turmeric:

Most commonly known as a spice, turmeric contains big benefits when it comes to liver health. The antioxidant effects of turmeric help protect your liver against oxidative stress that may impact its ability to function at peak performance.

5. Probiotics:

The more effective your digestive system is at inhibiting the absorption of toxins, the less work it will pass along to your liver. Fortunately, you can find probiotics that also support your liver function.

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How else can you support liver health?

Father and daughter preparing a healthy meal

In addition to taking supplements, the following lifestyle changes, tips and tricks will help keep your liver in tip-top shape.

DO: Maintain a healthy weight

Maintaining a healthy weight based on your age, sex and height is crucial for long lasting liver health.

DO: Exercise daily

They call it "cardiovascular exercise," but those regular heart-pumping workouts also support your liver. How? Cardio promotes healthy glucose metabolism and supports healthy weight management, which are all important for liver health.

Weight training also benefits your liver by increasing metabolic rate, which helps inhibit the buildup of excess fat in the body and liver, and supporting your healthy insulin sensitivity.

And, there's good news for those of you who don't like sweating it out on the treadmill: studies have shown that both aerobic exercise and resistance training support liver health!

Your goal should be a total of 30-60 minutes of exercise daily—ideally, a combo of cardio and strength training due to the variety of health benefits they impart.

DO: Fill your plate with healthy foods

Make sure you are filling your plate with the proper foods to take care of your liver health. Avoid consuming meals that are high in calories, saturated fats, refined carbohydrates and sugars. We recommend following a Mediterranean diet, which offers beneficial nutrients from fresh fruits and veggies, lean meats and fish like salmon, healthy fats, and whole grains. (Added bonus: eating these types of nutritious foods is a great way to make sure you're getting enough vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin E, which are essential nutrients for overall health!)

Hydration is also essential, so make sure you are drinking at least 64 fl. oz. of water throughout each day.

DON'T: Drink a lot of alcohol

Sorry to say, but if you're prioritizing liver health, you're going to have to skip or cut back on those happy hours—or swap out that martini for a "mocktail" or sparkling beverage. Alcoholic beverages can have negative implications for liver health, particularly upon liver cells. Not sure whether you're drinking too much? Check with your doctor, who also will be able to advise whether you should cut out alcohol completely, or only consume it in moderation.

DO: Take liver supplements

Give your liver a lot of love with supplements for overall liver health that help support your body's natural filtration and detoxification processes. There are many liver health supplements on the market—so be sure to look for ones with scientifically validated ingredients. (Avoid anything that calls itself a "liver cleanse" and instead focus on nutrients that promote liver health.) Liver support herbal supplements include dandelion root, green tea, milk thistle extract and artichoke leaf.

Other nutrients that also benefit the liver are vitamins C, D, and E and calcium D-glucarate.

Do liver health supplements work?

Man speaking with his doctor about his liver health

Liver supplements play an important role in a liver-healthy lifestyle. Make sure to maintain a healthy weight, adhere to a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and limit or cease consumption of alcohol.

Talk with your doctor first if you plan to incorporate liver supplements into your wellness routine, because some supplements may interact with other medications you may be taking or be contraindicated for other reasons.

Make sure to follow the dosage guide on the bottle and not to take more than directed. 

About the Author: Andrew Davis is a graduate of Pace University NYC with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. He has more than a decade's worth of experience in content and social media in the health and wellness space. An avid traveler, Andrew also has volunteered as an English teacher and humanitarian in countries throughout Asia.


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