Antioxidants for Liver Detoxification
Written By: Jun Wang, MS
Nutritional Consultant – Forest Hills, NY & Bronx, NY
Jun Wang holds a Master of Science in Human Nutrition from Columbia University Medical Center. Before joining InVite® Health, he worked at PepsiCo®, the Mount Sinai Adolescent Center, and Family Cook productions as a nutritional researcher, focusing on the analysis of nutrition in foods and beverages. In addition, he has worked with adolescents to help manage their weight by changing their dietary behaviors. He is also fluent in Mandarin.
Email Jun: firstname.lastname@example.org
Commonly, when individuals think of detoxification, cleansers such as colon cleansers or laxatives come to mind. Others may begin consuming high amounts of fiber, “green” drinks, and doubling up on their water consumption to detoxify their bodies. However, this is just one type of detoxification (or “detox”), called a digestive system detox. Another very important detoxification process is a liver detox. Here’s what you need to know.
The Function of the Liver
The liver is the major “trash processing” organ of the body that helps clean up the blood to remove large toxins and breaks down heavy metals or other unwanted chemicals enzymatically. Blood detoxification is essential for life, as our blood contains large amounts of harmful bacteria and pathogenic toxins and chemicals consumed from foods and inhaled from polluted air. A healthy liver can filter all of these unwelcomed substances out of the body and keep the body functioning well. The liver utilizes different enzymes to convert fat-soluble substances to water-soluble substances in order to excrete them from the body. Two biochemical processes are involved in this process. The first requires B-vitamins, carotenoids, Vitamin C and Vitamin E. The latter process requires amino acids, Glutathione or sulphur-based nutrients, found in broccoli, garlic, and other cruciferous vegetables. Synthesis and secretion of bile also occur in the liver, which helps to carry toxins out of the body and make fat-soluble substances more easily absorbed.
Antioxidants for Liver Detoxification
Antioxidants have been studied for years to help detoxify the liver. There are two different classification of antioxidants; One type of antioxidants are naturally produced by the body, including Glutathione, Catalase and Superoxide Dismutase (SOD). Other antioxidants must be consumed by food or supplementation, including Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and carotenoids. However, body-produced antioxidants are also dependent on diet.
Glutathione and NAC for Liver Health
Glutathione naturally occurred in the liver and is the most important antioxidant, as it contains three molecules of amino acids: Cysteine, Glycine and Glutamine. The sulfur chemical in Glutathione enables it to attach to all harmful properties in the body, such as free radicals, heavy metals, and harmful bacteria. Glutathione also strengthens the immune system and prevents cell oxidation. However, as we age and follow a poor diet, the body may not be able to produce enough Glutathione naturally on its own. Supplementing with N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) could be a great alternative, as not only does NAC restore Glutathione levels in the liver, but it also breaks down large amounts of mucus and provides support against emphysema, bronchitis, pneumonia, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Superoxide Dismutase (SOD)
Antioxidant enzymes, such as Superoxide Dismutase (SOD), are responsible for maintaining healthy levels of Reactive Oxygen Species in the body, preventing many diseases and detoxifying free radicals in the body. A double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled study showed that SOD can protect cell damage effectively. Another study involving 97 rheumatoid arthritis patients also showed that SOD may reduce free radicals and increase antioxidant status in RA patients. 
Catalase, another antioxidant enzyme, also naturally occurs in the body. Like SOD and Glutathione, it protects cells and removes free radical from the body. Studies have shown that it may also reverse greying hair and prevent skin discoloration by inhibiting hydrogen peroxide, which is released into the body when using energy.
Detoxifying your liver with antioxidants can help maintain liver health and get rid of free radicals and other toxins from the body. Don’t forget – it is just as important to detoxify your liver as it is to detoxify your digestive system!
- Muth CM, Glenz Y, Klaus M, et al. Influence of an orally effective SOD on hyperbaric oxygen-related cell damage. Free Radic Res. 2004 Sep;38(9):927-32.
- Bae SC, Kim SJ, Sung MK. Inadequate antioxidant nutrient intake and altered plasma antioxidant status of rheumatoid arthritis patients. J Am Coll Nutr. 2003 Aug;22(4):311-5.
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