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From the book: The essential guide to vitamins and minerals, by Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D., published 1995 by Harper Collins Publishers, Inc.

The liver is the largest and one of the most important organs in the body and has the greatest variety of functions. Most of the nutrients absorbed from the diet are transported directly to the liver for storage, repackaging, or combining with other compounds

Damage to the liver has profound effects on numerous body processes, including digestion, absorption, storage, and use of vitamins and minerals. In addition, the manufacture of proteins decreases, fat production is altered and results in fat accumulation in the liver, and the manufacture of enzymes necessary for the detoxification of alcohol and other poisons is reduced so that these substances accumulate in the body.

Liver disease causes malnutrition for three reasons. It

  1. hinders the digestion and absorption of food.
  2. affects the utilization of nutrients in the body.
  3. reduces food intake because of nausea, loss of appetite, and vomiting.

The manufacture, use, and excretion of protein, carbohydrate, and fat are altered and the absorption and use of numerous vitamins and minerals are reduced when the liver is not functioning correctly.

Adequate intake of vitamin A might help prevent the accumulation of tough, fibrous tissue in the liver characteristic of disease. Animals with liver disease show reduced damage to the tissue when the diet is high in vitamin A as compared to when vitamin A intake is poor. Long-term and excessive intake of the fat-soluble vitamin might cause liver enlargement and disease.

Vitamin E supplementation that raises liver concentrations of the vitamin might prevent liver damage and cirrhosis according to researchers at the University of Turin in Italy. Rats were supplemented with vitamin E to levels that raised liver vitamin E concentrations. The animals were then exposed to carbon tetrachloride to test whether the pretreatment with vitamin E would protect against both acute and chronic liver damage and cirrhosis. Vitamin E supplementation increased the vitamin content of the liver three-fold and reduced oxidative damage to liver tissue, but had no protective effect on the development of fatty infiltration of the liver. Cirrhosis also was significantly prevented in the vitamin E-supplementation rats. Vitamin E apparently provides considerable protection from carbon tetrachloride-induced liver necrosis and cirrhosis, probably by reducing the spread of lipid oxidation processes and reducing the extent of oxidative liver damage.

Large doses of vitamin K produce jaundice and damage to brain tissue in infants.

Beta carotene levels are low in patients with liver cirrhosis, while a diet high in beta carotene might reduce liver damage. Cirrhosis of the liver often is associated with increased activity of harmful compounds called free radicals that might increase the risk of liver cancer. As an antioxidant, beta carotene might prevent the formation of potentially harmful free radicals

Although hypercholesterolemia is effectively treated by niacin, researchers at the Virginia Commonwealth University warn that the sustained-release form of niacin is hepatotoxic and the immediate-release form also might produce negative side effects.

Large doses of biotin over long periods of time might cause abnormal enlargement of the liver.

Liver damage might be a sign of choline deficiency. Fat fragments accumulate in the liver because triglycerides must be packaged as VLDLs (very-low-density lipoproteins) to be transported from the liver, but VLDLs require phosphatidylcholine to function. Consequently, VLDLs cannot be exported during choline deficiencies. Human subjects show liver enzyme dvsfunction and decreased blood cholesterol (derived from VLDL secreted by the liver) within three weeks on a choline-deficient diet. These symptoms are reversed within two to six weeks after lecithin supplementation, which raises blood choline levels.

An inherited disorder in the use of copper called Wilson's disease is characterized by excessive accumulation of copper in tissues and results in reduced liver function. Treatment of Wilson's disease includes a diet low in copper and the medication penicillamine that binds to copper and increases its excretion in the intestine.

One study showed that individuals with and without liver disease have similar intakes of selenium, but those with liver disease have lower liver and blood levels of the mineral.

Nutritional consequences of liver disease might include reduced formation of vitamin D, which contributes to osteoporosis, increased loss of vitamin B6 and possible deficiency and reduced formation of the protein that transports vitamin A in the blood. Additionally; increased loss and possible deficiencies of folic acid, calcium, magnesium, and zinc might occur.

The following links will take you to more info about Vitamins and HCV.

Are There Vitamins a Person With Hepatitis C Should Take?

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