Nour­ish­ment for the liver

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - BMS INDULGE -

YOU may not have heard of phos­phatidyl­choline be­fore, but you are sure to hear a lot more about it in fu­ture. That’s be­cause sci­en­tific re­search sug­gests it has im­pres­sive po­ten­tial as a nutrient – par­tic­u­larly for the liver.

Phos­phatidyl­choline is a type of lipid, or fat, that is found in each of the body’s cell mem­branes. Of all the thou­sands of mol­e­cules that make up a cell, phos­phatidyl­choline is one of the most im­por­tant.

It forms the struc­tural outer skin or mem­brane around the cell. Not only does phos­phatidyl­choline main­tain the cell’s shape and keep it in­tact, it is also es­sen­tial for func­tion­ing of cells and al­lows each cell to com­mu­ni­cate with oth­ers.

As it is the key build­ing block of cell mem­branes, phos­phatidyl­choline is es­pe­cially im­por­tant to the liver. The liver’s func­tion­al­ity de­pends on the mem­branes of its cells, par­tic­u­larly the parenchy­mal cells.

These cells do much of their ac­tiv­i­ties on the thin and del­i­cate sur­faces of their mem­branes. It has been es­ti­mated that the hu­man liver has an in­cred­i­ble 33,000sqm of cell mem­branes.

Im­por­tant nutrient

Decades of re­search done on phos­phatidyl­choline have shown that it is a crit­i­cally im­por­tant nutrient for the liver.

Our body needs to get a suf­fi­cient amount of it through food such as eggs and soy­beans but most of the time we do not con­sume enough of this valu­able nutrient. An in­ad­e­quate in­take of phos­phatidyl­choline can im­pact our health, par­tic­u­larly the liver.

The liver ac­tu­ally per­forms over 500 func­tions that are vi­tal for the body in a va­ri­ety of ways. It sup­ports nearly ev­ery other or­gan of the body in one way or an­other. With­out the liver, the body can­not sur­vive.


One of the most im­por­tant func­tions of the liver is detox­i­fi­ca­tion. It cleans the blood of bac­te­ria, drugs, al­co­hol, chem­i­cals, tox­ins and other sub­stances that are harm­ful to the body.

Digest and process food

An equally vi­tal func­tion of the liver is help­ing to digest, ab­sorb and process food, break­ing down nu­tri­ents into forms that are eas­ier for the body to use.

Sim­i­larly, it turns med­i­ca­tions into their ac­tive in­gre­di­ents that can be used by the body.

Be­sides bile, the liver pro­duces blood clot­ting fac­tors, choles­terol and other chem­i­cals re­quired for fat trans­port, amino acids (the build­ing blocks of protein), cer­tain hor­mones and im­mune fac­tors.

It also reg­u­lates the lev­els of glu­cose and amino acids in the blood. In ad­di­tion, it stores ex­cess glu­cose which is re­leased when the body needs en­ergy, it pro­cesses and stores iron, and it stores other nu­tri­ents in­clud­ing vi­ta­mins.

The liver, how­ever, can get dam­aged by al­co­hol, viruses, bac­te­ria, tox­ins and obe­sity.

Causes of liver prob­lems

Causes of liver prob­lems in­clude drink­ing ex­ces­sive al­co­hol, in­fec­tions like hepati­tis, con­sum­ing toxic sub­stances, eat­ing too much fatty food, stress and lack of ex­er­cise. Even med­i­ca­tions can dam­age the liver in cer­tain cases.

Other causes of liver prob­lems in­clude in­her­ited dis­or­ders like hemochro­mato­sis and re­peated episodes of heart fail­ure with liver con­ges­tion and bile duct ob­struc­tion. Too much dam­age to the liver can lead to liver dis­ease, liver fail­ure and even death.

To pro­tect the liver and keep it func­tion­ing prop­erly, the liver needs phos­phatidyl­choline, which be­longs to a class of phos­pho­lipids that also sup­port or­gans such as the liver and pan­creas.

Phos­phatidyl­choline is a ma­jor build­ing block of cell mem­branes. Es­sen­tial for their struc­tural in­tegrity, it is part of both the in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal mem­branes of cells.

The in­ter­nal mem­brane pro­tects the liv­ing mat­ter within the cell and has spe­cialised func­tions, while the ex­ter­nal mem­brane acts as a mas­ter switch, pro­tect­ing what goes in and out of the cell.

Phos­phatidyl­choline is vi­tal for pro­tect­ing liver cells be­cause of its role as part of cell mem­branes. These cell mem­branes are parts of the cell that are most vul­ner­a­ble to at­tack from tox­ins and viruses. When at­tacked, the mem­branes suf­fer dam­age, cre­at­ing holes in the cell’s outer mem­brane and loss of con­trol by the cell.

En­zymes and other biomolecules start to leak out, the cell loses its sta­bil­ity, its DNA may get dam­aged and it dies.

Even­tu­ally, the liver may be­come un­healthy as fat de­posits build up and scar­ring (fi­bro­sis) as well as hard­en­ing of the liver tis­sue oc­cur.

Phos­phatidyl­choline ben­e­fits the liver cells in sev­eral ways. It lessens lipid per­ox­i­da­tion caused by free rad­i­cals and ox­i­dants, re­duces leak­age of en­zymes, slows down dam­age to mem­branes and sta­bilises them. It re­duces cell death, fi­bro­sis and fatty de­posits in liver tis­sue.

It can also re­plen­ish and re­store dam­aged liver cells be­cause it is their key build­ing block. Over­all, it im­proves the gen­eral me­tab­o­lism of the liver.

Re­search has shown that phos­phatidyl­choline can help in the preven­tion of and re­cov­ery from var­i­ous forms of liver dis­ease and tox­i­c­ity.

In stud­ies on hu­man and an­i­mals, it has been shown to have a ben­e­fi­cial ef­fect in pro­tect­ing the liver, ei­ther pre­vent­ing or slow­ing liver dam­age from tox­ins, drugs, al­co­hol and viruses.

In ad­di­tion, it has been shown to have a ben­e­fi­cial ef­fect on pa­tients with hepati­tis, fatty liver dis­ease and liver prob­lems as­so­ci­ated with al­co­hol.

Phos­phatidyl­choline is an es­sen­tial nutrient for the liver, help­ing it to per­form its many func­tions prop­erly and pre­vent liver prob­lems.

Even if the liver has suf­fered dam­age by tox­ins, al­co­hol, viruses, or other harm­ful sub­stances, phos­phatidyl­choline can help in its re­cov­ery.

This ar­ti­cle is brought to you by Seven Seas Limited, a Merck com­pany in health sup­ple­ments world­wide. Merck is one of the world’s leading chemical, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal and life sci­ence com­pa­nies.

Our body needs to get a suf­fi­cient amount of Phos­phatidyl­choline through food like eggs and soy­beans.

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