Nourishment for the liver
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.
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.