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Taking dietary supplements and liver health. Is there a connection?


Biologically active additives (dietary supplements) are substances of natural origin that are consumed with food in order to enrich the diet and maintain health.

  • However, they are not medicines, therefore, they do not pass clinical trials and cannot be recommended by doctors for the treatment of diseases.

At the same time, uncontrolled intake of dietary supplements can harm the body.

So, according to research, about 50,000 adverse events occur annually that can be associated with taking dietary supplements.

  • And these are just the cases that got into the reports of specialists.

In particular, experts have found that taking dietary supplements is associated with an eightfold increase in cases of liver failure. 

Toxic liver damage is liver damage that occurs due to the toxic effect of drugs, herbs and food additives on liver cells with the development of inflammation and even death (necrosis) in them.

Despite the widespread belief that natural remedies do not harm the liver, dietary supplements and medicinal herbs can be even more dangerous than chemically synthesized drugs. 

  • This is due to the lack of clinical trials of their safety, unknown composition of active substances and the presence of dangerous impurities due to insufficient purification. 

To date, more than 100 natural food additives have been described that have a toxic effect on the liver. 

  • The most famous among them are herbalife, dietary supplements for weight loss and muscle building, supplements containing linoleic acid, aloe vera, green tea, kava-kava, noni juice. 

There are also more than 6,000 types of medicinal plants containing substances that can be dangerous for the liver. 

  • Among them: comfrey, ephedra, senna, dubrovnik, celandine, valerian, turmeric, marsh mint, kava-kava, carpal bug, heliotrope, krestovnik, crotalaria and other medicinal herbs, as well as some preparations of Traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda.

In general, the most popular dietary supplements harmful to the liver are:

  • bodybuilding supplements;
  • weight loss supplements;
  • energy drinks with frequent or increased consumption and herbal complex supplements that increase energy levels.

Due to drug-drug interaction, including between dietary supplements, the risk of adverse reactions during treatment increases significantly.

  • As a result, the development of drug hepatitis varies from several days to several months.

When taking dietary supplements and medicinal herbs, we recommend that you follow the same precautions as when taking medications and do not take them without consulting a doctor. 

  • During long-term use of medications or dietary supplements, it is necessary to monitor the biochemical parameters of the liver at least once every three months.
  • When taking dietary supplements and medications at the same time, drug interactions may occur, therefore we recommend that you inform your doctor about any dietary supplements and medicinal herbs taken. 

Doctors-hepatologists of MCSC named after a.s. loginov have extensive experience in the diagnosis and treatment of liver diseases using modern equipment and new techniques.

Take care of yourself and be healthy!

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GBUZ Moscow Clinical Scientific Center named after Loginov MHD