The 7 Symptoms of Liver Problems You May Not Know About
You could have fatty liver disease, and not even know it. In fact, Non-Alcoholic Fatty liver disease affects over 25 percent of the world’s population, and is one of the fastest growing liver diseases today.(1, 2, 3, 4)
This is because there are very few symptoms of liver problems.(1)
For example, do you have chronic fatigue?
Chronic fatigue currently affects up to 20 percent of the population. In fact, fatigue is one of the most common reasons that people go to see their doctor. Fatigue is actually one of the biggest symptoms associated with certain chronic liver diseases.(5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
However, fatigue is often overlooked by health professionals because there are a myriad of reasons that cause it.
Besides fatigue, there are six additional symptoms to look for that may come as a shock to you.
7 Symptoms of Liver Problems You May Not Know About
- Yellow-coated tongue
- Skin issues: acne, psoriasis, eczema
- Yellow tint of cornea
These common symptoms can also be indicative of other conditions, making it difficult to make the connection to your liver.(5, 6, 7, 8, 9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16)
Insomnia may be due to your caffeine and sugar intake, or irritability could be due to a dirty MTHFR or COMT gene.
But regardless, the thing here to notice is having these symptoms is not a normal quality.
The symptoms may be prevalent, but certainly should not be considered normal human traits, or just “bad genetics”. For example, thinking that acne is something that happens to many people, so it's just this annoying thing that we have to deal with.
However, the above 7 signs and symptoms are things that you should pay attention to, even if it seems that everyone around you also is struggling with them. And our human genetics play a small part in these symptoms, but you may have the ability to change the way these genes express themselves if you improve your lifestyle habits. You never know when these symptoms might be indicative of liver issues that you can catch early—before liver scarring or major disease occurs.(17)
If you can begin to determine which larger issues your annoying symptoms are connected to, then you might just find that the little pains actually have solutions.
What conditions do these symptoms indicate?
First things first, it is of utmost importance for you to get lab testing through a qualified healthcare professional. These lab tests and your healthcare professional will be able to clarify what conditions you may or may not have, and whether they are related to your liver.
There are many different types of liver conditions, ranging from viruses to liver scarring. Some of these include fatty liver disease, liver cirrhosis, hepatitis, and chronic liver failure. There are also simply sluggish, clogged livers that are not yet in the stage of a disease, that may be determined via liver enzyme tests. Each liver condition is a result of both genetics and lifestyle factors.
In any case, your liver needs to be evaluated in order to determine whether the symptoms you have are associated with liver damage.
Your qualified healthcare professional will be able to order lab tests for you, including specific liver enzymes that indicate the current function of your liver.
These labs tests may include (18):
- Alanine transaminase (ALT)
- Aspartate transaminase (AST)
- Alkaline phosphatase (ALP)
- Albumin and total protein
- Gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT)
- L-lactate dehydrogenase (LD)
- Prothrombin time (PT)
From here, your qualified healthcare professional will be able to interpret your results and set-up a protocol based on these numbers, your symptoms, and current lifestyle. This protocol may include a combination of researched-based lifestyle changes, pharmaceuticals, and dietary supplements.
Taking Control of Your Liver Problems
After getting test results and speaking with a healthcare professional about your symptoms, you may be ready to try out the first liver cleanse or liver detox you see on Google.
Even though taking control of your health is exactly what you need to do, keep in mind the amount of misinformation available on the internet.
Many companies promote a liver “cleanses”or liver “detoxes” that may do more harm than good. Stay clear of these fads. These are generally short-term and harsh on your colon and liver. If you attempt to make any drastic changes without the help of a qualified healthcare professional and proper testing, you could be putting your liver health in danger.
Taking control of your health means educating yourself from credible sources, such a qualified healthcare professional and research-based resources.
6 Ways to Increase Liver Function
- Minimize alcohol
- Avoid smoking
- Avoid refined carbohydrates and sugar
- Reduce excess body weight
- Maintain a healthy exercise routine
- Consume liver-supporting nutrients: whole grains, vegetables, prebiotic fibers, omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fats (MUFAs), taurine, choline, alpha-lipoic acid, N-acetyl-l-cysteine, probiotics, glutathione-promoting foods, antioxidants, betaine (trimethylglycine), and milk thistle.
These above lifestyle changes take lots of time and effort, as you might notice. You have to learn to shift your way of eating, moving, and living.
Health is work, and it rightfully should be if it's going to make a positive, lasting change in your life.
But you might be wondering…. is there something I can do to support my liver more efficiently?
Targeted Support Just for Your Liver
In addition to proven and effective lifestyle changes, tools such as nutraceuticals that are formulated based upon research and science can provide us a way to target your liver fast, specifically, and naturally.
Nutraceuticals include dietary supplements such as science-based herbs and biochemically supportive nutrients.
You might be able to move along your liver health faster with nutrition that is made specifically for the liver in a concentrated volume (like a capsule). This allows your body to get a convenient, intensified, and synergistic application of support, right to where it needs to be, which is a different approach than the lifestyle changes.
The other benefit of research-backed dietary supplements is that they provide nutrients that we don’t normally obtain from our food, such as unique herbs and extracted compounds that are formulated specifically to target the liver and help support the liver’s normal regeneration processes.
Naturopathic doctor, Dr. Ben Lynch has taken the nutrients that are crucial to support your liver and combined them all in a single, encapsulated formula: Liver Nutrients.*
This formula is not going to be your quick fix for your symptoms of liver problems, as no dietary supplement will do that. You should always follow your health professional’s recommendations, get lab testing, and implement healthy lifestyle changes as discussed previously.
However, Liver Nutrients by Seeking Health is specifically formulated with nutrients that synergistically and specifically target the liver to promote healthy detoxification, regeneration, and liver protection.
Let's look at how this product can help you by zooming in on how your liver works.
Why Should You Care About Your Liver?
Your liver helps you to stay alive.
This three pound organ’s main role is to help remove toxins from your body by breaking them down and excreting them as waste. We are exposed to thousands of toxins on a daily basis including heavy metals, hormone byproducts, prescription drugs, plastics, and other chemicals in our food and home. In fact, your liver has a deep red color due to the many blood vessels it possesses for transporting blood, which plays a huge role in detoxification.(21)
In addition to toxin removal, fat is metabolized, blood sugar is stored, and your immune system is regulated to help fight against infectious organisms.(21, 22, 23)
Yet one of its most important roles is producing bile for the gallbladder and intestines. Bile is a liquid that is created in the liver and flows into the gallbladder as the liver’s waste removal system. But it plays other important roles: when you eat fat-containing meals, bile is squeezed out of the gallbladder and into the small intestine, which breaks down the fats from your meal. And because it has antimicrobial properties, it helps to balance bacteria in the intestines. The list of bile properties and functionality is immense. But a main point to understand here: bile is formed in your liver.(21, 22, 23)
To do all this complex work, your liver needs to be able to restore and heal fast; it's the only organ that has the ability to regenerate itself. Literally called “liver regeneration”, it can repair and regrow itself!(24)
Let's have a deeper look at the first two “phases” of liver detoxification.
Phase I of liver detoxification is the breakdown of toxins and unwanted substances, such as alcohol, drugs, and heavy metals via specific hepatic (liver) enzymes.
Phase II detoxification neutralizes the byproducts of phase I putting them into a form that can be readily excreted and removed from the body.
During detoxification, your liver is exposed to toxic compounds, making it prone to oxidation and free radical assault. It relies on nutrients to help it neutralize these free radicals, called antioxidants. The most important of these is glutathione, your body’s master antioxidant. A lack of glutathione or an increase in oxidative stress can even reduce normal beta oxidation, your liver’s ability to metabolize fats. Thus, increasing levels of glutathione can help to support your liver health.*
Your liver also needs to be properly performing methylation. Methylation is the process by which a “methyl” group is transferred to another compound to change its function or convert it. It plays one of the most important roles in epigenetic expression (turning your genes on or off), hormone processes, detoxification, neurotransmitter health, and occurs at high rates in your liver. This makes sense, right? Because your liver is constantly regenerating itself!
You might be thinking: “Why do I need to worry about my liver health, if it can just heal itself?”
Remember, fatty liver disease is an extremely prevalent condition resulting from an overburdened liver that has too much cleanup work to do, with not enough time in each day to get it all done. Our world is full of toxins that you may not even realize. The liver is working non-stop to help you stay clean, healthy, and happy. Just like machines that need maintenance regularly, your liver can get stressed in a modern world and may need some extra TLC.
3 Ways Liver Nutrients Can Support Your Liver
Liver Nutrients by Seeking Health contains targeted ingredients that facilitate three important liver-protective functions: detoxification, regeneration, and protection. Let’s take a look at the ingredients in Liver Nutrients to see how these specific nutrients play a role in supporting optimal liver health.*
Detox Your Liver
A key ingredient in Liver Nutrients is taurine, an amino acid that is important for phase II of liver detoxification. Taurine acts as a hepatoprotective agent to promote your body’s natural and healthy defenses against liver injury, and even helps to facilitate ammonia detoxification in the liver. Taurine also plays a role in the inhibition of the enzyme CYP2E1 to support normal and healthy removal of toxins such as acetaphetamine (the main active ingredient found in Tylenol). It supports healthy antioxidant activity and normal glutathione levels to keep oxidative damage at bay.*(25)
While taurine helps to prevent glutathione depletion, there are other nutrients that also help to support glutathione production.*(25)
N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) is another key ingredient found in Liver Nutrients. NAC is a precursor to glutathione and assists in the normal and healthy breakdown of toxic compounds, preparing them for excretion from the liver.*(26, 27)
These ingredients are synergistic: while taurine helps the normal prevention of glutathione depletion, NAC supports natural increase of glutathione levels.*(26, 27)
Regenerate Your Liver
To help support normal and healthy regeneration processes, Dr. Lynch added trimethylglycine (TMG, also known as betaine) to the Liver Nutrients formula, which may play a role in healthy insulin resistance and liver fat metabolism.*(28, 29)
TMG is a methylated compound (meaning, it provides methyl groups to support cellular and DNA methylation as discussed earlier). TMG facilitates the conversion of methionine to S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) in the body. SAMe is an important compound that helps to prevent normal liver cell death and inflammation.*(28, 29)
No wonder this organ of yours is so overwhelmed, it seems to be doing everything!
If you don’t yet understand the power of methylation, check out our methylation blog here for more information.
Protect Your Liver
Your liver LOVES antioxidants. Alpha-Lipoic acid (ALA) is a powerful antioxidant that helps to increase glutathione levels while also supporting blood glucose levels and fat metabolism. One of your liver’s main jobs is to break down fat, and ALA helps it to do this job.*(30, 31, 32)
Because your liver is constantly encountering toxins, fats, and other difficult-to-process chemicals, it is quite susceptible to oxidation. Nutrients such as ALA, NAC, and taurine can help your liver to naturally banish and neutralize the vast array of free radicals that your body encounters on a daily basis.*(30, 31, 32)
Last but not least, you ultimately need to support your liver’s natural protection processes.
Milk thistle supports exactly that.*(33)
Milk thistle is a purple, thorny weed whose seeds have been used medicinally since antiquity to protect the liver from damage. The seeds contain an extract called silymarin, which can support healthy protection of the outer liver cells and inflammatory processes. As an extra plus, it can also help to increase the natural production of glutathione!*(33)
As you can see, the specific nutrients found in Liver Nutrients work synergistically to promote healthy liver function on all levels. Other liver support products on the market are missing some of these key ingredients, or even worse, are formulated in a way that can overwhelm the liver, ultimately adding to its burden.*
In contrast, Liver Nutrients is a gentle formula. Most fad “detoxes” for your liver can be harsh on the body, and may cause more harm than good. This formula is one that you can talk to your qualified healthcare professional about using on a daily basis. Dr. Lynch recommends to take this product with food for optimal absorption of the nutrients, and a healthy liver!*
Always consider the pulse method when taking this product, as outlined in Dr. Lynch’s book, Dirty Genes. The method carefully describes that you should listen to your body to determine the optimal dosage of a nutrient for you. Getting too little of a nutrient is something you probably know can have negative effects on you, however getting too much of a nutrient can also cause you to feel fatigued or sick. There is always a happy medium. Start out with a smaller, divided dose of the product (you can even open up the capsule and sprinkle on food!) and slowly work your way up to a higher dose only if needed. As always, follow the recommendations of your healthcare professional.
You can support this product’s effectiveness by talking to your healthcare professional about consuming a phospholipid complex such as Optimal PC. This will help to provide the base to your bile and promote health fat processing. Or you may benefit from Optimal Liposomal Glutathione if you are looking solely to support glutathione levels in the liver.*
In fact, Dr. Ben Lynch formulates all of Seeking Health’s supplements based on what the body requires down at the biochemical level, and it is this sort of targeted support that makes Seeking Health supplements, like Liver Nutrients, provide the results you want.*
You can have underlying liver issues and not even realize it.
Symptoms of liver problems are general, prevalent, and often discounted as “normal”.
Pay attention to your skin, sleep, and digestion issues as signs that have a deeper rooted problem. But know that it's possible, with hard work and the right nutrient protocols, to support your body’s natural liver healing processes and live with a vivacious, healthy detoxification organ.
Be sure to take the necessary steps to see your health professional and to make note of symptoms that seem general, but could implicate liver dysfunction.
By practicing consistent self-care and implementing the nutritional tools shared in this article, you can support your liver’s health for years to come, and in turn support your body’s ability to detox and stay clean.*
When your liver is healthy, you will notice a big difference in your energy and overall well-being.
The key is knowing that you are ultimately in charge of your own health—that means being consciously aware of your liver’s health before issues arise.
Are you ready to start showing your liver some love? Start supporting optimal liver health today; talk to your healthcare team about including Liver Nutrients in your daily routine!*
(Adams RD, Victor M, Ropper AH. Fatigue, asthenia, anxiety and depressive reactions. In: Adams RD, Victor M, Ropper AH, editors. Principles of Neurology. 6. New York: McGraw-Hill; 1997. pp. 497–507. ) Adams and Victor's Principles of Neurology, 11e
(15) Hechtman L. Clinical naturopathic medicine. Chatswood: Elsevier Australia, 2012.