As our world becomes more and more toxic, so the burden on our livers increases. For those of us who like to raise several glasses of cheer over the holidays, supporting our livers is even more important. Add to this pain relief in the form of acetaminophen, and you can create the “perfect liver storm”.
Though it is not new information, two papers, both entitled "Drug-Induced Liver Injury", state that the largest cause of drug-induced liver injury (DILI) and/or Acute Liver Failure in the United States is Acetaminophen toxicity, accounting for about half of all cases. (1,2) Discussed as a surrounding problem is the number of different medications that contain acetaminophen... for example, Tylenol, Nyquil, Midol and many others. (1)
Also reviewed is the mechanism of injury and how N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) administration is effective as an antidote if given within the first 8 hours of overdose. (2)
NAC is a precursor in the body for an omni-powerful “Master” antioxidant and detoxifying molecule called “glutathione,” which serves a multitude of critical functions in the liver, and elsewhere in the body. (3) The reason that acetaminophen is so hard on the liver is that its detoxification can exhaust the body's stores of glutathione. Once our glutathione runs out, the toxic metabolite known as NAPQI poisons the liver. (2)
Alcohol metabolism also uses up glutathione stores, and when combined with acetaminophen, the results can be deadly.
So remain aware of how much of either of these substances you are ingesting, and perhaps consider supplementing with liver-protective substances that help raise, spare or assist glutathione. Besides NAC, these also include Milk Thistle, Alpha-Lipoic Acid, the herb Schisandra, and the mineral Selenium. (4,5,6) All of these ingredients can be found in Optimum Health’s formula called Opti-Liv Extra.
Though it doesn't directly increase glutathione levels, the mineral selenium is a necessary cofactor for the normal activity of a family of enzymes called "glutathione peroxidases". These enzymes play vital roles in energy production, immunity, and especially in our liver's detoxification and transformation of countless substances. (7) In fact, a recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which assessed selenium status in 121 subjects diagnosed with liver cancer indicated they had significantly lower blood levels of selenium and selenium proteins, (i.e. markers of selenium status), than matched controls, and that higher circulating selenium levels were associated with significantly lower risk. (8)
So, wishing you a happy and healthy year in 2022, and if you need some help we are here to assist!