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Vitamin C helps protect the liver

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By Jimmy Downs

Tuesday Feb 19, 2013 (foodconsumer.org) -- A review recently published in Pharmacology & Pharmacy suggests that taking vitamin C supplements or eating vitamin C rich foods can help protect the liver from being damaged by drugs and chemicals. Early studies have already shown that vitamin C can prevent damage induced by ionizing radiation.

Elias Adikwu from University of Port Harcourt in Choba, Nigeria and Oputiri Deo from College of Health Technology in Otuogidi-Ogbia, Nigeria reviewed human and animal studies and found that some drugs and chemicals can have adverse effects on the liver while vitamin C or chemically known as ascorbic acid can prevent the damage induced by the hepatotoxic drugs and chemicals.

According to the authors, hepatotoxic drugs and chemicals generate reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are known to be associated with lipid peroxidation in the liver, which is harmful.  Vitamin C as an antioxidant has the capability of protecting the liver against drugs-induced damage by neutralizing the ROS.  Studies have shown that vitamin C is hepatoprotective in both humans and animals.

In addition to the protection against the drugs induced damage to the liver, vitamin C can also protect against damage induced by heavy metals, organophosphate insecticides and some other toxic chemical agents, according to the review.

The authors report that vitamin C  is able to normalize levels of beneficial agents in the blood and tissue including "serum alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, gamma glutamine, alkaline phosphatase, lactate dehydrogenase and malondialdehyde and serum bilirubin in intoxicated animals."

As an antioxidant, vitamin C can also "potentiates the activities of free radical scavengers, superoxide dimutase, and catalase glutathione peroxidase thereby preventing microsomal lipid peroxidation, liver fibrosis, liver necrosis and he-patic inflammation."

Vitamin C as an antioxidant can also help people who suffer non alcoholic steatohepatitis or fatty liver disease.

All the protective functions of vitamin C is attributed to its antioxidant properties.

The authors reported that "Vitamin C is an important free radical scavenger in extracellular fluids, trapping radicals and protecting biomembranes from peroxide damage. Vitamin C effectively scavenges singlet oxygen, super-oxide, hydroxyl, water soluble peroxyl radical and hypochlorous acid."

Vitamin C can also serve as a source of electron donor and have the capability of neutralizing free radicals such as hydroxyl and super oxide radicals, which are really harmful and can cause mutation and initiate the cancer development, and quench their activity, thus preventing the damage otherwise induced by these agents.

For one thing, reactive oxygen species can damage DNA and cause mutation and carcinogenesis.  Ionizing radiation such as medical radiation used in chest x-ray, CT scan and mammography screening, is known to induce reactive oxygen species.  According to another recent study by Japanese scientists, vitamin C in high doses can help prevent DNA mutations caused by radiation-induced reactive oxygen species.

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