Vitamin B12 Could Help People With Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

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Courtesy of Free photo on UkrMedia (Flickr CC0)

Vitamin B12 and folic acid supplements may help people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Individuals with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease have difficulty breaking down food, converting sugar into glycogen (stored energy), and disposing of toxic substances, among other things. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine specialists, the liver controls blood concentrations of amino acids (protein building blocks) to eliminate drugs and other poisons from the blood. It also operates to clean and detox itself effectively.

Liver health is vitally dependent on a vitamin supplement. Vitamin B12 is stored in the liver and comprises approximately 90%. When liver health declines, the amount of stored vitamin B12 is reduced, resulting in malnutrition. Vitamin B12 deficiency may cause anemia, an iron-deficiency condition. Red blood cells are produced insufficiently when the body does not have enough iron.

Liver, beef, sardines, clams, and dairy products are some of the most excellent sources of vitamin B12. It is found in animal products, fortified foods, and dietary supplements. In addition, milk and other dairy products, such as yogurt and cheese, are excellent sources of protein and several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12.

What Is Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)

NAFLD is a condition where more than 5% of the liver’s weight is composed of fat. It’s one of the most common causes of liver transplants, but it’s often a quiet disease, according to the NIDDK. The condition is often ‘silent,’ meaning it has few symptoms. It may result in serious health complications such as cirrhosis and cancer, but it is often silent. Researchers at Duke National University of Singapore and partners from Singapore, India, China, and the U.S. used mice to examine their hypothesis for this study. They discovered a mechanism that leads to severe liver disease.

NASH is characterized by liver scarring and inflammation in individuals who consume little alcohol. It is a liver disease in people who drink little to no alcohol and is associated with diabetes and obesity, a significant public health issue in Singapore and the United States.

What the Study Revealed

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Courtesy of AJ Gazmen (Flickr CC0)

The condition is associated with high levels of an amino acid known as homocysteine, which was discovered by the study. However, according to the research, no one knows whether it plays a role in its development. The data was published in the U.S. National Institute of Health and Human Wellness Institute in March 2013. The International Institute for Research and Public Health also published the report.

The research team discovered that as homocysteine levels increased in the liver, the amino acids in the liver proteins were modified and became nonfunctioning. Taking vitamin B12 and folic acid increases syntaxin 17 in the liver and binds homocysteine, preventing the protein from functioning and transporting fat (autophagy). This cellular process is essential for removing damaged organelles and proteins in inflammation prevention, mitochondrial turnover, and fatty acid metabolism.

Syntaxin 17 was increased by administering vitamin B12 and folic acid in mice with NASH. This resulted in a reduction in fibrosis and liver inflammation. As a result, Singh believes that an inexpensive treatment may be used to prevent the progression of NASH. In addition, the presence of homocysteine in the blood and liver validates its severity, according to Singh. “Our findings are both exciting and important.”

According to Duke-NUS’ Senior Vice-Dean for Research Patrick Casey, a simple, affordable, and accessible intervention could prevent or reverse liver damage in patients with end-stage liver disease. Currently, transplantation is the only treatment. ‘The team’s findings emphasize the importance of basic scientific research, through which the scientific community continues to make a significant positive impact on patient’s lives,’ he says.

Pharmacological Treatments

NASH has no current pharmaceutical therapies since the illness is permanently active. This has not been previously studied in humans, but it’s been evaluated in lab mice.

The study was published in The Lancet, New York, New York, and London, as well as at the University of New York. Further research is required in humans with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, but earlier studies are necessary. According to the new study, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease might be reversed by taking two nutrients, folate and vitamin B12.

Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware

Sources:
Futurity: VITAMIN B12 MAY TREAT FATTY LIVER DISEASE; by Federico Graciano-NUS
Science Daily: B vitamins can potentially be used to treat advanced non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; by Duke-NUS Medical School
Yahoo! Life: Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid May Help Reverse Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, New Research Suggests—Here Are 4 Foods That Deliver Both; by Karla Walsh

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Free photo on UkrMedia’s Flickr Page  – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy AJ Gazman’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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