Vitamin E Improves Liver Health
A multi-center NIH study has linked long term vitamin E supplementation to improved liver health. This seems to be the case particularly in those suffering from nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), an obesity-associated chronic liver disease that can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer and death.
NASH resembles alcoholic liver disease, but occurs in people who drink little or no alcohol. The major feature in NASH is fat in the liver, along with inflammation and damage. Even though it affects 2 – 5% of Americans, most people with NASH feel well and are not aware that they have a liver problem. An additional 10 – 20% of Americans have fat in their liver, but no inflammation or liver damage, a condition called “fatty liver” or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Both NASH and NAFLD are becoming more common, possibly because of the greater number of Americans with obesity, which makes this recent study focusing on vitamin E more intriguing.
Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the study found that supplementing with 800 IU of vitamin E daily improved the livers of NASH patients, who currently have no approved treatments for the disease. After 96 weeks of treatment (just over two years), vitamin E improved all features of NASH with the exception of the amount of scar tissue in the liver; specifically 43% of those treated with vitamin E compared with only 19% of those who received a placebo.
“Fatty liver disease is a growing problem in the U.S., and we currently have no approved medication to offer patients,” said Brent Tetri, M.D., a hepatologist at Saint Louis University Liver Center and study researcher in a prepared statement. “With this study, we’re pleased to find that vitamin E should help some of our patients.”
Article updated on: June 21st, 2010